Quite a few people found new love during the pandemic, including me. No worries – my marriage is still solid. This great love of my life has four legs and a long tail. It started innocently enough. I was a television reporter back in May 2020, writing a story about new protocols animal shelters had to initiate to stay in-line with pandemic restrictions when introducing prospective pet parents to their potential new best buddies. Lonely people across the country were storming shelters to adopt pets.
“There was this cat.”
I think that is how I started the conversation with my husband about my desire to adopt a cat I cuddled at the shelter while filming my story. Mind you, I was hardly starved for animal companionship – I had three big dogs at home. This cat the shelter had named Darlene managed to capture my heart. She had a sweet, calm demeanor. She was not aloof; I thought cats were supposed to be aloof. I guess because he knew I was a stressed-out essential worker, my husband agreed to make her a member of our family. We celebrated “Adopt a Shelter Cat” month by, well, adopting a shelter cat. I honestly did not even know there was such an observance every June.
The day before I was to pick Darlene up from the Humane Society of Genesee County, I was a wreck. I had no idea what to do with a cat. I knew I needed a litter box and some sort of crate to carry her home. I knew I needed cat food, and I got the same brand the HSGC had been feeding her. I researched “cat stuff” online and purchased a cat tree, several toys, a cat teepee, cat bed, a tunnel and, of course, catnip. Despite my pet supply bill, I was still quite nervous about being a good mom to this cat, whom we chose to name Ellie.
I put her in the travel crate, and started making my way home. Suddenly, I heard this sound – this odd moan that sounded like the moaner had just inhaled helium. I wondered if this was a normal cat sound, or if I should turn around and have the shelter vet examine Ellie. Then, I remembered reading that many cats are not fond of either car rides or crates. The pre-cat online research paid off once again when a flash of inspiration came that I should put on some reggae music. I read something about cats liking it, mon. It quieted her down.
When I finally got Ellie home, she emerged from the crate, walked over to me, sat on my lap and started purring. I showed her where her food and litter were, and her cat tree. I showed her the toys and catnip I set up on my sun porch. She was interested in none of it. She went exploring around the house and after surveying every inch of our abode, Ellie came back to me, looked up and started talking. This wasn’t just a simple meow. It was several paragraphs of meows. I guess she was saying she was happy, because she came right back to my lap.
From the day I brought her home, Ellie has been a friend to my dogs and husband, and a constant source of love and amusement for our family.
According to the National Kitten Coalition, 3.4 million cats enter shelters across the country every year. Maybe you think you’re not a cat person; maybe you’re not. Or maybe, you have just never given cats a chance. Before you write cats off entirely, I highly recommend stopping by a shelter to meet a couple. What’s the best thing that could happen? You could find a love you never imagined.