Trying to adopt a cat can be a tricky situation – especially when you’re disabled.
I spoke to multiple charities about adoption, spoke with many rescues, and I had just one interview to meet a cat.
Every rescue I applied to either completely ignored me or rejected me based on my telephone appointment. I just wished they’d rejected me for the right reasons.
I applied to three charities [Note: I’m not writing this to bash them, this is to document how difficult it is to adopt as a disabled person, so I won’t be naming the charities].
On each application, I stated the same things – I have drop attacks that can leave me immobilised for up to 30 minutes and happen between 10-20 times a day. I explained that I am an Ambulatory Wheelchair user. And I clarified that my cat would be an indoor cat with supervised outdoor access. I also said that our household is disabled, with all three of us being disabled. Though in different ways.
The first charity ignored my application. How do I know? I got a notification stating they read my email… After over a week of not hearing anything, I decided to apply elsewhere. After all, their website said they’d get back in touch with applicants within 48 hours. And, I’d like to advise you, the cat I applied for is still waiting for a home… Six weeks later.
The cat I applied for was an affectionate tortie, over four years old, looking to live alone or with other cats. They wanted her to be an indoor cat only. I fitted all the criteria for what she needed, so I certainly didn’t get ignored for that reason.
The second rescue booked a phone call with me to discuss the cat’s needs and my needs. They were happy with everything that I was saying – e.g. she’d have full access to the house; she’d be played with, she’d have climbing space, etc. They were fine with my father being in a wheelchair. But not me.
They said, “Well, when you’re in a wheelchair, who’s going to take care of the cat?”
Last time I checked, being in a wheelchair doesn’t make it impossible to take care of a cat. But according to this rescue, that’s exactly what it means. They terminated the application process due to there being no able people in my household to take care of the cat.
The third rescue lied to me. I attended a visit to meet the cat, and she was in no fit condition to be adopted. Certainly not in the way they were advertising her. She was very clearly a previously feral cat. She may like a stroke, but she was very unsocialised. But, with that being said, I’m one for second chances, and I was willing to have her. We’re a grown-up household, so it wouldn’t be much of an issue for us. The same day, after I left, they contacted me to say I might not be able to have her due to the fact she mauled the carer…
And it was at that point that I got confused. Cats aren’t known for just randomly mauling people – not biting or attacking, but mauling.
The red flag was risen. I spoke with the carer later in the day, who advised that this was “normal behaviour” for this cat.
But this hadn’t been said to me in the interview. Nothing about her being vicious. So, I told them I couldn’t take her.
Sadly, none of the other rescues in the area allowed for rehoming without a cat flap – which our tenancy doesn’t allow for. So, we began looking for cats who needed new homes due to their owners having financial issues. And with the current economic crisis, there are plenty of cats needing new homes.
We found hundreds of cats available online, needing new homes. Some were free, others were £3000. But we didn’t want a breeder offspring, we didn’t want a kitten, and we didn’t want to get a cat for free. You should always pay for your pets.
We came across an advert for a tortie cat, almost two years old, who’d had kittens by accident and needed to be rehomed for medical reasons. But, before I even contacted the owner, I noticed a red flag: the owner didn’t name the cat on the post.
While everyone else could prove what their cat was like to be around and had their vax details to hand, this owner didn’t have anything. But she looked cute. So, I took a chance.
Her previous owner brought her in a tiny pet carrier, too small for a British shorthair, and left her with us after only 3 minutes of being here. The owner didn’t even say goodbye or want us to get her out before they left.
I was worried at this point; I’d just given my money to someone who is an abuser. And unfortunately, Harley has only gone and proved it.
But I’m happy I did what I did because now Harley is thriving.
In comparison to when she arrived, Harley is now double her size in weight; her coat is glossy and growing back where there were patches; she’s no longer producing milk; and to make it even better, she’s no longer a timid cat. Instead, she walks around and adventures the house with confidence.
When she first arrived, she didn’t know how to play. She ate one of the worst cat foods on the market and was only 1.6kg in weight.
Now, she wakes me up in the early morning hours to play with her, eats food that is improving her health each day, and she’s a whopping 2.6kg – after just three weeks.
I don’t know what would’ve happened to Harley if I hadn’t bought her. She might’ve ended up with the charity that refused to let me have a cat due to being disabled – who is also known for selling cats to people who inevitably use them as dog bait… Or she could’ve ended up dumped. Or worse, dead due to starvation.
The motto is Adopt, Don’t Shop. And I stand by it. Don’t buy from breeders. But, if you see a cat online, who needs a new home, take a chance. They could end up with a breeder if you don’t.
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