Ten year old Mr Tigger was brought to CPW when the owner couldn’t take him into rental accommodation.
It’s a traumatic decision for owners and cats both, and sadly we see it often at our shelter.
Mr Tigger showed resilience in the shelter, making the best of the situation and settling in patiently. But sadly, it was clear he wouldn’t have a straight-forward adoption.
He had ongoing digestive issues and was on vet-prescribed food. He would also need regular vet checkups, so he was accepted into CPW’s Care for Life foster programme.
CPW’s foster care programme helps pay for medical bills for elderly cats and cats with long-term health issues, so they can find comfortable homes for the rest of their lives.
Helen and Andrew visited the shelter in early 2019, planning to look at older cats who needed homes.
“I think a lot of older cats get overlooked,” Helen says. “We’d just come back from overseas. A home’s not a home without a cat. It’d been a couple of years since our last cat passed away.”
They liked the CPW shelter for its warm personality, and walked around meeting the cats. Then Mr Tigger just made a beeline for Andrew, and stuck like glue.
“I turned to Helen and said, ‘I’ve been selected by a cat!’ That’s how it works – the cat selects you, not the other way around. “We did want a tabby, though.”
They hadn’t banked on finding a cat with health problems, but they didn’t hesitate. They’d already connected with their handsome tabby, medical issues or not. Home he went with them.
First order of business was a change of name. Helen and Andrew had just stayed in Italy, so they named him after Giacomo Leopardi, the 19th century philosopher and poet. He became Leo for short.
Now he’s super-happy, his stomach fur has all grown back, with adorable spots (“Don’t touch the spots!”).
“He’s got more affectionate as he’s got more relaxed,” Helen says, adding that he has a favourite evening ritual. “We say, ‘Go to bed?’ and he races up the stairs and plays tag through the bannisters with Andrew.”
Andrew says this game of paws catching hands has a limited daily life: “You can have about three pats before you lose a finger.”
Andrew says he sleeps in his own bed, but “visits us at 4 in the morning to see if we’ll feed him”.
Leo has made friends with one of the girl cats next door, and spends time lounging on the driveway or the roof with her. She even visits the house, waiting at his catflap to see if he can come out and play. “He won’t have a bar of any cat but her.”
Best of all, after three months in his own home, the stomach issues resolved themselves. Leo transitioned from the vet diet back to an ordinary diet, and has been healthy ever since.
“The vet was astonished when we took him back,” Helen said. “He’s gone from less than 4kg to 5.5kg."
Since he’s doing so well, Leo’s folks have decided to keep him forever, adopting him out of the Care for Life foster programme. Although Leo’s vet care could be billed to CPW as per the foster arrangement, Helen and Andrew had generously chosen to pay all the bills themselves.
And even though the foster arrangement is for the rest of the cat’s life, he still technically belonged to CPW. Helen and Andrew decided they wanted to make him theirs, so they talked to CPW, and changed the foster to adoption.
Helen reasoned that the money CPW doesn’t need to spend on Leo can be spent on other cats in need. And anyway: “There’s no way I’m giving him back!”