A Different Kind of Loss
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Bee Friedlander, Animals & Society Institute (ASI)
March 2014

cat shelter rescue no kill

The cat shelter where I have volunteered since July 2002 is closing its doors in the next few months. While I've known for several years that this was going to happen, I'm still not prepared for it.

It's a small, limited-admission ("no-kill") shelter which means that until recently, at least one cat lived there who pre-dated my tenure. We've adopted two cats from there; Mica (aged 14) still lives with us. Ginger died two years ago.

The shelter stopped taking in new cats several months ago, and the many kittens who made the place hum with special energy, have found adoptive homes. Tinkerbelle, the last cat who was admitted, had been neglected. After a few months in our care, she was adopted by a family who traveled from Illinois and whose daughter is a student at the University of Michigan.

The adoptions have been picking up of late, with volunteers and friends of the shelter deciding to give their favorite cat a permanent home. Take, for example, Louise. She'd been in foster care since her sister, Thelma, died a year or so ago. Louise is 26 years old.

We have been fortunate that the Humane Society of Huron Valley which serves Ann Arbor, is able to take some of the cats and has set aside a communal room for "our" cats. As positive as this is, it was still emotional last Thursday when the first group of 8 cats were packed into carriers and transported across town to their new lodgings.

Another reality is that the group of friends, staff members and fellow volunteers alike, who have grown close will no longer have the common experience of working at the shelter.

Another dynamic, which most of you will understand, is that there are rumors, and rumors of rumors among the shelter/rescue/animal community here, about the fate of the cats, the people, the building, etc. Fortunately, through a concerted effort on the part of shelter staff and volunteers, those seem to have subsided.

However, what I'd like to focus on are some of the cats I've known during my dozen years' association with the shelter.

cat shelter rescue no kill

Patches: known as "my" cat at the shelter, she's in her mid- to late teens and is a survivor, having had 3 operations for cancer. She was adopted in late 2012 and I've been able to visit her new home, and see how she's blossomed. I also am told that a new (much bigger but younger) cat has joined the household, and Patches (right) is clearly the alpha.

cat shelter rescue no kill

Charlotte: a very shy kitty who had probably been abused, Charlotte (below) was overlooked by potential adopters until Jessica bonded with her and took her home last April. I've been able to visit her and Jessica continues to work with her to increase her confidence and level of security.

Bingo and Stephanie: These two kittens were rescued from a dumpster at a Denny's restaurant. Stephanie was sick and Bingo had been horribly abused. I wrote about them here. Sometime later, we found the perfect couple to adopt them. They adjusted well to their new home, and in particular Bingo liked to lounge in sunny spots. Sadly, Bingo died suddenly, perhaps the result of the abuse he'd suffered.

cat shelter rescue no kill

Jacki, and Nip (above): sweet cats who have "issues," they are still at the shelter. We are searching for the right person to adopt each of them.

SSome of the cats who have found adoptive homes over the years include:

cat shelter rescue no kill

Sugar Daddy (above), a large cat whose first family over-fed him. As sweet as his name, Sugar Daddy found a second and permanent home.

Dorothy: she came to us from a very neglectful situation. She was pregnant, FIV+ and had severe ear mite problems. Of her three kittens, the only survivor was born by C-section and has since been adopted. Despite her history, Dorothy was always loving and trusting. She could not overcome her medical problems, and died this past fall.

cat shelter rescue no kill

cat shelter rescue no kill

Jazzy (left, this winter), Snowball and Diamond: some years ago, Chamaree came to the shelter looking for an older cat, one who was hard to adopt. She left with two, Snowball who was deaf, and Jazzy who only had one eye (and later lost the second one). I wrote about Jazzy here. I have kept in touch with Chamaree and the cats, through several moves. About a year ago, I made plans to visit her in Georgia, and looked forward to seeing the two cats. As fate would have it, Snowball died (at age 20+) only a week or so before my trip. Chamaree, still wanting to adopt an older cat, saw Diamond's picture on the shelter's Face Book page. It worked out that I was able to bring Diamond (right) with me on the flight to Atlanta, where she now lives happily with Jazzy and a dog, Isa.

As noted, my husband and I adopted Mica and Ginger from the shelter in 2004. Ginger died about two years ago, aged 10.

cat shelter rescue no kill

In little more than a week, Mica will have been with us for 10 years. A tiny (5.5 pounds) kitty, Mica is a quiet, determined being. Shortly after we adopted her, she became very sick and we were told she'd not survive more than six months. Almost 10 years later, she is going strong, albeit with the help of fluids and various medications.

When I think of how much joy Mica and Ginger have brought us, and multiply it by the thousands of cats who have passed through the shelter doors into loving adoptive families, I find some comfort.

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