Allison's Book Bag

Adopting A New Pet

Posted on: January 17, 2014

The day my husband and I would bring home our new cat finally arrived. Several days prior, we had visited our local no-kill shelter armed with research about how to pick out a new pet. The decision process turned out to be more difficult than we expected. Not because we were struggling with our grief over the loss of our precious Lucy, although memories of her still bring sorrow to our hearts. Rather, because our initial visit had resulted in a few contenders instead of one clear winner.

Cats_AllisonPrior to December 30, we hadn’t ever picked out a cat for a pet. Lucy had shown up in my yard, hung around in my bushes, and essentially picked me for her mistress. Naturally, when Andy and I married, she became his cat too. With her loss, we decided not to wait around for a stray to claim us, but to go find a needy cat at the shelter. Following recommendations in articles, when we visited the cat room at Hearts United for Animals we made ourselves comfortable in central areas of the room and then noted which cats sought us out for attention. We also observed which cats accepted treats and initiated play. These are the ones which made the top of our list. We also had some of our own criteria, based on our experiences with Lucy. She had come to us age unknown, but probably middle age. Thus, we wanted a cat with age known, preferably of younger age. She had enjoyed our laps, and tolerated our dogs, so we looked for those traits too. Last, she had struggled with appetite for much of her life with us, and ultimately it became one of the factors that contributed to her failing health. Although we still wanted a small cat, we also hoped that our next cat would better enjoy food. This criteria helped us narrow down our choices to, oh, about five.

Cats_AndyAgain, on the basis of suggestions in articles, we revisited Hearts United for Animals. One of the cat workers brought each contender individually into the visitor’s room for us to consider. There was the pretty girl who loved our laps so much that I wondered if she would have any interest in play. Yet she stayed on our list until she hissed at some visiting dogs. There was also the beautiful calico who gave the most affection to us when in the cat room. Unfortunately, when brought into the visitor’s room, she reverted to her feral nature. She scratched and jumped at the cat room door, wanting only to return to comfort. Yet she stayed on our of our list until we decided that one high-maintenance pet was enough, and we already have a foster dog with multiple medical issues. When we decided against her, we also ruled out a very sweet, pudgy, three-legged cat. There were a few males, one of whom won my heart. A decision on him was made easier when another family adopted him. The more we thought about the males, the firmer we became in our decision to get another female, simply because Lucy had been female. Yet one of the males fit our needs in every other way, while the other…. He was black and older, two factors that seem to turn potential adopters against pets, which meant he could use a home. Yet having just lost our cat, we weren’t ready to take on a senior.

Cats_WindowPrior to December 30, I had viewed the prospect of getting a new cat with excitement. We had taken in Lucy as a stray and given her a loving home. Now we could do the same for another cat. Lucy had taught us to love cats. Now we could adopt a younger cat and give ourselves the whole experience of having a cat through almost its entire life. As we started narrowing down our choices, though, we realized that to say “yes” to one cat meant saying “no” to the rest. This made the whole experience more confusing for me. Only the knowledge that the other cats would continue to find happiness and life at Hearts United for Animals, which is our local no-kill shelter, enabled us to eliminate contenders from our list without major regret. While my husband and I have given one cat a home, the whole experience of picking out our new cat made me sad too, because so many cats nationwide are put down every year. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom about 3-4 million are euthanized. We still have much work to do in the cause of animal care.

As for the cat we selected, we named her Cinder. She was brought to the shelter by her owner, who was escaping from an abusive relationship and could not take her pets with her. Named for her color, Cinder is a beautiful tortoiseshell of just over one year of age. If we had named her for her personality, our top name pick would have been Skeeter. That’s because she’s like a mosquito, always buzzing around.


All the articles we read about introducing a pet to a new home suggested that it could take up to two weeks for a cat to acclimate. For that reason, it should be restricted to one small room. However, when a cat begins poking around the door of that room and asking to be let out, owners would know the cat could handle exploring the rest of the house and maybe even meeting the other pets. Within one day, Cinder started trying to follow us when we left our library and meowing to be let out when we closed our door. We held out for a week before giving her free roam of our house. As for our two dogs, she’s learning to avoid them. If we give her enough cheese in their presence, maybe she’ll even eventually accept them.

Andy and I love our new girl. She likes to be chased and play hide-and-seek. And she loves playing with toys. Climbing is great fun for her, as is eating and napping and observing the world around her. When I fill her food dish, she follows me everywhere until I put it down. If I’m eating, she tries to grab my dish with her paws. We have started teaching her that TV trays are off-limits. Although I have photos of Cinder resting, I still wonder when she really sleeps. Rare is the moment when she’s not running about, exploring this and that, and meowing for attention. If she is truly still, it’s when she finds something to observe. Cinder loves to jump up on tables and counters, where then she sits and watches our every move. Or the birds, squirrels, and neighbors outside her favorite window. She’s the perfect way to start a new year!

2 Responses to "Adopting A New Pet"

May Andy’s and your life with Cinder be long and happy! I enjoyed reading your account of your choosing Cinder and of her becoming part of your family. I’m looking forward to reading more stories about her and seeing more photos of her.

Thanks! At the end of the month, Cinder has an appointment to deal with her dental issues. After that, I hope we have a healthier cat. 🙂 In the meantime, we’re developing a morning routine which consists of my: grooming, training, and reading animal stories to our three pets. We also spent part of Saturday past filling a shopping basket with toys and food for our new girl. 🙂

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