Meet Toffee! Or, “Hello, Kitty”

After close to two years of being petless following the loss of our previous two cats to cancer within just a couple of months of each other, this summer we were finally about ready to reopen our hearts and home to new furry possibilities. We signed up for Petfinder alerts and started to think about scheduling a block of weekends when we could visit shelters and adoption events within relatively easy reach.

But as it turned out, the very animal we were looking for found me first…at work, of all places!  I guess that’s not so surprising, considering that the ASPCA is my employer and members of its staff were in the process of assembling a cuddly cadre of office-foster shelter cats at its administrative building (located in a different part of Manhattan than its adoption center) for its inaugural “City Kitties” adoption event in late June.

So, the story goes something like this:  One of my colleagues who knows me well said, “Claire, you’ve got to meet this cat who just arrived a couple of days ago…she’s totally a Claire cat.”  And then another close colleague chimed in, “Oh yes, she’s beautiful and so sweet!  You’ll love her!” How could I not be intrigued?

I went to the office of her foster mom (who kindly provided the photo below) to investigate, and the little starlet proved very receptive indeed to visitors, welcoming affection and purring away after less than 24 hours out of the shelter:

office foster cat desk shot

She was friendly.  She was healthy.  She was gorgeous.  She had been transferred to the ASPCA from Manhattan’s municipal shelter, the Animal Care Center of NYC, about a month prior and was now yet again in a completely new environment but seemingly no worse for wear.

At roughly five years old, she was clearly an exceptionally adaptable and special animal.  It was hard to imagine what particular set of circumstances had brought her here, but I was grateful that our paths had crossed at such an auspicious time.

That was it — there was no way I was letting someone else snatch her up! I called dibs and also called my husband, telling him that he simply must come and meet her.  He left work early that evening, made a beeline for my office, and was just as enchanted with her as I was.

We readied our apartment for our imminent new family member, and shortly thereafter she was ours.  Here she is, a couple of hours post-move in her new home:

Toffee on Day 1

After a few days of her living with us, we decided to rename her Toffee, both for her coloring and for the fact that her personality is an even combination of sweet and nutty — she’s prone to frenzied, seemingly random fits of determination to a) surpass light speed and b) defy the laws of gravity whenever the spirit moves her (we wonder if she might have a pair of wings concealed under all that fluff).

After a couple of months, once she was good and settled in, we held a “Hello Kitty” party at our place for a few people from my office who had helped make Toffee’s adoption possible in ways great and small, both to thank them for their support and to give them the satisfaction of seeing her comfortable in her new digs.  We decided to go all-out with the theme:

Hello Kitty decorations

Hello Kitty food

And then it got me to thinking:  What if “Hello Kitty” parties became a “thing” to help homeless cats get adopted? Foster caretakers with a sociable cat could hold a “Hello Kitty” party to attract prospective adopters or, at the very least, promote cat adoption in a fun, relaxed setting. New cat parents like us could hold a “Hello Kitty” party to celebrate the joy that their feline family member brings, encouraging others to follow suit.  Luckily for those who are so inclined, retailer Party City offers a staggering array of Hello Kitty party supplies.

Our loving bond with Toffee grows daily. She now snuggles in bed with us every night and sits in our laps, purring to beat the band. Amazingly, she also sits on command without our ever having trained her.

A blast from the pastWe recently found out — completely by accident — that this past summer wasn’t Toffee’s first time at the Animal Care Center of NYC. I happened to be doing some online research for a presentation I gave at a conference last week and came across a New York Social Diary blog post from 2012 about animal adoption centers throughout the city.   All of a sudden, towards the very end of the piece where the Animal Care Center was mentioned, a very familiar face peered out at me (left), complete with a caption referring to her by the same ACC name she had before we adopted and renamed her.

It felt eerie to have been presented with this fleeting glimpse into her more distant past — a past in which homelessness had befallen her at least twice before she joined us.

After all she’s been through, her trust in us is humbling. We look forward to continually confirming for her in the years to come that her trust is well placed and that her place is with us.

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A Cornucopia of RFPs

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here are three new opportunities for support to be thankful for!

  • 9Lives® and the ASPCA are teaming up to donate dry cat food to animal welfare organizations in need. Eligible and interested organizations must apply for at least five pallets of dry cat food; each pallet weighs about 1,050 pounds and contains 84 12-pound bags. Organizations must be willing and able to pick up the food from specific depot sites in Decatur, AL; Fontana or Lathrop, CA; Atlanta, GA; Kankakee, IL; Topeka, KS; Bloomsburg, PA; or Fort Worth, TX. Further information is available online and the application deadline is November 24, 2015.

  • The Winn Feline Foundation is seeking grant proposals for research studies to advance cats’ health. Research studies that are eligible for up to $25,000 in funding include projects applicable to all cats, projects that address breed-specific issues, nutrition, and behavior, as well as projects pertaining to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of abdominal cancer (i.e., liver, pancreas, or intestinal tract). Eligible applicants include faculty veterinarians, postdoctoral fellows, practicing veterinarians, or veterinary students. For more details, see the application guidelines. The application deadline is December 14, 2015.

  • The Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation is inviting grant proposals for research studies that demonstrate innovative approaches to studying the health effects of companion animals on humans via pet ownership or animal-assisted therapy in the areas of Child Health and Development, Healthy Aging, or Mental Health and Wellness. Between five and ten grants amounting to a combined total of up to $200,000 will be awarded. For further information, see the HABRI Foundation’s application guidelines. The deadline to apply is January 27, 2016.

Is Animal Welfare “Women’s Work”?