“Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s highest good.” — C.S. Lewis
There is a kind of love we feel for our animals that puts their safety and comfort above our own. Hungry people will feed their animals before feeding themselves. Most of us will take our pets to the vet way before we are willing to make that doctor appointment for ourselves.
We received a message from an 80-year-old woman desperately looking for help. Her husband had passed last September and her family lived far away in other states. Nearing the end of her life, she realized that the five cats she loved so dearly would be better with someone else. She had to let them go.
But five cats? In Houston? We are a city where some shelters have a policy of not taking any animals from the public at all, and only pulling animals from over-crowded, taxpayer-funded shelters. Five cats wouldn’t make it through that system alive.
Her message to us read:
“I can walk, but with difficulty. I have sold our house because it is too large for me to care for, and it was about to go into foreclosure. I have not found a place to live yet, but am looking into either a small apartment or a personal care home. Neither will accept my five cats. An apartment might allow two of them, but how to choose?Miss Bobbie
It is making me sick.
It is getting more difficult each day for me to care for them properly. Keeping their feeding schedule gets more difficult with each day, and don’t even mention keeping the litter boxes cleaned out. It’s almost impossible for me to handle at this point.
My cats are the heart of my heart. Can you please help me?”
We quickly made plans to take her beloved cats—Misha, Miles, Harry, Fiona and Cassio—into our program. The intake was scheduled for a Saturday at 10:00 am.
The Friday night before intake, our elderly friend passed away.
Her kind neighbors brought the cats to us, and we gently brought them into the shelter.
5 Grieving Souls
We ended up with four of the cats after Fiona was taken in by one of Miss Bobbie’s neighbors.
The cats we have are Cassio, Misha, Harry, and Miles. They were all extremely fearful, at first, hiding and trying to escape. It’s safe to say that at least half of them would have had a tough time finding placement through a traditional shelter because of their terrified behavior.
Cassio was the first to come around. He’s a 14-year-old kittenish guy who tears around the Senior Room, chasing toys and shadows, running up to anyone who looks like they are halfway willing to provide him with pets and treats.
Maybe a week or two later, after going through our Fraidy Cat program, Harry started purring whenever we approached him in his hiding spot, then he started coming out for short periods of time for affection, which he now can’t get enough of.
Next was Misha. That first moment we were able to pet Misha was unforgettable; he relaxed as soon as he felt that first friendly touch. His relief was palpable.
Last came shy Miles. In the beginning, he would run around in sheer panic as soon as he set eyes on one of us. We gave him time to come around of his own accord, and now he will tentatively approach for pets and treats.
You can clearly see that all four of these boys are used to being treated with love and tenderness. They all enjoy lots of affection and play, and they all have the silky velvety coat of a well-petted cat. Best of all, now that they are all together in the Senior Room, they can continue to lend each other comfort and company in their grieving. Come to the Senior Room nowadays and you’ll have a good chance of seeing them lying next to each other, head butting one another, and seeking out attention from visitors together.
Miss Bobbie’s Legacy
Here, they will have a chance at finding their next forever home, no matter how long it takes. We will honor our elderly friend’s memory by mirroring the care and love that she gave them their entire lives, until it was her time to go.
Because that’s what we do. It may surprise you that there are shelters in Houston that do not allow any intakes from private citizens. We think that is the heart of our work—the heart of our heart is to be where people turn for help at their most desperate.
At their most vulnerable.
And we help.
It is why we will never limit our intake to only taxpayer-funded shelters. We certainly pull from the euthanasia list of those shelters regularly. But we will never turn away from what we believe is our sacred connection to our community. We will never stop taking strays, owner turn-ins and helping people try to keep animals in their homes.
One way you can help is by giving a cat a forever home, so we have more room for cats like Cassio, Misha, Harry, Miles, and Fiona. You can see all of our adoptable cats, here.