Blue: A Second Chance Story
Guest Post by Meg Brunner, Secretary, Purrfect Pals Board of Directors
As a member of the Board of Directors at Purrfect Pals for the last 6 years, I’ve heard my fair share of great “second chances” stories. It wasn’t until last year, though, that I finally got one of my own.
That story actually begins about three years ago with a foster kitten named BJ. BJ was born at our house — we were fostering her mom through Purrfect Pals — and when she was about 8 weeks old, we learned she had a serious heart condition. With such an uncertain future, we found we just couldn’t let her go, so we adopted her ourselves.
In the time BJ was in our lives, she filled every single day with joy. This remarkable kitten taught us so much about joy, in fact. And not just us, but also our 4-year-old cat Otis, who adored BJ and was inseparable from her.
When we lost her, a year ago last October, at just 20 months old and very suddenly, all that joy just disappeared. It was sucked out of us in an instant. This was compounded dramatically by the fact we lost our 16-year-old niece just two months later. For the next several months, all of us, including Otis, really struggled. Our grief was overwhelming.
One day last March, I was up at Purrfect Pals and Connie Gabelein, our Director of Community Engagement, asked me how Otis was doing. I told her he was still having a really hard time without a buddy, and she said, “You know what? I’ve got a cat I want you to meet. He bit one of our staff members very severely, so he’s had to be isolated from visitors and volunteers, which is making him even more aggressive. I think you’ll like him!”
My immediate reaction to this? “Gee, thanks, that sounds . . . terrible?” But I followed Connie to Blue’s room anyway. When I walked in, he came bounding right up to me, not to attack, but to tell me a story — Blue’s a big talker. I picked up a toy and he went absolutely bonkers with happiness.
And so did I.
And something passed between us right then. A little spark. A flash of light.
Connie asked if we’d be interested in fostering Blue, but to be honest, I was still hesitant — did I really want to take on a cat with a serious behavioral problem when we were already having such a hard time? I decided to take a little while with the decision, but quickly found I couldn’t stop thinking about this lonely boy, fighting his way through his hard time the only way he knew how — with his teeth and his claws. And so I agreed to give it a try.
I went up to the shelter the next weekend to pick him up, and within minutes of my arrival, I could tell this was no ordinary cat. Five different staff and volunteers, hearing I was there to foster Blue, came to talk to me about him, eager to tell me everything they knew — every act of aggression they’d seen and what they thought might have triggered it, his favorite kind of toys, how sweet he was and how much he seemed to love people and other cats, even when he was lashing out at them. They wanted Blue to succeed SO BADLY. And that’s when I knew I had a very special boy on my hands.
Blue got to our house, took about 24 hours to adjust, and that was it. Outside of a few anxious hisses and swats at my husband that first day, he has never shown another trace of aggressive behavior. In fact, he’s the opposite of aggressive — he’s the snuggliest, sweetest, most loving and outgoing cat I have ever met in my life.
And people, I have met a lot of cats.
It took Otis a week or two to warm up to Blue, but the first time I caught them racing through the house happily playing their version of tag, this enormous weight of grief all tangled up with worry just came rocketing off my shoulders. Otis was playing. Otis was happy. We were all happy.
We adopted Blue on April 21, 2018, and in just the short time he’s been with our family, he has brought joy back into our lives. He’s changed all of us so much, and we’re grateful for him every day.
Now, the part of this story I want to really drive home is this: at any other shelter besides Purrfect Pals, Blue likely would have been euthanized after that severe bite. He would have been considered dangerous and unadoptable and euthanized for that, or he would’ve been euthanized for quality of life issues after he had to be isolated and the loneliness made his anxiety and aggression worse. He would’ve been deemed beyond help.
But we don’t believe in “beyond help” at Purrfect Pals. The staff at Purrfect Pals fought hard for Blue, just like they do for every cat who comes through our doors. They saw something in him. They worked tirelessly to understand and try to help him. They saw that his behavior was coming out of stress and fear and loneliness, and they believed he could overcome it. They knew that with the right family, he would thrive. And he is thriving.
Anywhere other than Purrfect Pals, and the world would have lost this great big bright light of a boy. We would have lost him. Instead, he’s curled up at the top of a cat tree in my living room right now, his buddy Otis at the top of the one next to him, both of them poking their heads through the curtains, watching the neighborhood go by. And when I get home from work, they’ll both be waiting for me on the bookshelf by the front door, sparring over who gets to headbutt me first. And Otis will win, because Otis always wins, and Blue will almost fall off the shelves trying to get to me for his turn, he’ll be so excited to be a part of it all.
And this will make me laugh.
And there will be so much joy.
Change a cat’s life, change your life.
And that’s the story of Blue’s second chance. And of ours too.
Would you like to help Purrfect Pals provide second chances for special cats like Blue? Please visit https://purrfectpals.networkforgood.com to donate today!