It was love at first sight…
I was visiting Barbara at her house soon after she took a job with the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department. She was fussing over a couple of extra cats she had extradited from the shelter. One was a young male with an upper respiratory infection (a cold) that had been slated for euthanasia that day, the other was a young female with the same infection and the same terminal diagnosis.
Barbara already had three cats, Frank, Tony and Joyce so her house was overflowing cats. Her cats were all healthy so she had the sick cats locked in separate bedrooms to protect her precious cats from the infection.
I asked to see the sick cats not having any intention of relieving her of her cat overflow. You see my husband and I were just about to empty our nest. Our twins would be moving out and we were looking forward to not having any responsibilities. Besides we weren’t cat people.
She showed me the sick female cat and I was horrified at the thought of her being put down just because she had a cold. She was a small black cat sitting on Barbara’s bathroom rug looking very forlorn. We petted her and cooed at her a while before we went to the guest room and found the second sick cat under Barbara’s guest bed. We coaxed him out and when I saw him…I fell in love.
He was the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen before and certainly since. She explained he was a Siamese mix with 6 toes on each handsome front paw. I found out since he is a polydactyl, Snowshoe Siamese. Besides being beautiful, he was pathetic, his eyes were watery, he had labored breathing and very little movement. He looked like he hurt. Barbara explained how she had kept him in her desk drawer but finally had to bring him home or he would have been put down.
I understand that sick cats are dangerous in a shelter. They can infect the entire population if something is not done to prevent the infection from spreading.
I knew Barbara, Frank, Tony and Joyce needed a break so I asked if I could foster the Siamese. Barbara was somewhat reluctant. She knew I was not a cat person and didn’t really trust that I could be a good parent to this sick spirit.
I called my husband, who is really not a cat person, and told him I was bringing home a foster cat. I assured him it was just until the cat got well.
We let him go in our house and he crawled into my closet and curled up next to my shoes with the most forlorn look possible. Within a week he was eating and drinking well and most of the respiratory symptoms had gone away. I had a conference to attend out of state so I left him in the capable hands of my loving husband. He quickly named him Lalo and it stuck.
Barbara came by, noticed his improvement and took him back to the shelter. When I heard she had taken him I was upset. How could she??? Well in Barbara’s mind I had fostered the cat back to health and given him a chance to be adopted. In my mind he was already my cat! I had not communicated this to Barbara so she took him while I was gone.
When my husband told me what had happened I went into action! Well as much action as I could given that I was 3,000 miles away. I called Barbara and told her my intent was to adopt Lalo. I called my husband and begged him to go to the shelter and pick him up. (This really didn’t take as much begging as I thought it might, you see, Wally had fallen in love a bit by that time too).
Wally got Lalo from the shelter, brought him home, and to this day he has not been sick once. He is a bit of a scaredy cat but he’s loving and talkative and a big part of the family since all of our kids are gone. We couldn’t be more indebted to Barbara for saving our cat and so many others through her foster program.
I understand that now Barbara doesn’t have to take cats home or keep them in her drawers because she expanded the foster program to keep sick cats out of the shelter but still in the system to be adopted after they are well.
-Carol Wight, Albuqueque, NM