Pets can be great for children: Not only do they help kids to learn about empathy and compassion, but they teach responsibility as well. Studies have even shown that pets can help children to be healthier by strengthening the immune system.
April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day, which makes it a great time to share some tips to help kids live together happily with dogs and cats.
PAWS cats Fuji and Gala went to a forever home with a small child.
Children under the age of five should never be left alone with a dog or cat. At this young age, they are still learning how to interact properly with pets, and they need your attention and guidance to do so.
Teach your children about cats’ and dogs’ body language. This will help them to understand your dog or cat and avoid accidents or injuries. There are some great pictorial guides available on the internet so kids who are still learning to read can get to know things like the signs of stress or relaxation.
Teach your children to “be gentle with the dog” or “be gentle with the kitty.” That is, no tail-pulling, no chasing or grabbing.
Don’t allow your child to grab a dog’s or cat’s toys away or disturb him while he’s asleep.
Use a baby gate to separate your dog and your young children when your dog is eating. A baby gate can also give your cat a “safe room” if she wants to get away from the kids for a while.
Make sure your cat has plenty of high places where she can observe children without being in their immediate reach.
PAWS dog Goose went to a forever family with a number of kids.
Our animal behavior lead at PAWS, Rachel Bird, offers this advice on how to get kids involved with caring for their animal companions.
Let them help with feeding your dog or cat. “Feeding animals helps in the ‘bonding’ process,” Rachel says. “Animals really respond to the person giving them food! I like to mix it up at home, and I will rotate between my children to give them all a chance to feed everyone or hand out treats.”
Let children play with cats using a laser pointer or wand toys. This allows the child to be a safe distance from the cat in order to avoid accidental scratches or bites, and both are having fun.
Children benefit from getting involved in obedience classes for dogs. “Usually, kids love to learn how to teach a dog new tricks,” Rachel says, “so it’s just a matter of teaching him how to teach them.”
Older children can take your dog for walks or clean litter boxes. These chores teach children about some of the responsibilities involved in having an animal companion, and will make them better pet guardians when they become adults.
How have you helped your children learn how to care for your dog or cat? Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.
Find out more about companion animal behavior and welfare in our online resource library.
Dylan adopted Will from PAWS a few months ago, but in the short time the two have been together, Will has already made a huge difference in Dylan’s life—and Dylan in his. When we saw that Dylan had written a blog post about his experience with Will, we asked him if he would answer a few questions for us.
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter? One of the first dogs I remember from my childhood was a rescue Rottweiler. I’m also a crybaby for videos online of abused animals and animals that were adopted by someone who wasn't quite ready for the commitment. All things considered, I knew there was a loving animal in need somewhere waiting to meet their new best friend.
What brought you to PAWS? PAWS has a reputation that I can stand by. It was the first name that came to mind when discussing where to go find my puppy, and obviously that turned out great!
What was it that most attracted you to Will? When I met Will at the shelter, his charm just made me want to play with him. My partner and I had a contagious smile the entire time we were visiting with him. He also has this adorable head tilt when he is listening to you.
How was your journey home and settling in together? Will did a great job in the car! I remember having this feeling that I was having my first parenting experience: All I wanted for Will was for him to feel safe and trust me as his new friend.
How would you describe Will’s personality? Will is silly, charming and a great cuddler. Between playing and learning new tricks—quickly, might I add—he chases his tail until he gets dizzy and you can see his head spinning when he stops to rest. He has a smile and demeanor about him that makes people on the street smile when he is on walks.
How has Will changed your life? As I struggled with depression and some anxiety about job changes, schooling and being in a new city, I did a lot of research about how dogs can be both a great responsibility and an excellent source of therapy. Will makes me smile every day, from first thing in the morning until the end of the night when he curls up in a ball and gives a sigh of accomplishment after his long day. He has given me a sense of routine, purpose and companionship that I didn't have before.
How old was Will when you adopted him? What do you think is the best thing about adopting an adult dog? Will was just over two years old. The best thing about an adult dog is that I don't have to take him out to do his business every hour and worry about every little thing like I would a puppy, but I do know that I have at least a good 10 years of friendship with Will. For someone who wants to invest time into training and developing a relationship with a dog but can't be on watch 24/7, I think the best thing a person can do is adopt a young adult dog.
