In the four and a half years since we began placing ‘unadoptable’ cats, we have easily driven 7000 miles across Massachusetts. We have delivered cats to barns in Abingdon, Ashby, Bedford, Boxford, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Fairhaven, Groton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lincoln, Littleton, Mattapoisett, Mendon, Millet, Norfolk, North Easton, Orleans, Pepperell, Plympton, Sturbridge, Sudbury, Townsend, Upton, Wayland, West Bridgewater and West Newbury. (We have also delivered cats to barns in southern New Hampshire.)
Although we generally assist other rescue groups in placing their ‘unadoptables,’ in rare circumstances, someone – usually a perfect stranger- will send a plea for help in our direction, and if we are lucky enough to identify a willing barn (they are really hard to find), we will try to re-home their cat. This is the category to which Buddy –the cat referenced in the title of this article belongs. What is unusual about Buddy is that it took about 10 people – more or less – to find him a home. That’s a Shelter Me Inc record. Buddy was Shelter Me Barn cat #132.
Photo of Buddy (while he was living off two families in Bridgewater)
Buddy’s story was a little more complicated than most (although that doesn’t really explain the number of people who came to his rescue, which remains something of a mystery). As it happens, two families were taking care of Buddy in Bridgewater. The families live on a cul de sac and they loved sharing Buddy’s care, but his hunting prowess (he killed mice and other rodents) disturbed the neighbors. So, one of the families brought him into their house; they were worried that the other neighbors might harm him. But Buddy wasn’t happy inside and the families didn’t know what to do with him.
Eventually, they found Shelter Me on the Internet and asked us for help. We didn’t have any barns available when we first heard from them. Barns have been few and far between for us this year. But we know a really nice woman who owns a barn in Bridgewater - Julie Lovely of Wild Hearts Therapeutic Riding Barn - and we decided to send her a note and ask if she knew any barns who might offer Buddy a home.(We placed Shelter Me barn cat #65 with Julie in 2009, a terrific grey cat named Elmo.)
Julie sent out a plea and got a response back from one of her colleagues at a therapeutic riding barn in Bridgewater – The Bridge Center. They wanted Buddy. What a great find!
We told the families that we had a home for Buddy at the Bridge Center and they were thrilled. We made arrangements to meet them there one evening - we brought more than our usual range of supplies. We were a little concerned about an active, basically friendly cat like Buddy being restrained in a cage. So, we brought two cages…to give him extra room. (You can see the set-up in the photograph below.) We put in free feeding water and dry food dispensers. And we placed the cage in the entrance so he could watch the horses and kids in the riding program coming and going.
The Riding Center Coordinator, Judy Johnson, gave us a tour of the place – she introduced us to the horses, to Labrador puppies and to the resident potbelly pig.
Buddy’s family members meet the farm’s potbelly pig.
The next day, Judy sent us this note
– Just wanted to thank you again for all the connecting you did for Buddy and for us. He is incredibly relaxed today, talking a little bit and rubbing up against the cage when Kevin or I go over. He has tolerated lots of campers saying hello to him and he is starting to get curious about the horses walking by. He has been lounging out in the feed/litterbox area all morning. Not hiding at all. So, it looks like Buddy is adjusting well so far! Will give you an update next week.
. ~ Judy Johnson Riding Center Coordinator, The Bridge Center Riding Center Coordinator
Two weeks later we got this great update
– Buddy is doing wonderful – he is a talking A LOT and is really showing signs of being okay with us. He lets me pet him now when I go to change food or litter. I think he is ready to be released but wanted to ask your thoughts before doing so. Today is his two-week mark.
~ Judy Johnson
After we read this wonderful note we advised Judy that it was probably not necessary to keep Buddy in the acclimation cage for the full 5 weeks (which is what we usually recommend). Considering he is such a friendly cat and smart sort of guy, we thought two weeks might be okay.
A couple weeks later, Judy sent us an another update
- Great news to share about Buddy – we did let him out last week and he is just loving life. He has fully explored all parts of the barn and discovered which offices have comfortable chairs to sit on. He has walked into the arena during lessons and meowed his approval. He has even left us presents already (one squirrel and a mole). The cage is open for him to eat and drink out of at all – but he prefers the horse troughs for water. We have started to try to transition him to find his food and learn about the heated laundry room and the grain room (where it is safer to place food out of reach of natural scavengers like raccoons). He is getting there…We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect cat. He is fitting in wonderfully. Thanks again.
~ Judy Johnson
Buddy made out great. It just took a small village to save him. Who knows why? But we are glad we had a hand in his saving. Judy Johnson, the riding coordinator and Buddy’s savior at The Bridge Center.
admin on September 30th 2012