Saturday, February 9, 2013

How Zoey Joined Our Family

Our oldest pet is Zoey. We estimate she was born around the first of October, 1999. That makes her about thirteen and a half years old. She's kind of a cranky old bat a lot of the time, but you'd never guess she was over five by looking at her. She moves well for her age. She still gets on the counters at night when we're sleeping. She still runs around the house like a total nut, chasing imaginary prey, at least a few times per week. She has some trouble with arthritis, though, and won't go outside in the winter. That's not such a bad thing, because she still brings us "presents" when she goes out. Just this last fall, she brought us a quail!

We've had Zoey since she was about 4 - 5 weeks old. We have no idea who her mother was, or where she came from. The day we brought her home was a day of random chance...or fate. Saturday morning, while we were driving to the local harvest festival, we started discussing maybe getting a kitten. The harvest festival had less to offer the parents of a one year old than we had expected. They really should have called it a brew fest. We didn't stay long, and had no other plans. So, we decided to swing by the local animal shelter and ask for some information.

The gentleman on duty at the shelter that day was very unpleasant. He insisted that it was irresponsible of us to take a pet into a house with a young child and told us that our pet would just end up back at the shelter anyway so we should save our money and not bother. As he was shooing us out the door, another family was on their way in. It was a mom with two little girls, about ages five and seven. The mom was holding a tiny grey kitten. We asked if we could pet the kitten while she talked to the shelter employee. Apparently, this kitten had shown up on her doorstep the previous night. They had no idea who the mom was or where it had come from. It was all alone. They took the kitten in and brought her to the shelter for care as soon as they had a chance.

The shelter employee's mood lightened. He said he'd be happy to take the kitten. Usually they charged people for dropping off an animal, but if she'd just hand the little thing over he would gladly waive the fee. The mom was relieved and thanked him and said she was happy it would be taken care of and go to a good home. The shelter employee explained that was not the case. With growing excitement, he told her that a kitten this young couldn't possibly survive without it's mother and he would have to put the kitten to sleep. He promised that he'd do the procedure himself that very day, though.

The mom was upset. Her children were upset. I was disgusted. +Liam Shepherd was oblivious. He reached out to "pet" the kitten. At that age, he petted by grabbing a handful of fur and yanking. It always resulted in yowls, and often in being scratched or bitten. This kitten, though, just purred. Something in me clicked. I told the mom that since she hadn't signed any papers yet, the kitten was still hers to do with as she pleased. I offered to take the kitten, promising to take it straight to our vet for a professional opinion. If it did need to be put down, we would have it done, but if it could be saved we would take care of it. The shelter employee tried to convince us that the kitten belonged to the shelter as soon as she entered the building. He started yelling at me! The mom agreed to give us the kitten. Her girls told us that they had named the kitten Zoey, and the mom told them that it was our kitten now so we got to pick it's name. I leaned over and told the girls "If her name is Zoey, who am I to change it?" No one was actually sure if the kitten was male or female yet, but I intended to leave her name if she was a girl.

We had another cat in our home at that time, and a wonderful vet only a block from our apartment. I took her into the vet. They were technically closed and cleaning up for the day, but cooed over Zoey. When we told them the story, the staff was so touched that they examined her for free. She was perfectly healthy. The vet sent us home with supplies, instructions, and all the kitten formula we would need -also for free. He said it was thanks for saving Zoey from a shelter that apparently had a pretty nasty reputation. We had to bottle feed her around the clock those first weeks. Liam helped, and took great pride in caring for her when he was little They've always had a deep bond. Thirteen and a half years later, she's strong and healthy, and a happy, loving member of the family.