|Chase Bird, April 2013|
How do you know when it’s the right time to add a new animal to your family?
When Larry and I got married going on 11 years ago, I had one cat, Waddles, and he had two, Thunder Cat and Sam. We melded our two families into one.
In 2007, we added Chase Bird, who showed up as a stray and took up under a bush by the house.
Having four cats in the house was a challenge, but a blessing. I remember lining up four bowls on the kitchen counter and opening cans of food, divvying up the food as evenly as possible, making sure the food in each bowl was nice and moist.
Thunder Cat died in 2009. Waddles died in 2011. And Sam died in 2013.
Now we have only one bowl to fill.
I didn’t think I would ever be able to think of getting another cat. Chase Bird, who had been kept separate behind a baby gate, had the full run of the house for the first time, and I believed he needed to be the center of our attention.
And my heart was broken. Larry’s heart was broken. They broke anew every time we lost one of our babies. How could we invite in more hurt?
A friend of mine told me that she understood my reluctance. But, she said, Larry and I could offer a good home to an animal in need.
And there are so many animals in need.
According to the website of the ASPCA, in the United States, about 7.6 million dogs and cats entershelters each year. Each year, about 1.2 million dogs and about 1.4 million cats are euthanized.
I want to help. I can’t bring home all the animals, but I can help by giving a home to at least one. And as a woman who works for a shelter in a neighboring county told me once, when someone adopts an animal, that action leaves an open space in the shelter for another homeless animal.
I follow our local animal shelter on Facebook. Lately, I’ve been looking at photos of the cats with a different perspective. Would this one like living with us? Would that one get along with Chase Bird?
Yes, bringing in another cat would take some attention away from Chase Bird. But I wonder sometimes if he gets lonely when Larry and I aren’t home.
Waddles and I were a team for over three years before Larry and I got married. It was a struggle to get her and the other cats acclimated to each other. But I remember thinking that Waddles seemed to have more energy, more interest in things, with Thunder Cat and Sam around.
And even though our hearts break when we lose our loved ones, we must admit that the love we’ve received from having our dear cats outweighs any pain we have. Our lives are better because of our beautiful companions.
Larry and I won’t make a quick decision. But we are talking.
When do you know the time is right to expand your pet family?