Author R.L. Stuemke
MEET MERLIN WIZARDPURR!
Here is Merlin WizardPurr, who has lived with me for three years now. Merlin is my second shelter cat. The first cat I adopted from the Oshkosh Animal Shelter was Cadfael RumbleFuss, a wonderful red tabby who bonded with me almost instantly – the first time I picked him up, on the first day I brought him home, I found two very strong paws around my neck and my face was being thoroughly washed, to the accompaniment of a rumbling purr.
I cannot say enough in praise of adopting a cat from a shelter or a rescue organization, especially an adult cat, who’s been overlooked so often in favor of a kitten or young adult. The older animals need homes too, and believe me, they bond with you every bit as strongly as a kitten. Cadfael was 5-6 years old when I first brought him home, the same day my good friend and housemate Judy brought home Charlie, a 1.5 year old red tabby and white longhair. As I stated above, Cadfael bonded with me very fast, as Charlie CuddlePaws did with Judy, and the first time we let these two guys meet face to face, they bonded with each other – best buddies from the word go.
That was in 1997. Judy and I soon realized that Cadfael, a stray found on the street, had spent a long time in an abusive situation. He ran away from either of us if we had a folded-up newspaper or catalog in our hands; it took a lot of encouragement before he’d jump up on a lap, and then he’d freeze, looking up as though afraid to see an angry face, and then finally he’d realize he really was welcome, and he’d curl up very happily. Within months, he’d taken to sleeping with me, every night, curled up next to my pillow, and he always made it very clear, to both of us, that he was so very grateful for a loving home.
Cadfael developed congestive heart failure in spring of 2006, and by July, he was beyond help. Euthanasia was my only choice. At that time, I was home recovering from knee surgery, and Judy had just retired. I decided to adopt another cat right away, so I’d have a chance to form a bond while I was still home all day, rather than having the new kitty form his primary bond with Judy, who would still be home after I was back at work. So, I brought Merlin home, yet another red tabby, an eight year old who’d been abandoned once, brought to the shelter where he was adopted, only to have his new person develop severe allergies on top of cancer, so he was brought back to the shelter – where I fell in love with him, almost on first sight.
There have been hard times, most particularly when Merlin was first diagnosed with diabetes. But I’m diabetic too, so there was never any question about keeping him, regardless – it would have been rather hypocritical of me to abandon a cat simply for having the same health problem I have. So now, twice a day I give myself an insulin shot, and then I give Merlin his – he’s right there waiting for it.
Two years ago, Judy started fighting breast cancer. A few months later, Charlie started his own fight with intestinal cancer, and a year later, I had surgery for endometrial cancer. I was lucky; the surgery took care of it, and I’ve been cancer-free since. Judy is, hopefully, close to remission. Unfortunately, poor Charlie lost his fight, just this summer.
So, there has been pain. But, believe me, the years of happy companionship make that pain well worth it. Having a fur friend share love and life is wonderful beyond description – or a winged friend, or even a swim-fin friend, for that matter. But, PLEASE – DO NOT SUPPORT THE PET MILLS, be they for puppies, kittens, ferrets, or any other animals! DO NOT BUY YOUR PET FROM A PET STORE, because the great majority of them buy from the pet mills. Visit your area shelter, or look for a rescue organization that specializes in your particular preferred animal! These poor animals deserve a good home, and will make it well worth your while!
Here are two very, very worthwhile organizations that I have been supporting for years. BEST FRIENDS rescues all different kinds of animals, gets them any necessary medical care, provides transport whenever necessary, helps find homes, and houses hundreds of animals, including those who for age, health, or temperament reasons, may never be adoptable. Visit their incredible website, and please consider find a way to support their work:
Several years ago, when I was trying to help my sister find a new home for her two Persian cats, I discovered a wonderful person, Kirsten Kranz, running a rescue operation out of Kenosha, Wisconsin, called Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue. Don’t let the name fool you, either – they don’t require a pedigree before they consider helping a cat in need, just that a cat shows the particular traits of a specific breed, and there have been times when they’ve taken in ‘purebred wannabes’ as well. These are cats that quite simply don’t do well at shelters, because they have special needs (like frequent grooming, for Persians and other long-haired cats) or personality traits (like forming strong bonds with their families, like Siamese), and shelters simply can’t afford to give them the time or space required, because they’re overburdened as it is. Having people like Kirsten and her many faithful fosterers willing to take on these burdens, helps not only the specific cats they take in, but also gives the shelters more space and time to devote to the mixed-breed cats they get, in ever increasing numbers. Visit the SPCR website, check out all the information provided there, and view the incredible cats that are presently up for adoption – and be sure to consider the page about how you can help:
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