What advice do you have for people considering adopting a dog? It’s important to understand the responsibilities of being a dog guardian. I wanted a dog for years—I grew up with them and knew that dogs were going to continue to be a part of my life. That being said, I’m just now at the point where I’m ready to accept that responsibility. The time and attention a dog needs to feel loved, mentally challenged, and physically exercised is just as important as the financial impact of medication, vet visits, toys, treats, and food.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? You can teach an old dog new tricks. Even a dog who was mistreated or who received no socialization or training in his early life can become a really wonderful and well-behaved companion. At first, Will wasn't house trained, he didn't sit on command, and he barked at every single person he saw. Since then, he has learned a dozen tricks, tells me when he needs to go outside, and is getting so much closer to being a little lover to everyone. If you're willing to put in the work for your little friend, he’s willing to give back.
Do you want to spend your Friday or Saturday evenings volunteering with animals?
Wait, before you click away, let us tell you a bit about the importance of volunteers—who we rely on seven days a week, 365 days a year—and share with you some stories of PAWS volunteers who take those weekend night shifts.
Photo by Benjamin Fry
Last year at PAWS, more than 8,200 cats, dogs and wild animals were brought to us in need of help. We couldn’t have assisted these animals in finding homes or returning to the wild without the help of our volunteers.
More than 800 volunteers contributed a staggering 63,176 hours (the equivalent of 7.2 years!) to helping us in 2015.
You might be surprised to know that even with all this volunteer support, we still need more. This is particularly true for our weekend shifts. While walking dogs and tending to wildlife might not seem like the perfect way to start the weekend, Tom, who has been serving as a Friday-night dog walker for a year now, would like to tell you otherwise.
“I really do enjoy the shift and find it a convenient, satisfying way to cap off the traditional work week,” Tom says. “I like to think of the Friday shift as ‘PAWS Happy Hour’ since not only does it coincide with human Happy Hour, it's busy and fun and the doggies are very happy to have their dinner and go for an evening stroll in the woods.”
If you’d like to spend your happy hour with our companion animals we desperately need more Friday night dog walkers, and also kennel attendants, who deal with every aspect of a dog’s life at PAWS. Which is one of the really rewarding aspects of volunteering out of hours. It’s just you and them, and you’re making a very real impact on a dog’s life. That can be a special experience.
Helping dogs on the night shift still leaves plenty of time to connect with friends and family. Most volunteers at our shelter leave by 6 or 7 p.m. “That’s still pretty early in the scheme of a weekend,” Tom says, “so people have plenty of time to head out for a movie or dinner.”
If you’re more interested in taking a weekend walk on the wild side, we are always looking for more volunteer wildlife care assistants to fill Friday and Saturday night shifts during our busy season (6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., April through September). Crucial to maintaining continuity of care for our patients, wildlife care assistants get involved with feeding and final checks on patients.
Randi has been volunteering with PAWS for more than 12 years and always takes an evening shift at our wildlife center in the summer. “I like the late shift because there’s a smaller team and you get to interact more closely with your shift mates and the rehabbers,” she says, adding that even though there’s a lot to do, it’s a great shift because time moves quickly when you’re busy and enjoying your fellow volunteers’ company.
Jennifer, another volunteer at our wildlife center, says that the evening shift allows her to fit her volunteer interests into her regular work schedule. “For me the volunteer tasks are a welcome break from my regular desk job and I am given the opportunity to learn and experience things I would not in my day to day life,” she says. “There is a good energy to the evening shift despite how busy it often is, the feel is very laid back; you are winding the shelter down for the night and preparing for the next morning.”
Why not join “PAWS Happy Hour” and volunteer with us on a Friday or Saturday night? By the time you are finished with your shift, there will still be plenty of time to enjoy a night out with friends or spend a relaxing evening at home. And, as Tom says, “It sends you off into the weekend feeling good.”
Why do we talk so much about spaying and neutering? Quite simply put, it saves lives.
When you put it into numbers, the case for spaying and neutering our pets is extremely compelling. A dog can have two litters per year, with an average of six to 10 puppies per litter. That’s 12 to 20 puppies a year for every intact female dog.
Photo CC-BY hurricanemaine
A cat can have two to three litters per year with an average of four to six kittens per litter. That’s between eight and 18 kittens a year for every intact female cat.
