This is a very special post for me to write up, as it relates to my sweet little fur baby, Zuzu the calico cat. If you check out my Instagram feed, you’ll find that I pretty much spam the internet with pictures of my cats, because I love them all and want to show them off to the world. That said, Zuzu is special, and, as the 21st of April was the one-year anniversary of her “Gotcha Day,” I want to talk about her, Cat Haven, and adopting shelter pets.
Some backstory to help put things in perspective is necessary at this point. When Leigh
and I met, she had two cats – a black cat named Bit Bit (aka Lena Bell) and a giant blond cat with pointy ears named Legolas (aka Legsie, Dood, and the Giant Fat Ass Kitty of Doom). Legsie was a very special cat. He was loud, friendly, and full of personality. He literally acted like he was human when people were around. And, he and I would have long conversations that actually felt like he was talking back to me. He was a pain in the butt who would wake me up at 4 am, but he was also the sweetest, most empathetic animal who could easily sense any form of emotional distress and rush to heal with snuggles, purrs, and kisses. He also stole chicken nuggets out of our hands if we weren’t careful. He passed 3 days before my birthday in January of 2017, and not a day goes by that Leigh and I do not miss that sweet man. I only got to know him for a few years, but he quickly became my best friend and giant yellow shadow. I couldn’t go anywhere or sit down at home without him jumping on my lap and shedding all over me. I’m crying now as I type this, because he was, as the song I sang to him said, “awesomesauce”.
Leigh knew I was taking it pretty hard, and she kept saying that when I was ready, we’d get another cat. I didn’t think I’d ever be ready, honestly. But, on April 21st, my friend and colleague Nicole Costatini, who volunteers at the Cat Haven animal shelter, suggested I go and look at the cats – just look. Leigh gave me the “If you find a cat you love, you can bring it home.” Now, honestly, I didn’t think I was ready, and I told myself that I was just going to look and not come home with a cat. Anyway, I went by the park where we gave Legsie one last morning to sit in the sun before he passed, and I told him how much I loved him and missed him and that if he had a special friend picked out for me to send me a clear sign.
So, I make my way to Cat Haven to meet Nicole. She shows me around the facility (it’s a no-kill shelter, which I approve of!) and introduced me to a lot of cute little cats. She started with some of the younger cats who looked like Legsie, but, honestly, I knew I didn’t want a “Legsie Two,” because it would be unfair to a cat to put the burden of being just like Legsie onto a different cat. We looked at young cats, old cats, tabbies, torties, etc. Nothing really clicked. Then, in the last room, there was a seven-year-old calico named Zuzu. She was sleeping in the sun when I walked in and sat down on the floor. As soon as I sat down, she walked over, crawled into my lap, and gave me a big kiss on the nose. I had my sign.
Zuzu had been at the shelter for a while, and the staff wondered if she would ever get
adopted. She was brought in when her family didn’t want to tend to the UTI she had developed. Her paperwork described her as sweet, affectionate, and as a cat who “just wants a lap to curl up in”. And that’s an apt description, if not an understated one. Zuzu is extremely sweet and affectionate. She loves giving kisses and snuggling on laps for long periods of time – when she’s not sitting on a pillow by a window or napping on the loveseat in my office (which is “her room”). She’s very quiet with a tiny little meow but a loud, calming, loving purr. She’s also playful – a fact that her older sister, Bit Bit, isn’t always fond of. But she is my special little girl who loves being on my lap, her other mommy’s lap, and the laps of anyone who will let her sit down. She also sheds like crazy, which given my penchant for black clothing, is noticeable. She’s a lot like me – she loves being affectionate and around people, but when she wants to be alone, she lets everyone know it. (She also gives amazing side-eye when I tell bad jokes!).
You can tell that being dropped a shelter affected Zuzu. When we’re gone longer than she expects us to be gone, we come to home to find her pacing by the door in a worried state. I constantly assure her that we’re never leaving her and that this is a forever home. I would go hungry before I let go of her for any reason.
So let’s talk about Cat Haven for a bit. For those reading this who aren’t from Baton Rouge, I’ll spare you the local specifics. It’s a no-kill animal shelter that doesn’t have the space needed for the amount of cats they help. That’s sad, but that’s the case with most shelters from what I’ve heard. Cat Haven is a clean, bright, well-run facility staffed by wonderful people. (They also have a Kitty Cam). I recommend them to everyone in town seeking a cat. Like all shelters, cats from Cat Haven come fixed, vaccinated, and microchipped. They charge $100 for adoption fees to cover this, and honestly, when you consider the costs of all of these services, that’s a steal!
So yeah, I do believe that rescue pets are the way to go when seeking a pet. I’m not going to give the standard “Adopt Don’t Shop” spiel that you probably expect. I’ll just say this – for the majority of pet needs/wants, a rescue pet from a shelter will fill those needs/wants. Sure, you may have to spend a little more time with them to reach that point, but I promise you, it will be worth it. Shelter animals still have a lot of love to give, and we just have to be willing to help bring that love out sometimes.
I found the sweetest little cat, Zuzu, at Cat Haven, and for that, I am eternally grateful. If our landlady didn’t have a “two pet maximum,” I can promise you, we’d be back there getting another fur baby. Again, anyone in the Baton Rouge area, please support Cat Haven!
Now, show me your kitties in the comments! (And your bunnies, and puppies, and birdies, and snakies, etc.!!!!)