Adopting Dora: Finding joy at Montreal’s SPCA

Dora is fitting in just fine at her new castle.


Dora is fitting in just fine at her new castle.

Dora is fitting in just fine at her new castle.

I didn’t want to get another cat after DiMaggio died. He was the one and only, the feline king who ran our home for more than 15 years with his quirky personality, preferring to hide and skulk through the house, hardly giving us the time of day until he was hungry.

I adopted him from the SPCA 16 years ago, when he was 4 months old. He was so sick he almost died, but he fought back to bring us many moments of peace and contentment. He was named after famed New York Yankees centre fielder Joe DiMaggio because he would fetch a ball or rolled up paper.

It’s not like we didn’t have another pet, Diego, the infamous pinscher chihuahua we adopted from an L.A. pound two years ago. But Diego is wintering in L.A. with daughter Amy and her partner, Todd, who is reluctant to give him up, at least for now.

The house seemed so empty and the silence of pawlessness was heavy on my heart. One dreary afternoon I asked Kris and Thelma, both busy at The Senior Times, to come with me to the SPCA to look for a kitten. I really don’t know what I was thinking. A kitten? A kitten can live for 20 years. But I reasoned that Diego, when he returned, would take more kindly to a kitten, perhaps even taking a fatherly role instead of the aggressive stance he took with poor DiMaggio.

I had given away every cat-like product in the house, including the litter box, all the food and toys, even the cat carrier. I brought Diego’s carrier and thought I’d just take a look.

The SPCA plays classical music in the cat and dog rooms, but the dogs howl and bark nonetheless, especially when you go in and give them the idea you might take them out of their cages. There were several dogs being taken out for walks by volunteers.

In the cat room was a litter of kittens. I reasoned that kittens would be gone before the end of the week, not like an older cat. I asked to see a 5-year-old male with beautiful markings.

I was asked to fill out paperwork that reminded me of an application for a mortgage. Yikes! The employee or volunteer’s attitude was stern and suspicious. Did I look like someone who wanted to perform experiments on animals after paying the $125 adoption fee? Everything except my place of employment was on that form.

Finally she brought the male cat to meet me in a small glass-enclosed room. Thelma and I observed him and tried to pick him up, but he wasn’t having any of it. I knew this wasn’t the cat for me.

I asked the employee if I could see another cat that I had observed in her cage when I first walked in, a 5-year-old female.

Her cage hadn’t done her justice. She had grey and black tones that didn’t look that great behind the bars. Of course, who among us looks good behind bars? She had very long hair and the biggest paws and whiskers I’d ever seen in a cat. I could see her in another picture frame, just stepping out of the forest.

The employee looked straight at me and said: “Are you serious about adopting?” Of course I’m serious, I told her, not in the surly tone I wanted to use. I had one cat for 20 years and another for 15 years, I told her. Doesn’t that qualify me as serious when it comes to owning cats?

But I have to bond with the cat, I said, wanting to add “before I commit to 15 years of looking after one.”

Well, she said, I can’t show you every cat here, and it’s getting close to rush hour. Rush hour? For whom? Not the cats, surely.

"You got a what-now?" Diego (top) is in for a big surprise when he comes home from wintering in L.A.

“You got a what-now?” Diego (top) is in for a big surprise when he comes home from wintering in L.A.

Finally they brought me my cat. She was affectionate and didn’t mind being picked up and stroked. She likes being petted. She likes being picked up. She likes being combed. She mews softly for food every time we enter the kitchen so we have to be careful she doesn’t get fat. She’s not a playful cat. But at our age, do we need a playful cat? She snubbed the box of toys Thelma gave her.

Her name is Dora to go, hopefully, with Diego.

Consider adopting an older cat! You can tell right away what they are like when you ask to spend time with them. They will fill your day and evening with snuggles. The soft purring of a cat is the most calming feeling in the world. Just think of the life you are saving and what joy that life will bring!

I’ll keep you posted on what happens when Diego returns.

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