Adopt, Don’t Shop
On Halloween of 2013, I learned that I failed my third IVF transfer. I was devastated.
That Monday, an email was sent to the faculty and staff of the school where I worked:
“Just a shot in the dark…Mike & Arnell rescued the cutest gray eyed, gray fur’d kitten this a.m. in the main garage—it was stuck in the middle of some netting & could not get out. I guess it’s kinda up for grabs! If no takers then maybe it’ll end up in a shelter. Don’t know how much longer it’ll be able to take the colder temps creep’n up on us. The ‘lil bundle of fur is in a box for right now out at the garage. Any heart strings being tugged???”
I forwarded the email to my husband, who immediately replied “Let’s get him. We need a little joy in our lives.” And that is how I became a cat person.
I never had a cat or dog growing up. My father always claimed to be allergic to cats and neither of my parents wanted the responsibility of a dog. We had lots of small pets: fish, hamsters, a snake, a guinea pig, a bird and a couple of mice.
When we decided to adopt this cat, I went into an absolute panic. I knew nothing about cats. I had no idea what I would need to make him comfortable in our home. My husband talked me through buying foods, toys and a litter box and we prepared to bring him home two days later.
I brought him home to my apartment in a cardboard box. He was so tiny. The vet later estimated that he was only four weeks old. We named him Loki, after the Norse god of mischief—a fitting name since the first thing he did when I let him explore my classroom was get himself stuck in a heating grate.
We fell in love with our tiny kitten. I poured every ounce of my frustrated maternal energy into that cat. He gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning while I was still battling infertility.
In the middle of December, I went through a fourth IVF transfer, this time having four embryos put into my uterus. On Christmas Eve, I started spotting. I thought for sure that the transfer had failed.
I curled up in my bed with my husband, unable to hold back the tears. After a couple minutes, Loki jumped up on the bed, came right over to me and started licking my tears. It was hard to stay upset when this adorable kitten was trying to snuggle with me. I was able to pick myself up and continue celebrating the holiday with my family.
Shockingly, a few days later, I learned that I was pregnant. One of the embryos implanted and in 39 weeks, my daughter would be born.
To this day, I credit Loki for the pregnancy. I had been trying to get pregnant since 2011 and struggled to “just relax”. My every thought was consumed by infertility. It was impossible for me to let go of my anxiety, which was not helping me to get pregnant.
But once we took in Loki, I had something else to focus on, a little creature that needed my love and attention. I truly believe that he helped me to be calm and relaxed during that last transfer.
A few months later, well into my first trimester, we asked our OB for recommendations on how to help Loki adjust to the new baby. After all, he had been the center of our lives for four months and we didn’t want him to feel ignored.
The doctor recommended we get another cat to keep Loki company. We rolled our eyes a bit, but decided to keep an eye out. A couple of weeks later, we spotted a little tan kitten at a local Petco that had been rescued from the city streets. He was the same age as Loki and had been sitting in the shelter for three months.
We put in an application and a few days later, brought home Draco.
Having two six month old kittens in the house was a bit of an adjustment, especially as they figured out how to interact with each other, but by the time our daughter arrived, they were the best of buddies.
There were days after our daughter was born that I felt like I was living in a house with a newborn and two insane toddler twins, because the kittens were still young and so rambunctious. When she was only a few months old, I learned that I am actually allergic to cats. They were no longer allowed to sleep in our bedroom, but I am able to manage my symptoms.
These days, the cats are four years old. They still run around like crazy sometimes and have their playful moments, but they spend most of their time napping, scratching our furniture and whining for treats.
I am so grateful that Loki got tangled in that net at my old job. I never thought I’d be a cat person but I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything in the world. I’m also so happy that we adopted both our cats so they didn’t end up in a shelter or euthanized if they weren’t adopted.
I recently learned that the holidays are a time when shelters see a spike in pets being returned by their owners.
Every year, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized because shelters are full and there are not enough adopters. Cats have higher euthanization rates than dogs, with 71% of cats that enter shelters killed.
The day after Christmas is the highest kill day of shelters across the country. Animals that were not adopted during the holiday season are put down to make room for animals that might be easier to find homes for.
I don’t know about you, but this breaks my heart.
Adopting our cat brought us so much happiness in a very dark time in our lives. When my girls are older, we intend to bring them to a local shelter to volunteer their time. Eventually, I would love them to have their own cats and will, of course, adopt from a shelter.
Shelters across America are filled with animals needing good homes. With the holidays approaching, it’s important to remember that an adoptive pet is not just for Christmas. That pet is with you for its lifetime, so make sure you are fully prepared to take on the responsibility. If that’s not for you, shelters are always in need of volunteers and foster parents.
Cats and dogs are wonderful additions to the family. Giving a home to a shelter animal is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give. And who knows, perhaps like me, your pet will end up rescuing you even more than you rescued him.