I discovered the Cat Sanctuary about two years ago when I took a stray cat in to the shelter. The cat had been yowling piteously outside my house, obviously in some distress. I gave him food and water, put an ad on Craig’s List, and resisted the urge to let him in the house, where I knew there would be trouble with my own two cats. By the next day, he had found his way up to my sunny back patio, had stopped yowling, and was grooming himself contentedly on a deck chair. He looked like he had really been around the block, and his body language said, “Phew – I’ve finally caught a break here.” How it ripped my heart out to have to take him to the 5 Rd Shelter.
But I couldn’t get him off my mind. I tracked him down to the Sanctuary where he had been moved because he had FIV and was not adoptable. My cat had now become Panther and was settling in in the New Aids building.
Panther grieved for a while, but in the fullness of time he settled in, and looked deeply relieved to have found a safe, warm, loving place to spend his old age in. He obviously remembered me, and whenever I came to visit, he would come up to me with his funny old wobbly legs and smile at me and nuzzle me and look content. Panther went to the Rainbow Bridge in April of 2014.
But I stayed on. In myths and fairy tales, the hero is often lured away from their normal daily life into a new challenge or adventure by an animal that they follow into the unknown. In a sense, this is what Panther did for me. I like to say that although I brought him to the cat shelter, he also brought me there, and introduced me to a chapter of my life that has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying: volunteering as a kitty comforter.
One of my favourite things to do is to sit on the couch and see how many cats I can get to sit on me at once. I think my record is about seven. This is paradise.
I also love the pitter patter of little feet on my back. This is how I made friends with Bella, and also dear, sweet George, who I especially love because he lets me hold him in my arms like a baby.
And being insistently snuggled. Hannah is especially good at this.
And having Tugboat hound me for treats. All I saw was a black blur as he tried to storm up my leg.
And I fell completely, completely in love with Larry, surely the handsomest cat in the whole shelter. I can’t resist his cheeky little face, that darling little pink bip under his mouth, those wide, innocent eyes, and his funny little bow-legged walk.
It sounds as if I never do anything serious around the Sanctuary, but I do. I spend a lot of time in cages with cats who are sick, on the floor coaxing the ones who are shy, helping newcomers adjust emotionally, giving face time to those who need a bit more love, or trying to tame ferals. I love all of it, even when it means mopping up puke. Thanks, Panther, for bringing me here, where I’ve met so many wonderful cats and people who have brought me so much joy.