Saturday, October 22, 2016


My little boy, Shiro, is about 6 1/2 years old.  We rescued him five years ago.  I was never a cat fan, in fact, I used to joke saying cats were spawns of Satan.  My parents weren't cat fans either.  My husband and I have been married for six years.  Five years ago when we were living in Charlotte, NC, my husband was laid off from work.  We weren't sure what to do because we had no income coming in at all.  At the time I wasn't on disability yet.  We couldn't afford to live in our apartment anymore, so we were looking into other apartments that were cheaper (we ended up moving to Knoxville, TN and lived next door to my husband's parents).  At one apartment complex we were looking into moving to, we saw a white cat.  He instantly stole my heart.  He was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen before!  He was also very thin.  We asked someone who was working at the apartment office about him and they said his owners used to live there, but when they moved they left their cat behind.  He'd been on his own (we don't know for how long) and the neighbors were getting upset because at night he'd sleep in front of their doors on the welcome mat.  My heart sank.  For the first time in my life, I really wanted a cat.  We tried to go out and see him, but he was so scared he'd run away.  I talked to my husband about it and he said, "There's no way we can take him in right now, we don't have them money to take care of him."  So I prayed every night asking God, "Please let us be able to take care of this cat, if not us, have someone else take him in please."  We'd go visit the apartment complex a couple times after getting some cat treats to see if we could get close to him.  He was very scared like a feral cat, but when he heard the treats shaking he'd slowly come over, which showed us there was some part of him that was still tame.  We'd put some treats on the ground and he'd check them out.  The last time we went to see him, the lady working at the office said they were going to call the pound to pick him up.  I told my husband, "We have to take him in.  If we don't, there's a chance he won't make it.  Puppies and kittens are easy to adopt out, but adult animals aren't as easily adoptable."  My husband and I discussed it with each other and talked to a friend about it too who had a lot of cats.  We discussed that until we had the money, she could maybe take care of him for us. When we talked to our parents about it, they were completely against it.  My husband and I thought about it and decided to go against our parents wishes and take him in.

