Friday, June 5, 2009

Adoption Tails

Quentin, the (Formerly) Hard-Luck Cat


Quentin, the hard-luck cat who was found living on his own outside San Quentin Prison, has taken to the domestic life quite nicely, thank you.

The 3-year-old male was found with a badly infected eye which had to be removed and severely matted hair which had to be shaved off once he came under the care of the San Francisco SPCA.

One-eyed Willie, as he's now sometimes affectionately called, made himself right at home by jumping into bed with his humans on his very first night. And there he's stayed. "I got him a little cat bed," said Natalia Banderos, who recently adopted Quentin at the San Francisco SPCA. "But he treats our bed like it's his. He likes the couch and he likes the bed."

Quentin's long, gray hair is growing back, and the scar over his left eye socket is healing nicely, giving him the rakish look of a swashbuckler. "My boyfriend calls him One-eyed Willie and I call him Onesy," Banderos said.

She and her boyfriend had initially come into Maddie's adoption center looking for a kitten. But after looking around and meeting some of the SPCA's wonderful adult cats, they changed plans – finding themselves drawn to Quentin. "My boyfriend saw him first," she said. "He was really pretty cool. And when we went in and met him he was super loving."
Banderos says she's always liked cats, and has had four. She finds them low maintenance pets.

She's also been drawn to their ability to be independent thinkers. She had some reservations about Quentin's background, but was assured it was a good match after being interviewed by SPCA volunteers and staffers. "I was afraid he wouldn't like me because he's had such a hard life," she said.

If she had any further doubts, they were removed that first night when "Onesy" jumped in bed, cuddled against her, purred and fell asleep.

Miss Fluffy Spice Girl

miss fluffy

Miss Fluffy Spice Girl is eating well, playing with her toys and enjoying all the attention she gets. She is happy. More precisely, she is a happy senior citizen.

Christy Bergman adopted Miss Fluffy, a 17-year-old cat with signs of early renal failure at the San Francisco SPCA a year ago. Since going home, a healthy Miss Fluffy has celebrated her 18th birthday. "It's going just great," Bergman said. "Sometimes I'm surprised when I remember how old she is."

Bergman says she and her boyfriend had not necessarily been looking for an older cat when they visited Maddie's adoption center. But a certain party had other ideas. "We hit it off as soon as I met her," Bergman said, recalling their charmed first encounter. "We talked about it and decided 'hey, if we can get a couple good years, why not?'" she said.

Bergman needed some patience when she got home. It took Miss Fluffy a month to feel comfortable. In the early days she often hid under the bed or in a closet – not surprising behavior for an older cat whose routine had been disrupted.

Bergman was very happy with her experience at the SPCA. "They really understand cats there," she said. Miss Fluffy is her first cat. She had always been a dog person. She was ready to make the switch. "Our lifestyle is very busy and we're right in the middle of the city," she said. "A cat seemed ideal." And it has been an ideal experience.

Miss Fluffy still plays with toys and has developed a fondness for the barley grass Bergman buys at the Farmers' Market. All of the cats at the SPCA are altered, and the experts say cats no longer show much gender-specific behavior.

Don't tell that to Miss Fluffy. Her favorite spot in Bergman's house is in the middle of the living room, lounging on the carpet – arrayed for all to admire her beauty. And despite what the experts say, people who live with older female cats find that behavior not all that uncommon. Especially when they're feeling safe and secure in their homes.

Kitten Season at City College


On a recent day the folks in the store where Karen Sheppard works at City College held an unintended celebration of kitten season. The occasion? The arrival of litter of wandering kittens, followed soon by their feral mother.

It's a familiar scene in San Francisco. Cats breed in season. Litters, feral and otherwise, are a fixture from late spring until late fall in the streets, in the parks and in some homes with unaltered cats. Sheppard gathered the group, which had just wandered into the store, and took them to Animal Care and Control, the city's destination for stray and unwanted animals — and a primary source of the animals up for adoption at the SPCA. But it didn't end there for Sheppard, who followed the family with cat-like curiosity. She phoned frequently, learning the mother had been spayed and returned to the wilds of City College, deemed too feral to domesticate. The kittens were adopted, save one frightened male, Barnaby.

Barnaby, Sheppard learned, was still awaiting adoption at the San Francisco SPCA. "They took very good care of him," she said of the volunteers and staffers at Maddie's adoption center. "You could tell everybody cared about what they were doing, cared about animals." She took over for the SPCA, adopting the kitten and renaming him Coda. "He's doing well," she said, noting she is prepared for the patience sometimes required when raising feral kittens. "He's a little stressed."

In following the guidelines provided by the SPCA, Sheppard is keeping Coda in a small room, with his water, food and litter box all nearby. And he'll stay in his small room until he shows signs that he's ready to take on more. "We're not in a hurry," she said. "We don't want to stress him out." Sheppard describes herself as a cat person who likes dogs too. "Cats just fit my lifestyle the best," she said. And that lifestyle right now involves making time to serve as Coda's surrogate parent.

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