Bringing Home Sylvester: A Feline Adoption Story

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be blogging about adopting a cat, I would have openly scoffed at this notion (or maybe even laughed in your face). A series of unfortunate events and encounters with cats throughout my elementary and junior high years developed a fear of all-things-cat that followed me well into my adulthood.

Fast forward closer to the present when the Optometrist entered the scene of my life, whose experiences with cats had been positive and where aggressive behavior was the exception, rather than the rule. Early in our relationship I described my previous, fear-inducing experiences with cats I had tried, unsuccessfully, to befriend. He patiently listened and said, “The types of cats you’re describing would be like trying to have a homeless, schizophrenic person come and live in your house.”


Once this analogy took root in my mind it began to turn the tide; slowly allowing me to be brave and more open to the prospect of overcoming my feline fears.

Even though the Optometrist loves animals, I appreciate how he has been patient with me and hasn’t pushed, prodded, or begged to adopt a cat in order for me to “just get over it.” We had also talked about adopting a dog, but we knew the ease of caring for a cat would be more fitting with our current lifestyle. Therefore, over the past year or so we have routinely gone to the local pet store, which houses a few kitties from the Humane Society in need of adoption, in order for my animal-loving husband to get his pet therapy fix. Little did I realize that these trips were serving as a type of therapy for me, too.

The true turning point occurred on February 21 during a drop-in, let’s go-pet-the-kitties visit. We entered the store and saw a handsome white and black, male cat named Sylvester sitting amid the inventory along one of the aisles. As we squatted down to pet him, he left his perch on the boxes and promptly crawled into my lap.

At that moment something inside of me melted. I looked at the Optometrist and he knew that a special, tipping-point moment had just occurred. As if Sylvester knew what was going on, a moment later he took his leave with me and promptly crawled in the Optometrist’s lap.

After that evening we began talking about adoption what-ifs and gathered more background information about Sylvester:

  • he had previously been adopted by an older gentleman, but after a short amount of time was returned to the Humane Society after his owner began having health concerns.
  • it has been around 2 years since he re-entered the Humane Society, making him around 5-6 years old.
  • during this stint he tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Because of this diagnosis, which we will have a second test performed to confirm, we think his condition scared off some prospective adopters.

Yet none of these sad facts deterred us from moving ahead and finally deciding that he needed his forever home to be with us.

This past Friday, March 20, we made it official and brought him home! Friday was also the first day of Spring, for which the symbolism of embracing new life and the inevitably of seasons changing is not lost on me.

Since he is an older cat and has been in a home before, he made a fairly seamless transition and has been such a good kitty: eating and drinking from his food and water bowls, using his litter box, engaging with us as we play with him, not scratching the furniture, and continuing his pattern of affection by crawling into our laps to be petted.

We’ve slowly introduced him to different rooms of the house, so he won’t become overwhelmed with too much change all at once. Yesterday afternoon we invited him in our room where he thoroughly enjoyed making himself comfortable on our soft bed, which prompted a celebratory nap.

If I may say so, I’m very proud for realizing my past doesn’t define my present or my future. Knowing this, I cinch up another notch on the bravery belt and remind myself that it’s good and healthy to be open to new opportunities, even those that frighten me at present, but which will someday be overcome.


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