A rabbit can have up to 14 babies per litter and can become pregnant again within minutes of giving birth. With the average rabbit pregnancy lasting between 28 and 31 days, one rabbit could become mom to 168 babies in a single year!
Add to these numbers the knock-on effect if all these babies aren’t spayed or neutered when they reach reproductive age, and you start to see how over-population occurs and why shelters like PAWS are full of unwanted, abandoned animals.
Photo CC-BY Danielle Bourgeois
A cat, dog or rabbit who is spayed or neutered not only saves lives. There are many health benefits for the animals too.
Spaying and neutering eliminates the risk of certain cancers. Since the uterus and ovaries are removed during a spay and the testicles are removed during a neuter, by getting your dog, cat or rabbit “fixed,” you’re also making sure your beloved furry friend will be protected from cancer of the reproductive organs.
Photo CC-BY normanack
Spaying also dramatically reduces the risk of breast tumors in female animals. These are the most common types of tumors in dogs and the third most common in cats. Approximately 50 percent of breast tumors in dogs and 90 percent of breast tumors in cats are malignant.
Neutering reduces a male dog or cat’s desire to roam in search of females ready to mate, which also reduces the risk of becoming separated from their loving homes, being hit by a vehicle, getting into fights with other animals or encountering larger predators.
And timing is everything.
It used to be thought that cats and dogs should be spayed after 6 months of age. However, they can get pregnant as early as 5 months of age. Now we know that kittens and puppies can be altered as early as 2 months of age (or 2 pounds in weight), and that they actually recover more quickly from surgery at this young age than they do as they get older.
It’s for these reasons and many more that PAWS spays and neuters every cat and dog, kitten and puppy in our care before they get adopted. PAWS also operates a spay/neuter clinic for low-income residents of the area and participates in World Spay Day every year.
In 2015, PAWS spayed and neutered 2,173 shelter dogs and cats and performed a total of 502 low-cost spay-neuter surgeries on privately owned dogs, cats and rabbits of low-income families. And thanks to a grant from the Hazel Miller Foundation, we are poised to help even more low-income families get their furry friends spayed and neutered through 2016. This grant provides free spay or neuter surgeries for cats of qualified low-income residents from the city of Edmonds, as well as clients who reside in many areas of Brier, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway and parts of Unincorporated Snohomish County.
Adrianna and Aleksandra adopted Abby from PAWS Cat City in 2011. She was seven years old at the time, a shy cat who had been in PAWS’ care for long enough to feign a lack of interest in people who came to visit. But the couple saw through Abby’s shyness to her mellow temperament, which they thought would be a great match for first-time cat parent Aleksandra. I recently sat down with Adrianna to talk about Abby’s life since her adoption.
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter? I am very passionate about no-kill shelters, and I would never purchase a pet—another living being; there are so many cats that need homes.
What brought you to PAWS? PAWS does a really good job with the adoption process in terms of caring for the cats, helping people find the right cat and making sure that the cats are adoptable. I also liked all the information on their website about the adoption process and finding the right cat.
What was it that most attracted you to Abby? True love? Love at first sight? I specifically wanted to adopt a black cat and an adult cat, because black cats are more likely to stay in shelters longer simply because they don’t stand out as much as other colors. When I saw Abby in the shelter I noticed that she was kind of hanging off to the side and she wasn’t very visible, but since I was looking for a black cat I noticed her.
How was your journey home and settling in together? She was amazing! She went into her carrier with absolutely no problem, and the staff at PAWS were very nice and helpful. When she got home she came out with her tail up, all curious and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. My sister was there to help me with the introduction to her feline housemate, Pedro, and separating them into two rooms at the beginning. I think being well educated about how to properly introduce cats helped a lot.
How would you describe Abby’s personality? She is a fluffy marshmallow of love. She’s given me so much happiness and she has the most wonderful purr. She’s just a mellow cat and likes hanging out, sitting in her cat tree and watching the birds. She’s very gentle and sweet, and she’s definitely smarter than Pedro. I’ve trained her to sit up and beg for treats.
How has Abby changed your life? She’s made me a more loving and contented person. She reminds me about what’s important in life and how to be open-hearted ... and of the importance of taking naps. The companionship she gives me is so deeply wonderful because I have a chronic illness that sometimes makes it difficult to even get out of bed. She’s like a little medicine cat. She can make me smile no matter what’s going on.
