Recently, my family lost one of our pets. Spartacus, our energetic and loving shih tzu was an amazing companion to us for over 15 years. This has made me want to reflect on our pets right now. Sometimes we take for granted that they are right in front of us, right now. Today, I want to reflect on my cat’s adoption story.
You’re a big girl now
In January 2017, I saw a posting for a senior, calico cat looking to be adopted. At this time, I had had my pet hedgehog for a couple of years and had recently taken an interest in caring for fish. I knew pet parenting was right for me and I loved it, but I hadn’t taken on as much as a financially-dependent animal like a senior cat. I was worried about having to pay for vet bills, food, and all the other consistent costs that come with pet parenting. I constantly wondered if I was ready.
I knew the second I saw the posting for Murphy that I absolutely had to have her. She has big yellow eyes, a grumpy-looking face and beautiful colouring. I had stumbled upon this adoption agency (which shall not be named because they do not deserve further business - wan’t a blog post on that experience? Let me know) and knew that the fee to adopt Murphy was within my range. However, instead of jumping the gun and diving full into this, I did some research. I created an emergency fund at my current job (at the time with my university) that was specifically for Murphy and any of her needs. I’m glad I did that because shortly after I got her, she experienced (and still experiences) health conditions that the agency did not notify me of. I suggest creating a budget for yourself as well. As much as we’d like to think we can handle the responsibility of our pets, you seriously need to be financially responsible as well.
A tragic backstory
Murphy’s backstory will forever make me cry. From what I’ve been told by her former foster parents, the agency, and further research I did on her, Murphy is from Quebec, Canada. She had been taken from home to home and eventually was abandoned and was old enough where people were too hesitant to adopt her. At 13 years old, Murphy’s date of euthanasia was set.
The organization that I adopted Murphy from had a system where they would put a call-out for people to drive to shelters and pick up animals who are on death row and house them until the organization can get them into a long term foster home. Unfortunately, no one could go pick Murphy up until 3 days after her euthanasia date. The organization asked the driver to go anyways in case she was still alive. I am forever grateful for Murphy not have being euthanized at that time. Through some sort of complication, the euthanasia never took place and Murphy was saved.
She stayed in a foster home for two months before I adopted her. Since she’s a senior cat, she is more susceptible to getting sick, having medication or vet bills, and health complications in general. This made Murphy “unadoptable” in the eyes of the shelter than had to euthanize her to make room for additional animals to come into the shelter.
When I brought home Murphy, she was pretty timid. It took about two months for her to fully feel comfortable in her new home. This is important to remember when you get a pet from a shelter - give them time to warm up. The great news is that Murphy’s personality was already developed when I brought her home. Unlike adopting a kitten that you have to train, I knew already the traits that Murphy had. She was pretty grumpy, but loves belly rubs, is particular about her litter box and does not try to escape the house.
Murphy having a loving home has allowed her to blossom. In my apartment that I brought her home in, she would try to meow but hardly made any sound. She was scared, presumably, about getting in trouble for being loud. Now this girl is very vocal! If she wants in or out of a room she will let you know. If she wants a salmon treat, she’s coming to meow at you. It’s been amazing to see how she’s grown and progressed to feel more comfortable. Her and I snuggle every night until we fall asleep. I think about the first time she felt comfortable sleeping on my bed - it took about two months but I cried of happiness when that happened. Murphy has very much come out of her shell and it’s all because she’s had a loving home to do so.
I can’t forget the benefits that she has brought me. Caring for Murphy has severely benefitted my mental health. If I’m sad or crying, she always comes to lay down with me. She motivates me to do well in school and at work so that I can continue to provide for her. She has activated the caring and nurturing (almost motherly) aspect of myself that I have never seen before. As much as I’d like to think I’ve helped Murphy, she’s really helped me. Thank you Murphy girl.
Why you should adopt
Please adopt don’t shop. Don’t go to a breeder. Don’t make your friend’s dogs have babies. Go to a shelter. There are hundreds of animals that are there needing homes. They are caring, loving and deserving of a happy life.
Not only are there so many possible animals that you can adopt, there are countless other reasons to choose adoption. Just as Murphy was, you already know what you’re getting into personality-wise. If the pet has some behavioural issues, you know about them at the beginning so you can help train them, instead of finding out later when something bad happens.
Additionally, with the adoption process, many pets are a more affordable option. Now, you should definitely not get a pet if you are not in a financial position to do so. But instead of purchasing some designer dog that costs thousands of dollars, you can adopt a pet that needs a loving home for a couple hundred dollars, including all of their shots, vet check-ups, and even being spayed or neutered.
Next time you think about bringing a new soul into your home, think about Murphy. Think about the “unadoptable” animals that are going to be killed purely for things they can’t control - their age, their colour (black cats) or some other reason a shelter thinks up so they can continue to make room for more animals. Always remember to adopt, don’t shop.
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