Hi, My Name is Shiloh.
This article was written by Pet Community Center Board of Directors member and Marketing Committee volunteer, Diana Springfield.
"Hi, my name is Shiloh. I am a 1.5 - 1.8 yr old boy, very sweet and very affectionate once I get comfortable. I love to cuddle and am very quiet as I am low maintenance. At first, I can be very shy, but once you give me the opportunity to become comfortable I am the best cat ever! I have never gotten mean or aggressive with my mommy as I behave well. I am very low-stress. My mommy can no longer afford to take care of me. Could you please adopt me? I would love to be with a family that has a little more room in their hearts to love one more soul. - XOXO Shiloh"
In 2020 on my birthday, my next-door neighbor called and said someone dropped something off at her house that must have been meant for me. I met her on the porch where I saw a backpack with a young cat in it. Attached to the pack was a sheet of paper ripped from a notebook with the above letter introducing “the best cat ever,” asking that they adopt him. There was also a box with food, dishes, a litter box, litter, some toys, and a bed.
She thought Shiloh was meant to be dropped at my house since I had kitties and she had a dog that was emphatically anti-cat. We don’t know whether Shiloh’s mom picked the nicest house on the street, or in some way knew I had volunteered for a cat rescue and went one door too far to the left. Either way, he could not stay with my neighbors, so he came home with me, and frankly, put a damper on my birthday. I couldn’t keep him because the inn was already full. It was the middle of autumn, so Metro Animal Care and Control and the rescues’ foster homes would be full of kittens. I really didn’t want to foster a kitty because I needed to keep him separated from mine, which left one area of my house available - the one designated as a cat-free zone for guests who were allergic. Happy birthday to me.
I rearranged the spare room which luckily didn’t have much in it and scattered some cardboard boxes around to make sure there were some comfortable places he could hide. (Most cat owners, I think, have at least one cardboard box somewhere. They serve many different purposes: an enclosed place to feel safe; a new cave to explore; a decent place to sleep in, since the recently-purchased bed is so obviously trash; a hideout if housemates or owners are getting annoying; a challenge to see “if it fits, I sit”; a place to ponder what exactly is in a Churu, how many flavors there are, which is my favorite, and when am I getting another one. Etc.)
I filled the bowls, put out the litter box, toys, and bed, and, talking to him gently, brought the pack in, unzipped it, then left and closed the door behind me. He needed some time to get used to all the new smells and hopefully do a little exploring to find a place that felt safe. I needed time to figure out what I was going to do.
Several hours later I went back in, and he was between a box and the wall. He didn’t seem to be very fearful, just cautious, so I said hi and sat on the floor in the middle of the room, away from his hiding place. Periodically I’d talk to him and throw some toys around or put out a catnip cigar. Basically, I just hung out. He didn’t come out, so I left and came back later. He was in the same place but he’d eaten some food and played with some toys so I sat closer this time and spent less time texting and more time talking to him. Finally, he crept out from behind the box and watched me for a while; slowly he came close to me to check out the treats I had put out. He ate them and didn’t run. He sat down next to me with a very worried expression, but he let me pet him. As he got more comfortable, he walked around the room, batted at a few balls, took a few puffs of the cigar, then came back to my lap.
Shiloh’s mommy was right: he was very sweet and warmed up to strangers quickly. He’d always go back to his safe space when he heard the door open but would come out after a minute or so. He had all the traits adopters look for. Statistically, the only way he could be better was to be a kitten. That, and at a rescue where a lot of people could see him. I decided to think about that the next day and just enjoy getting to know my inadvertent birthday “gift.”
Generally, everyone I know has all the pets they want and rarely knows of anyone looking, as they are asked this all the time. But against all odds, the first friend I gave the “Hey, if you know anyone interested in adopting a cat…” call said yes, she did! Her ex was having kitty withdrawal after she and her cat moved out and he had asked her to be on the lookout. I called him, and he came two days later to meet Shiloh. Three days after that, he took his new little buddy to his forever home. After he was acclimated, they visited Pet Community Center to get Shiloh neutered, up-to-date on vaccines, tested, and stock up on pest preventatives.
Ultimately? My best birthday gift was the one I was able to give away.
Shiloh’s story had a happy ending, but it easily could have been different. His mom could have chosen other options to try to re-home him that weren’t as fortuitous, or as quick. But these days, there are more resources that might help give an even happier ending for a pet like Shiloh - staying at home.
Pet Community Center is dedicated to keeping pets with their owners. In August 2022, PCC launched the Food Security program to provide pet owners in need with the food they need to keep their pets happy and healthy. The program has delivered over 114,000 meals and partners with Metro Animal Care and Control, Martha O’Bryan Center, St. Luke's Community House, and Second Harvest Food Bank to supplement their food banks. There are many families who, with a little help to tide them over, won’t have to make the heartbreaking choice Shiloh’s mom did.