The apartment complex trapped him twice, since the first time he actually escaped.  When we got there and they had him trapped, we could hear his pitiful whining.  He was so scared.  The first thing we did was take him to the vet.  I had a hard time figuring out a name for him.  I knew I wanted a Japanese name though.  We called the vet a couple times and I kept changing the name because I couldn't decide on one.  My friend and I thought about it and we came up with the name Shiro, which is Japanese for "white."  We took him to the vet and he was very much like a feral cat.  He also had his claws so it was difficult getting near him.  When the vet took him out to weigh him, he escaped and ran under something (I forgot what it was since I wasn't in the room with them) and kept hissing at them.  I think they had to wear gloves too because of his claws.  They eventually got him and did blood work for him but that was about it.  They couldn't even clip his nails!  When they finished they gave him back to us and told us how difficult he had been.  We really struggled, but we were able to pay for the vet bills.
Before we had trapped him, we bought him food and cat litter and it was all waiting, ready for him back at our apartment.  We discussed that we wouldn't tell the apartment complex yet about us having a cat because it would cost extra and we were really tight on money.  When we brought Shiro home, we put him in our bathroom.  I made him a bed under the bathroom sink and I had heard when bringing in a cat to a new area, leave one area that's small for them to get used to.  The bathroom was the perfect place.  We let him out in the bathroom and not only did he go under the sink, he somehow climbed into one of the drawers!  Our plan for not telling the apartment complex wasn't going to work.  We called them to come and told them the situation and they brought someone from maintenance with them.  They literally had to break the drawer to get Shiro out.  We realized the bathroom wasn't going to work.  Now that the complex knew we had a cat, we had to pay extra money, which we really didn't have.  Maintenance was okay with fixing the drawer after a few days.  My husband and I decided we would have Shiro in our bedroom instead of the bathroom.  There wasn't really anywhere he could get himself in trouble in there.  He hid under the bed for hours.  I couldn't fit under the bed, plus I didn't want to scare him even more.  So I just sat in the bedroom hoping he'd come out eventually.  That night our church was having a speaker come who was going to talk about art and Christianity.  I had actually been looking forward to it, but now that Shiro was here, I wanted to stay at home for him.  The pastors wife called me and told me I needed to go because she thought I would really enjoy it and I had made plans to go.  This made me really angry.  I didn't want to leave Shiro all alone.  I explained to her we had just rescued a cat but she didn't really seem to care.  But I went anyway.  It was a good talk, but I was still upset the whole time I was there. I just kept thinking about how scared Shiro was.  That night when I got back home, he had not come out to eat or use the litterbox yet.  He stayed under the bed for hours.  Finally at about two or there in the morning while my husband and I were asleep, we heard his pitiful whining.  My husband turned to me and said, "Honey, the baby needs you."  We both got up though and put food in his bowl.  He eventually came out and started eating.  Even though he was really scared of me, for weeks he wouldn't eat unless I was watching him.  When I'd get near him he'd scratch me up pretty badly.  But I didn't care, I knew he was really scared.
It took about a month before he finally started to trust me.  It took about another month before he started trusting my husband.  Once he started trusting us a bit more and we were able to get a kitty carrier for him, we took him to the Humane Society to get him neutered.  It was cheaper at the Humane Society than the vet.  We also had them clip his nails (I think it was only five bucks to get them trimmed there).  As we were leaving we felt really bad.  We saw some of the cats in little cages waiting to be adopted and they looked so miserable.  It made me so sad to see them and I thought "I wish I could adopt them all."  My husband felt bad too, though his feelings were different from mine. He was thinking more of how he was glad he didn't have to get neutered because, er, yea, for obvious reasons.  We were able to pick up Shiro in a few hours and unlike at the vets office, they were actually able to trim his nails.  I don't remember very much of what he was like after we got him back, I think he was really tired but I really don't remember much.  We fed Shiro as much as we could when we first got him because he looked like he was starving when we first got him.  He was very underweight.  So every time his food bowl was empty, we'd fill it up more.  Eventually he was not only not underweight, he began to get overweight!  When we took him to the vet again, he was now about fifteen pounds!  The normal weight he needed to be was ten pounds.  Since he was no longer "starving," we realized we needed to limit his food.  You see, for years I've struggled with my own weight.  I didn't want him to end up like me.  Obesity is also very common with cats and he really doesn't exercise very much (like most house cats).  He mostly sleeps all day.  We'd get him toys but he didn't play with them much.  Even after limiting how much food he'd get (one cup in the morning and one cup at night), he still wasn't losing weight.  So we put him on weight control food.
Today he weighs about 11 pounds.  He loves my husband and I and really seems to trust us.  He's still scared of other people, but there are some exceptions too.  He seems to trust women more than men.  My husband and I think his previous owner might've been a man and must've been abusive or something.  Shiro never has to worry about being out in the rain because he has no shelter anymore.  He never has to worry about being kicked out or abandoned.  He never has to worry about not having a place to sleep.  He never has to worry about not eating for a day.  He's a very happy kitty.  I can't have children, so he's the closest I have to having a child.  Sometimes he scratches me still, but that's only when I cuddle with him too much.  He really doesn't care too much about being cuddled with.  Sometimes I can't help it though.  I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and when I cuddle with him, it helps calm me down.  Even when I have nightmares sometimes, he'll come up to me and start giving me "kitty kisses."  Even our parents have accepted him!  My parents who hate cats have even grown to love him.  My mom has even said, "I'm glad you rescued him."  They say when you rescue an animal, you are healing them.  I hope that's true, but you know what I know is true?  Shiro has been one of my healers too (my husband and God are on that list too)!
I know he can't read this, but Shiro, thank you for letting me take you in.  Thank you for being my little angel.  I don't know where I'd be without you.  You're very precious to me and I'm so glad I get to be your cat-mom.  Love you, mommy's little boy <3

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