A lot of people worry about adopting older cats because of a concern about health problems or that they won’t have much time together. Has Abby faced any major health issues? She did have a bout of pancreatitis, but that resolved quickly. She has arthritis, but that’s well managed. As far as adopting an older cat, indoor cats can live to be 20 or older, so if you’re adopting a 10-year-old cat, you’ve got 10 years together.
What advice do you have for people considering adopting a cat? Be aware that it is a long-term commitment. It’s like having a child: You need to make sure you can afford it and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to get cat-friendly housing, and that you have time to spend with your cat. People have the misconception that cats are aloof, but they really do need a lot of companionship. I also think it’s important to consider a cat-only vet because cats are much calmer in this environment and the staff are experts in feline medicine.
If you’ve ever succumbed to the persuasive powers of an adoptable cat (or two, or more!), chances are Amanda’s experience with PAWS alumnus Malcolm will resonate with you. For those of you thinking about adding a feline friend to your family, her moving story of life with a senior cat may open up a whole new world of potentially perfect companions.
This is a letter to anyone considering the adoption of a senior cat, and to the people at PAWS who made this all possible.
When I adopted Malcolm he was seven and a half years old, with an arrhythmia of the heart and severe allergies to just about anything. However, to know Malcolm was to love Malcolm. This test has been proven several times, and he has a reputation for turning the most allergy ridden, insecure and unconfident human into a cat person.
He was amazing.
I was young when Malcolm chose me. I was 21, with only a part time job and a part time fiancé. I was two states away from my family, friends and the home I knew. I couldn’t afford his many ailments and I had every reason to say no. I even tried once. But in the end, there was no ‘saying no’ to Malcolm.
The day I brought him home was terrifying. I wondered if he would adapt well enough, if I was enough, if he could thrive in this home that I had built. Naturally, he walked in like he owned the place. In so many ways, he made me feel more at home there then I would have felt on my own. Every bit of love I gave to him, he returned ten times over. It was as though he knew that I would be his ‘forever home’.
Malcolm was work. As I mentioned, he was allergic to everything; laundry detergents, fleas, flea medication, pain medication, grains, and scented litter. And then there was his heart murmur to keep an eye on. Some days, it was more than I could handle. But Malcolm acted every day as though he was worth it, and by the end of even the hardest day, he proved he was right.
I’m not going to go into detail of the years of loss, change and growth that we went through together; but I will say that he was by my side every second. Making him my first priority always resulted in the best solution. I couldn’t go wrong.
Malcolm died of a heart attack last week. He was mine for only five years. Five years is a very short relationship to have with a pet, but for me and for us, it was five years of love and adoration.
A senior cat can have a lot of love to give. They can lend you the experience you lack, and they can be the most confident partners. Senior cats know more about themselves than we, as humans, know of ourselves. All you have to do is listen with your heart and trust that your best will be enough.
My senior cat was a success story. And though it breaks my heart to be without him, he has taught me a valuable lesson: never dismiss a life because of age or ailments. When I am ready to adopt again, I hope to find another senior. I hope that anyone reading this message will take my advice to heart.
Dogs have always been part of Janiece’s life so, when her beloved Dozer passed away in 2012, it was somewhat inevitable that life soon began to feel empty and the pull to get another dog became stronger. Little did she know the amazing and life-changing adventure that awaited her with Roxy, adopted in January 2013 and now about to become a fully-fledged Search and Rescue dog!
How did you find Roxy? I love telling this story! In November of 2012, my old dog Dozer passed away and I soon started feeling the pull to get another dog. Of course, everyone loves to help you find a new dog, so my friends at work were scanning all the adoption sites for me. A good friend at work (and prior PAWS volunteer) found a shepherd mix she thought would be perfect. I raced to PAWS after work to meet her.
Just talking to her through the kennel door I could tell she wasn’t the dog for me, but as I walked by Roxy something made me stop. I’d seen her previously on the website but she hadn’t triggered anything with me, until I saw her. I instantly knew she was supposed to be in my life.
It was too late to do a meet and greet that day, so I planned to come back the next day. When I got there another family was visiting with her. I was crushed and hoped they wouldn’t click with her. Luckily for me they didn’t and I got to spend some time with her.
