By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It wasn’t my first trip there, but somehow I knew this time would be different.
There are paw prints leading up to the door, painted on the asphalt with the same shade of safety yellow used to mark the outlines of the parking spaces. Big paw prints. Larger than any lion, or tiger or bear could hope to leave. Yet as I opened the door to go inside I gasped a silent “oh my!” in my head.
Just to the right of the entrance, there’s another door — this one a screen door with a hook and latch on the inside. It opens onto a small vestibule barely large enough to allow you to open yet another door, another screen door with a hook and a latch.
It’s behind this third door that you’ll find a sunny, warm room filled with all a cat’s favorite things: toys, scratching posts, things to climb. It’s the cat play room at the Palm Valley Animal Center.
I went there two years ago looking for a cat. It had been a while since I had had a pet, but having grown up with cats, dogs, fish and even the occasional backyard lizards we kids “claimed” as pets, I’d missed having a furry companion around.
Within seconds of sitting down on a small stool, a kitten came bounding towards me and started winding its way between my ankles. I scooped it up and asked if it was a boy or a girl. He was a boy and he became enthralled with a lock of hair that had fallen across my face.
I had only intended to look at the cats — to get an idea of what was available for adoption — but there was something special about this tiny kitty that sat in my lap seemingly smiling as I scratched underneath his chin.
But, since I hadn’t prepared any supplies beforehand, it was another week before I could take him home. By the time I returned to the shelter he’d developed a respiratory infection which sapped him of strength and required antibiotics. He was pulled from the adoption pool, but I was allowed to bring him home as a foster if I promised to see to his medical care. I agreed instantly.
He was sicker than he appeared. I soon learned he had intestinal parasites, too. Between the vets at the shelter and daily medicine ministrations by me, though, he soon recovered and made himself at home. He’s been practically glued to my hip ever since.
In two years, I’ve learned my feline friend doesn’t purr, but he does snuffle and squeak. He likes belly rubs, but not catnip. He likes squeaky mice toys and laying on top of my shoes. He doesn’t like dental cat treats, but he does like sitting on my shoulder and burying his muzzle at the nape of my neck. He greets me every time I get home from work, and I’ve even taught him how to sit on command.
I fostered him for almost a year before I signed the official adoption paperwork at a Clear the Shelter event, which is observed annually by animal shelters across the country. The next one is coming up soon — on Saturday, Aug. 19 — and our very own Isabel Y. Garcia Animal Shelter in Port Isabel will be taking part. The folks at the shelter do amazing work with the animals committed to their care, but there’s nothing they want more than to see them find “furever” homes. It’s been two years since my cat chose me as his person and I’ve been so glad he did every day since.
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.