Pet Adoption: The Humane Approach

Charlotte "Lotty" McGonagall

This last week has been one of the most challenging in a while. Our family cat went missing the day before Halloween and we searched far and wide for her for days. It was only when someone kindly called with a tip, five days later, after seeing one of our “Missing” posters, that we found the body. She had been hit by a car and died in some dense bushes only twenty feet from our house. I was crushed. She was a beautiful cat, and although she was with us for only a few months, she had captured all of our hearts. It wasn’t until I buried her, under the bird bath in our garden, that the tears finally subsided. There’s something to be said for the ritual of burial. It seems to soothe the heart somehow.

The kids’ way of dealing with the tragedy was to contemplate getting another cat. At first, this idea didn’t settle with me very well. They are so used to being able to replace anything broken, with another one from the store; an attitude unfortunately firmly ingrained in our society of plenty. I hesitated because I didn’t want them to have the same attitude toward a living being (I really don’t want them to think this way at all about anything, but they learn it very easily). At the same time, however, I could see how having a new pet might breathe life and happiness back into the void that was left by Charlotte, our first cat, so I agreed.

Charlotte was purchased at PetSmart, one of the large pet stores here in Ottawa. But she was not the product of a kitty-mill. She had been rescued by the SPCA in Quebec and offered for adoption in the store. She had been spayed and cost a hefty $245. They claimed that she was four months old (which I always doubted, she looked older) and that enabled them to charge more. Up to six months is considered a kitten, older is an adult. Adults cost less. But how do you argue the age of a stray cat? Regardless, we were so happy to bring her home, I forgot about the inconsistency. Besides, I had nothing to compare their service to. That was, until yesterday.

During my time searching for the missing Charlotte, I had made several visits to the Ottawa Humane Society in their Lost and Found section. While I was visiting I had a chance to witness the hustle and bustle of the people working there and the sheer volume of animals being sheltered there. All those I dealt with were extremely friendly, helpful, sympathetic and very professional. The animals (cats) were confined to cages but looked comfortable and well fed. They had extensive charts attached to each cage which outline the health and status of each animal. Although my heart went out to each and every one, I was comforted knowing they were in good hands. Many would be adopted or fostered until they could be adopted.

When the decision was made to adopt another cat, I would go nowhere else except the Humane Society’s Adoption Centre and I’m so glad I did. They have well trained adoption counselors who fully investigate the adopter through an extensive questionnaire. I was also able to question them about anything I was unclear about and they answered me comprehensively. What impressed me the most, mainly because I compared this experience to that of PetSmart, was what I got for my money. The total cost for adoption, with taxes, was $216. That included spaying, microchipping, a six week coverage of pet insurance, and a City of Ottawa pet license – oh and a collar which the animals are not allowed to leave without. All in all, it was an excellent experience that far surpassed that of a pet store purchase.

Minerva "Minnie" McGonagall

Best of all, we saved a cat’s life. Minerva is a common barn cat variety – a shorthair tabby – but she has already made us fall in love. She’s playful and affectionate…the perfect combination for a house with young children. With her sweet, inquisitive, little face and kitten mischievousness, she brought happiness into a home that had been stricken with sadness. If you are thinking about adopting a pet, and don’t necessarily need a purebred, consider the humane society or SPCA wherever you live. I highly recommend it and your new pet will thank you with furry affection. Also, you might consider supporting your local shelter by donation or volunteering. I am definitely thinking about both options…they are a worthwhile investment in time and/or money.Β β™₯


16 thoughts on “Pet Adoption: The Humane Approach

  1. I’m really sorry for the loss of your cat.
    I’ve never had a pet as a child. But whenever I talk to someone who has a had a pet in the past, they always end telling me how sad they were when the pet died.
    And I understood it when Odie, my nephew’s Golden Retriever, died.
    I am glad you and your family could find Minerva. And I’m glad for Minerva too.


    1. Thank you, Gabriela. Pets have a way of really becoming a part of the family. People will go to all lengths to protect them and suffer great heartbreak when the pet dies. It’s hard to comprehend unless you experience it yourself. Sorry to hear about Odie…that must have been hard.


  2. Sweet post Isobel! It’s the opposite in Jordan, cats adopt you. A cute kitten realizes dumpster diving with mean old toms isn’t going to work, so they scope out friendly humans for a meal ticket. Works like a charm.