She didn’t really care about me and was basically just a big puppy at that point. All she really knew was how to sit for cookies. She had A LOT of energy and was a little nippy (ah, the herding breeds!). I was hooked and put a hold on her. She came home the next day and settled right in on the car ride home.
What were some of the highlights of your first weeks together? Oh dear, I wish I could say it was a honeymoon from the beginning, but that was not the case! She tried to attack my cat Bailey (there was a baby gate between them), spent a couple months peeing on the floor, and was horrible with visitors. She was, however, a total sweetheart! As she settled into her new life, we worked through all those issues . She’s now great with the cat (they share my bed), never pees inside and loves meeting new people!
Were you looking for a Search and Rescue candidate when you started looking for a dog? I was not, but quickly realized after I got Roxy, this dog NEEDS to work! The Snohomish County K9 Team was hosting an open house, so I decided to check it out. We joined in 2013. Two years later, here we are and my life has completely changed!
How does the training work? In Snohomish County, you’re first a member of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR). There are training requirements at the county level including navigation, first aid, and wilderness survival. The county also has specialty teams, such as K9 and Equine, and each team has additional training based on their specialty. On average it takes 18 to 24 (or more) months to certify a dog. There’s no cost for the training, however you do have to purchase and maintain your own equipment.
What makes Roxy such a good candidate for SAR? She has high drive (she LOVES to play tug and “hunt” people), she’s bold, energetic and athletic. She’s that dog that will go all day, rest for an hour and be ready to go again. That’s the type of dog that drives you crazy as a pet but makes an excellent SAR dog!
What does the life of a SAR dog involve? Training, training and more training! Pretty much I just try to keep up with her. We do agility once a week, train with the team once or twice a week, and work on obedience, etc. in between. She also has regular doggie play dates with her friends. Down time to just “be a dog” is really important too. It’s easy to burn a dog out with too much training.
In additional to all of that, it’s important to keep your SAR dog physically fit. We ask a lot of them when they’re working and they need to be prepared for that. We do something active pretty much every day, sometimes that’s a run, a romp at the park or a good hike.
Any funny training moments you can share? She had a brief stint as a sled dog while we were training at Mount Rainier. I fell down and she was so excited to start her problem she kept going. I held on and went for a little ride. I think I see skijoring (a winter sport where you’re on skis and pulled by a dog/horse/vehicle) in our future!
What will the next steps be once you’re certified? She’ll be ready to deploy on missions. She’s currently working on her Airscent Certification, which involves working off leash in large areas. We’ve also done some disaster and avalanche training, and will likely continue to pursue that after she’s certified in Airscent.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to adopt a dog? First and foremost, make sure you’re getting a dog for the right reasons and you have the time to commit to dog ownership. Second, make sure you get the right dog for your lifestyle and be realistic about what that is. I see so many people get that “cute” working breed, then don’t give it a job. Those dogs will find a job, we’ve bred them to work. They may just decide that eating your couch or herding your children is the best job for them!
Get professional guidance from the beginning. Even if you’ve had dogs before, this helps get you and the dog off on the right foot. Give your dog time to adjust and try to see things from his/her perspective. Their entire world has just been turned upside down. Who knows what their history is? Their behavior is based on their past experiences, and that won’t change overnight.
Dogs of all shapes, sizes and personalities end up in shelters looking for that new forever family who’ll let their talents shine – whether those talents are delivering love through snuggles, creating laughter through fun times, or saving lives. Thank you, Janiece, for seeing Roxy’s potential and giving her the perfect career as well as the perfect home!
If you were following PAWS News back in March, you're sure to know the story of Betty Blue - a pit bull who gave birth alone in a field alongside a canal in California. Her courage, tenacity and unreserved faith in humans captivated and inspired all who met or read about her.
Today, an email from her new family has us reaching for the Kleenex to mop away those happy tears. Read on as Christine shares her family's first three months with this lovable lady:
Ms. Betty Blue…where to begin? We’ve had the pleasure of sharing our lives with Betty for just over three months and honestly we couldn’t be happier.
