A Gift from Homeward Pet

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with cats.  Not much has changed, though a kitten obsessed toddler is a whole lot cuter than a cat-obsessed 20-something. This stemmed from the fact that one of the first lessons I was taught in life was compassion towards animals. I was raised in a home with multiple cats and even my first words were centered around our feline pets. I quickly adopted one of these cats as “mine.” As living creatures often do – this cat eventually passed away, leaving a devastated 9 year old in his wake.

To curb my child-like heartbreak, my parents took me to a local no-kill animal shelter a few months later to pick out a new kitten. I remember asking my mom why we were going to this particular shelter – there were huge shelters not much farther away! Never one to miss a teaching opportunity, my mom taught me that one should always adopt pets rather than purchasing them from breeders. I also learned that the type of organization from which we adopted our pets mattered – placing value on no-kill, compassionate shelters rather than those that euthanized animals who were deemed “unadoptable.” So off to the nearest no-kill shelter we went – Hooterville Pet SafeHaus (who would change their name to Homeward Pet Adoption Center a few years later).

Upon walking in the door, we were immediately confronted by a persistent meowing coming from a small cage located in the center of the room. Inhabiting the cage was a tiny black fluffball of a kitten who was insistent upon getting the attention of every human in the room. I knew instantly this was the kitten I wanted. In true 10 year-old fashion, I named him Simba after my favorite Disney movie and because he had a scruff of fur around his head that reminded me of a lion’s mane.

Simba was the most rambunctious little kitten you could imagine and would cuddle into the crook of your neck as you slept – purring wildly as he drooled with happiness at finding a loving home. The next few years of life were especially challenging for me – as I was diagnosed with cancer about a year after my family adopted him (more on this to come). Simba proved to be one of the truest friends I had during my treatment and recovery process, never wavering in his love and loyalty to his human savior.

As I grew older, my time spent at home was less and less and my time with Simba was fewer and more far between. Despite this, he was just as excited to see me each time I walked in the front door. Even today, 18 years later, when my precious little kitten is more of a frail senior cat, he still warmly greets me whenever I visit my parents’ home. If that doesn’t sound like family, then what does?

A treasured family member. This is the gift Homeward Pet Adoption Center gave to me and my family. I will forever support them for this and ask that you would consider doing the same.

Happy Holidays!

Charlee Van Wagenen