The first cat I started writing about at START II was Wilson. I began volunteering a week after Ron and I adopted Castiel and Ishtar. When you walked through the door at the shelter, Wilson’s cage was eye-level across the room. He was a run-of-the-mill brown tiger-striped tabby with a scrawny tail and huge head. Seriously. His head looked like it was too big for his body. But there was something about him that attracted me to him. I remember when Ron and I met Castiel and Ishtar for the first time, I had also looked at Wilson. Somehow I knew the match wouldn’t be right.
From October 2010 to January 2011, I spent a lot of extra time with Wilson. Every morning when I opened his cage, he gave me his own type of hug. I dubbed them “Wilson hugs,” and I still use the term today when other cats display the same affection. Both of his front paws found their way around my shoulders and he would climb out of his cage onto my chest. Then Wilson would rub his cheek against mine. His show of affection nearly made me cry at times, especially on days when coping with Morpheus’ death was difficult.
Wilson enjoyed sleeping in my lap. I would set aside time before I left the shelter so he could have adequate lap time. Most days he would fall right asleep, purring like a motor boat. Sometimes he’d give himself a bath first. Regardless, I was completely relaxed when he was on my lap.
According to other volunteers, Wilson was rescued from Paterson. When he first arrived at the shelter he was really sick. Volunteers that worked with him daily didn’t think he was going to make it. However, out of nowhere, he made a miraculous recovery. By the time I met him, it was hard to believe that he was waiting at death’s door a month or so prior.
Everyday I was at the shelter, I spoiled Wilson with extra hugs, kisses, and lap time. Don’t get me wrong. I spoiled all the kitties at the shelter. But I feel a different connection with Wilson. Certainly not the same connection I felt with Morpheus or was developing with Castiel and Ishtar. There was something special between us that words can’t begin to describe. All I know is the way I felt. And I felt protective of Wilson.
In late-January 2011, Wilson was moved to Petsmart in Paramus. I was crushed. I knew it was coming, as all of our kitties go to one of the Petsmart locations we adopt from (granted they are not in foster care or adopted from the shelter). Still, it pained me to see him gone. Logically, I knew the move was best for him. He had a greater chance at adoption. Emotionally, I was devastated. I cried the day he left.
Ron knew how attached I was becoming to Wilson. He suggested that we visit him during an adoption night. So, we did.
Poor Wilson wasn’t himself. He looked depressed. Wilson didn’t give me any of his namesake hugs when he saw me. In fact, it was like he didn’t recognize me. Even Ron commented on how depressed he looked. Wilson sulked toward the back of his cage the majority of the evening. When he came to the front, his head was low and he picked at food, not enjoying the meal. I felt a pang of guilt run through me for not adopting him. I picked him up and held him for a long time, giving lots of kisses. He didn’t purr for me.
Wilson didn’t stay at Petsmart for very long. A couple of weeks later, I received news he was adopted. I was apprehensive and happy at the same time. Like I said, I was protective of Wilson. Any home wouldn’t do. It had to be the home. Wilson was adopted into a family with children who went absolutely bonkers over him. When I heard that, I let the apprehension drip away and was overwhelmed with happiness. My big-headed Wilson finally found his forever home.
I still think about him and wonder how he’s doing. I hope he is healthy and well, spoiling his family with Wilson hugs and kisses. And I hope his new family realizes that they are very lucky have him in their lives and he chose them – not the other way around.