Betty’s an eager to please, not so little goof-ball, who knows she’s got us wrapped around her paw. Her clumsy gait and big happy smile are so endearing I can’t imagine our lives without her. A gentle love bug whose tail starts thumping the second you say her name, she’s brought much joy into our home.
Betty and Ella (our feline baby) co-exist better than I could have asked for, and I am so appreciative to PAWS staff, who spent a good hour talking me through proper cat/dog introductions. As I think in most households, our cat tends to call the shots, and Betty for the most part has been extremely respectful of Ella’s boundaries. I don’t see the two of them cuddling up anytime soon, but they co-exist peacefully together.
On a side note, when Betty first arrived we purchased three large dog beds for different rooms of the house; she immediately decided the tiny cat bed was the best option (pictured, below) and chose that instead (the fact Betty is 70lbs and doesn’t fully fit in the 10lb cat’s bed didn’t seem to bother Betty one bit).
Betty’s an avid swimmer who loves car rides, walks in the neighborhood park, and overnight camping trips; although why one would want to leave a warm comfy bed to sleep on the ground in a tent is still beyond her!
Betty’s left her mark on Cougar Rock Campground and Paradise at Mt. Rainier, and she’s been an excellent travel partner on our adventures.
Her grandparents live on beach front property near Hood Canal and she tries her best to swim straight out to sea whenever we visit. Try as she might, she still hasn’t figured out how to move the buoys, which I can only assume from her perspective look like giant toy balls. She also has a habit of dragging to shore driftwood double or even triple her size; what she needs a log that large for is still a mystery to us!
Betty’s still on medication daily, and will be most likely for the rest of her life. She has a bit of trouble going down stairs when excited, as her momentum and exuberance tend to get the best of her two front legs but—for the most part—Betty doesn’t let her injuries bother her.
We’ve introduced hydrotherapy sessions (pictured right), which are a fantastic workout for her and include massages while in a warm salt water pool.
While the weather’s still good though we’ll be trying to get her back in the ocean swimming as much as possible!
Since bringing her home, Betty has reaffirmed our decision to adopt every day, and we feel lucky to have her.
Thank you everyone was involved in her rescue and transport from California, and those who supported her care, we’re so grateful to share our hearts with her!
If ever proof was needed to reinforce the saying "those who say money can't buy happiness have never paid an adoption fee", this is it. Thank YOU Christine – we're so very grateful that Betty Blue found you.
In September 2012, Camille decided she was finally ready for the responsibility of a four-legged companion and began what she expected to be a lengthy search for the perfect partner. Little did she know she was only a shelter away from her happy union with a feline friend.
Three years on, Camille looks back on life with Harper (now Scout)...
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter? I didn't have a specific breed I was looking for and I wanted an adult cat. Plus, I know that shelters are overflowing with animals. It seemed like a no brainer to me.
What brought you to PAWS? I had been going to adoption fairs and scouring Petfinder.com for a couple months and was already well aware of PAWS.
When I finally got serious about adopting, I chose to go to PAWS in Lynnwood first because I lived close by...but I honestly didn't expect to find my cat that quickly! I assumed I would have to hit up a couple other shelters (including PAWS Cat City in Seattle) before I found "the one."
What was it that most attracted you to Harper? How calm and relaxed she appeared. I grew up with dogs and never had a cat before so I was really hoping to find one that wouldn't be too crazy.
While I was at PAWS I also considered another cat who was far more rambunctious when I had some one on one time with him. While he was adorable, I thought "Harper" was more ideal for a beginner cat owner. I was 100% correct! Her personality was what sold me, I honestly didn't even realize how pretty she was until I brought her home.
How did Harper become Scout? I've always thought it was a cute name ever since I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" back in high school. I told myself if I ever got a pet that Scout would be top on the list of names I would consider.
How would you describe her personality? She really has the sweetest disposition and is very affectionate. She's pretty social too and never hides from people when they come to visit. She likes to be the center of attention.
Just the other day, two guys from the cable company were over fixing some wireless internet issues and I swear she was flirting her fuzzy butt off the entire time! She's also a bit of a goofball... ok, more than just a bit.
Of course she has her sassy moments too, but those are few and far between. She's a sweetheart the majority of the time.
How was your adoption experience with PAWS? It was very positive. I was a little worried because I never had a cat, but I clearly did my homework before I got there so I think the gentleman that helped me with the adoption was pretty happy about that and knew I wasn't making a rash decision.
