A couple of weeks ago I entered the shelter on a Sunday morning, making my rounds to all the cat cages and making sure everyone was okay. In the office of our shelter, we have smaller stainless steel cages. Typically, we use these as a “quarantine” area for new cats entering the shelter. I’ve noticed that the smallness of the space doesn’t overwhelm a newcomer so much. The stainless steel is also easier to disinfect. Most of this year these cages have been empty on days that I volunteer. New cats were quickly taken to the vet to get tested and checked, thus they found themselves a larger cage quicker. However, we are completely overwhelmed right now with kitties. These cages fill quickly now. That morning I heard hissing from the top leftmost cage. I opened the door to find a terrified black cat.
This cat was Blaze. He had himself trapped behind his litter box. After his initial hissing, Blaze started meowing at me. It wasn’t the type of meow that said, “Hey, how’s it going? Nice to meet ya.” His meow was one of distress. I read his cage card to see if anything was the matter physically with him that I couldn’t detect visually. Healthy as they come. Blaze’s meowing had me a little unnerved.
I gave Blaze a few deep blinks before sticking my hand in his cage. When he returned the blinks and started purring, I put my hand halfway in his cage. Blaze met my hand to smell it. Then he rubbed his cheek against me. I started to give him cheek scratches and continued the deep blinks. I spoke softly to him, in which he responded well. I knew he would be okay once Blaze showed me his belly.
Later that morning I spoke to Marge. She told me his history, which goes a little something like this:
Blaze was frequenting the streets in a bad area of Paterson. A good Samaritan had been watching him for several weeks. One day, a group of vile kids ganged up on Blaze. They tried breaking his legs because of the color of his fur. The good Samaritan intervened, rescuing Blaze. She kept Blaze as long as she could with her other cats. She was living in an abandoned building with the cats. One of the females, Bubbles, suffered complications while giving birth, so she called START II. She was no longer able to care for all of the cats and asked START II to help find them homes. We did. Blaze had not suffered any major injuries from horrible experience on the street.
The following day (Monday) I was at the shelter again. Blaze was still distressfully meowing from his cage. When I checked on him, he was in the same position behind the litter box. We went through our Sunday morning ritual. This time Blaze came a little closer to the front. He had feces caked to his fur near his thigh. I moved his litter box and saw that he wasn’t using it, but, rather, was going all over himself. I cleaned him up and let Jodi know. We both felt really bad that he was having a hard time adjusting. To make sure he ate, we placed his food and water near the back of the cage with him.
On Wednesday I was at the shelter again. Luckily, Blaze began using the litter box. He still was meowing like crazy. Blaze started meowing more when we walked away from his cage. Kinda like he was suffering from separation anxiety. Jodi started telling me about when she picked up Blaze and Bubbles (she had just gotten out of kitty hospital, after she had an emergency procedure), they were really friendly together. Then it clicked. Jodi wondered if he was missing his pal, Bubbles. Both of us transferred Bubbles into a huge condo cage. She didn’t mind the extra room. We tried getting Blaze, but he wouldn’t let us pick him up. We weren’t going to give up though.
Thursday afternoon I received a text message with a picture from Jodi. Blaze’s transfer to Bubble’s cage was a success!
By the time Sunday rolled around, Blaze was a completely different cat. He socialized with everyone, took strolls out of his cage, ate throughout the day, and played with kittens. He was being a normal cat again. Blaze followed Mona and me around everywhere.
It’s been a few weeks since he first arrived in our care. He’s doing wonderful. Bubbles made a huge difference in Blaze coming out of his shell. She was the only “person” that made him feel comfortable. Despite what Blaze has been through, he still trusts people – in fact, he loves them to pieces. When I was taking his pictures, he kept trying to give kisses to the camera lens. Blaze is going to make a family very lucky they adopted him.
We thought that Blaze and Bubbles would have to be adopted together. However, once Blaze regained his confidence, Bubbles and him would do their own thing and play with different cats. Sometimes it seemed like they were happy to get away from each other. Although we’re not pushing that they be adopted together, it would still be nice to keep these two friends together. Especially during the transition of a shelter to a home.
Below are their Petfinder profiles. Both are available for adoption as of today!