How working together can make a real difference in the lives of animals
By Liz White, Director
In August 2008, two little cats arrived at Animal Alliance. Spice, the mother was six years old, Cajun the daughter, two. For some reason they were surrendered to Toronto Animal Services, where they were put up for adoption. But it seemed that nobody wanted them – at least not together.
Recognizing the strong bond between the two, Animal Services staff asked if we would take the pair and give them a better chance at being adopted together.
Lia, Shelly and I agreed and so they arrived.
We fell in love with them. Spice who had a fulsome figure insisted on occupying laps even when it was inconvenient. She particularly focused on Morris, our volunteer, who sat for hours thanking our donors; she was utterly indignant when he needed to move. Cajun loved to just hang out with everyone.
They lived at Animal Alliance for eight months and although we loved them unreservedly, they found it challenging to live in an office environment. Spice and Cajun, like so many other cats, faced enormous change in their lives in such a short period of time. They were removed from their home, taken to a shelter and brought to an office. Their stress was expressed in certain problematic behaviour. Spice developed a stress skin condition and Cajun would occasionally urinate outside the litter box.
Luckily, in March of 2009, after talking to my sister about them since their arrival, she offered to take both, giving them a second chance at a loving home. I told Mary about what issues they might face with Cajun and Spice, but as it turned out, she and the family decided to adopt them and allow them time to adjust.
For nine years, Spice and Cajun became members of a family again and ultimately became two pretty well adjusted cats. They shared their home with other cats who arrived after them. They traveled to and from the family cottage where they spent the summer lying on the deep window sills, breathing in the beautiful fresh country air.
This past summer, Spice lost her fulsome figure and became a gaunt, bony girl. At age 15, she had developed kidney disease. However, she maintained her healthy appetite and her love of sitting on laps and that remained with her until the last month of her life.
In the days leading up to Christmas, the disease seemed to really take hold and her condition deteriorated. She died on the 26th. There were lots of tears when Spice died but they were shed knowing that she had been exactly where she wanted to be and she was at peace.
The story of Spice and Cajun shows what can be accomplished when we work together to make the lives of animals better.
Considerable gratitude goes to the Toronto Animal Services staff for recognizing the special needs of these two cats and for determinedly reaching out to find them a better placement. And tremendous appreciation goes to the family for giving these two a permanent home knowing that they faced challenges in doing so.