How was your journey home and settling in together? The whole drive home after the adoption she was meowing up a storm, but once I let her out of her carrier she went straight into exploring the whole house. After she finished she just relaxed and hung out with me the rest of the day...and it's been that way ever since!
I think I was more stressed out than she was when I first brought her home. I’d been talking about getting a cat for months, and when I finally did I couldn't believe she was there! I was just in awe of her and she wrapped me around her little paw in no time.
We bonded very quickly. She honestly behaved as if she's known me since kittenhood. She didn't hide under the bed or have any behavior issues due to a new environment. She settled in beautifully.
Any funny moments in your life together so far? There was a bit of kitty drama going on a couple months back. A neighborhood cat kept coming around our apartment looking up at our windows at night and Scout would lose her mind whenever she saw it. It was like Romeo and Juliet except Juliet wasn't interested and threw a temper tantrum whenever Romeo stopped by. Eventually Romeo got tired of rejection and had his revenge by peeing on Juliet's welcome mat. True story.
How has Scout changed your life? I've actually noticed I'm less stressed out and a lot happier. She's been a wonderful companion and whenever I'm in a bad mood, I just need to look at her and I can't help but smile.
What advice do you have for people considering adopting a cat? I still consider myself a "newbie" when it comes to cat ownership but I learn every day. Like not to freak out over every little thing. I didn't know that cats shed more than just their fur. When I found one of Scout’s claws (which, I'd later discover, was a claw sheath) in the carpet, I was so upset I thought she was hurt! Turns out it's totally normal and a good thing.
Most importantly, be sure you're ready for the responsibility and pick the right cat that’s going to be the happiest with what you can provide for them. It took me over 10 years after I moved out of my parents’ house to decide I was ready to have my first pet.
This animal will depend on you to take care of them and to keep them safe and happy. Trust me, if you’re able to do that successfully, the rewards will be well worth it. There's nothing like it in the world. The best decision I ever made in my life was going to PAWS that September day and adopting my girl.
Thanks for sharing this great story Camille, and for choosing to give a much-needed second chance to an animal in need. We're delighted to have helped you find your perfect forever feline, and wish you many more years of goofball-ness ahead! Readers, you can follow Scout (AKA @sillykittyscout) on Instagram.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I spent the first night that I brought Henry home (at PAWS he was Gru) just staring at him. I took pictures too and some video. I loved him instantly.
Henry, on the other hand, spent the first night testing each item of furniture. He tested the bed for stretch-ability. Could he get a full length body stretch across my mattress? Check.
Then he tested the couch for comfort. Was there an equal amount of room to curl up and sink into cushions? Check. Could he knead the blankets deep enough for his claws not to touch surface? Check. Was there enough distance from this odd lady who kept staring? Check. Double check.
While I was madly in love immediately, Henry was still assessing the situation. While I was posting to Facebook about my new family member, he was one-eyeing me with uncertainty. For me, we were family. For Henry, the jury was still out. He seemed to think it best to sleep on the final decision overnight.
“A cat needs to know its surroundings, so he or she is going to spend a lot of time sniffing,” explains Steph Renaud, PAWS Cat City Supervisor, “and perhaps, sneezing.”
That’s right, cats react to new smells and irritants too.
“Give them a chance to adjust to their new surroundings. This is their home and they’ve got a lifetime to discover it, so let them go slow and find their way on their own time.” Steph encourages. And, if they keep sneezing (like Henry did), bring that up with your vet on your first visit.
Naturally, you already know that every cat is unique and—of course—your new darling is the most interesting being who has ever existed.
For any questions about his/her behavior, the PAWS Resource Library is a thorough hub of online articles for most every cat preparation need you might have.
“There’s no better solution than love and patience.” Says Steph, “If you can remember this, then your latest family member will transition nicely to his or her brand new surroundings.”
As for Henry, he suffered just a few days of ‘everything’s-new-itis’, and it only took a little more than 72 hours to discover that he’s probably a birder at heart – more interested in cat food with bird as the base than fish (lucky for my local wildlife, Henry’s also an indoor cat).
Phew-y, gross, ick fish – according to the tiny panther I now work for.
Suffice to say, Henry’s home now and lucky for me, he seems to like it.