    1. Hi Kinzi. Thanks for dropping by. I remember the cats when I visited Greece. You literally had the pick of the “litter”. I imagine it’s similar in Jordan. It’s nice when you can at least “foster” one or two, if not take them in, isn’t it?


  3. I hope you have crossed that bridge of sadness with only sweet memories of Charlotte.
    Minerva looks like quite the character:-)
    She found a good home and she looks like she’ll fill it with her own kind of magic.


    1. Oh gosh, Abufares, she is definitely a character. I heard this funny sound this morning when I was in the kitchen. I went out into the hall and found that she had climbed to the top of the screen on the hall window! Needless to say, I took the screen off…lol! Now she’s sound asleep on my lap…but whether she’s awake or asleep, she gives me little time to be sad. πŸ™‚


  4. Your decision to bring a pet into your home brought Charlotte into your hearts. Through her life with you and her unfortunate death something new was opened up to you. You, my dear sister, know my passion and my experiences. I advocate for everyone to find your positive passions and search in your community for ways to express and give to those passions; even if it is just a few hours a month. It is an example to your children and to others around you.
    Love you always.


    1. Hi Tina! So glad you came by. Yes, something positive definitely came from Charlotte’s death…a new opportunity which I intend to take full advantage of. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. xo


  5. Isobel,

    So sorry about what happened to Charlotte and I am also sorry that I did not have the chance to talk to you about it at school. I just checked my e-mails now since I am not on the computer all of the time. I am very glad you sent me this link. You are indeed a wonderful writer and I look forward to hear more of what you have to say about this sometimes difficult and crazy world of ours. By the way, the picture of Anna and Anastasio walking is brilliant and beautiful. I would say girl you are a budding creative!
    See you soon.
    Fellow W_ _ _ _


  6. I hope you will join me when I walk for the Humane Society next September! It is an amazign organisation … I am so happy you have found Minerva (wow! what a name!) and yes, the loss of Charlotte is hard but what she brought you is worth that pain. Let kitten cuteness fill your heart and home!


    1. Hi Sonja. I will definitely join you for the walk, of course. ( This kitten certainly fits her name…which I chose. The kids agreed because of Prof. McGonagall in Harry Potter. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for your comment.


  7. I am so very sorry about your kitty Charlotte. May you have wonderful memories of her time with you. Even though it was brief she obviously filled your heart with joy and she was so lucky to have your family to love her.

    Yay..for adopting Minerva. She is such a cutie pie!! I am sure she will have all of you wrapped around her little paw with her kitten antics and affectionate purrs..

    She has the exact same colorings and markings as my Kasey. We adopted Kasey and his adopted sister Roxie from our local OSPCA a year ago after losing our 18 yr old Tigger. They are such a joy and pleasure to have in our home.

    I certainly applaud the work our local shelter does for these lost souls. The staff and volunteers work tirelessly to make sure every animal has a chance to find their forever homes.
    I too am thinking about volunteering at our shelter. I am only afraid I would end up bringing them all home πŸ™‚ I would love to foster kittens one day, but my work schedule right now would not be condusive to full time kitten care.


    1. Hello Karen, welcome here and thanks so much for your comment. I, too, would love to foster some kittens…but, like you, it might be difficult to fit in. I hope I can find a way to help in some other capacity. Sorry to hear about Tigger…it sounds like he had a good, long life. I’m sure your new babies are very cute. πŸ™‚ All the best!


  8. Dear Isobel,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post. Your reflection on how quickly kids are used to replacing things was very inspiring. Ultimately, I think you did the right thing, especially if it allowed for a conversation on “how not to take things for granted”.

    Your children are lucky to have such an expressive mom πŸ™‚

    Cherish your memories of Charlotte and as someone said before, she is the reason for even greater joy in your life in the form of Minerva…. and the discovery of an organization and cause to support.

    Just like with kids, enjoy the kitten moments, they are over oh-too-quickly. May Minerva brings you many, many years of joy!



    1. Hi Nadine. πŸ™‚ So happy to see you here and thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, we did have a conversation about so easily replacing things. Interestingly, when we went to pick up the kitten, Anastasi broke into tears and began to really mourn the loss of Charlotte. He cried all night and although it’s hard to see your child heartbroken, it made me feel better in that he obviously cherished her life.

      Minnie has brought a lot of joy already…and some ahhh moments as she climbed the back of the leather chairs…but that’s kittens and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. πŸ™‚


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