It was mid-February when we first laid eyes on the two-year-old gray cat. He was cowering in a cage in the observation room at East Valley Shelter, having arrived there in a trap several days earlier, too fractious even for a basic medical exam. Yet something in his eyes said he’d known people once upon a time. It also said an awful lot had happened to him since then.
A week went by. Then two. Gray boy was still cowering but was also starting to permit a little kindness. But now the shelter was filling up, which meant gray boy might run out of time. So we brought him to Perry’s Place.
After several days in medical, he moved into one of our cat rooms, where he had the chance to mingle with other shy fellows as well as some friendlier cats. And where he began to learn his new name – Arby…for RB…for Russian Blue…because of the blue-gray coat and emerald eyes. Still hesitant to trust, he spent most of his time hunkered down in a corner or a cubby, but his eyes didn’t miss a thing.
In April, Arby went to a pet store adoption event for the first time and was a surprise hit. Sure, he was shy. Sure, he didn’t DO much except look at you. But oh, those eyes.
One Saturday in May, a wonderful family spotted Arby at the Santa Clarita Petsmart. One by one, they met and loved him…even Dad Aaron, whose allergies miraculously stayed at bay. By the following Saturday, June had arrived and so had Arby – at his new home in Sylmar.
Now, you might think that a shy guy with a rough past would not be the ideal choice for a family with four children under the age of 12. But you would be wrong. Sure, he took a few days to adjust. Indeed, when Mom Trish wrote that Arby was “still pretty nervous despite all our efforts to make him feel comfortable and loved,” we encouraged patience.
And it didn’t take long.
Within days, Arby was hanging out in the kids’ rooms and had become part of the family’s nightly Scripture reading and prayer time. “He’s making huge progress,” Trish reported with pleasure. “He is eating and drinking with us right beside him…he let me hold him and pet him for a long time, too!”
But not even Arby could know how meaningful this was to Trish and Aaron and their brood. You see, last summer youngest son Austin was hospitalized following a bike accident and nearly died from the rare infection that followed. When a doctor asked the very sick 5-year-old what his favorite animal was, Austin replied, “a black cat with green eyes.” And one day a stuffed kitty (with green eyes) appeared in Austin’s hospital bed when he was down the hall for physical therapy.
“Night” accompanied Austin home a few weeks later and took his place as the family cat since Aaron’s allergies had always precluded the real thing. And then came Arby. Perhaps it was hypoallergenic characteristics of the Russian Blue, perhaps it was the power of perception, perhaps prayer played a role. But at the end of the day, it was pretty clear this cat and this family were meant to be together.
“It was so special” says Trish, “that a year after such a difficult trial, we got Arby – an almost-black cat with green eyes.”