Lovers of a Feather
adoption clinic brings animal fanciers together in an unlikely
If I’m reading and come across a reference to a cat, one
image will fix itself in my mind. Until the writer describes
otherwise, my default feline is a tabby, of the orange or
red variety. (No, I couldn’t tell you the difference between
orange and red—they both look the same to me.)
This isn’t because I’ve ever had one as a “pet.” The first
cat I had any contact with, however, at age 5, was an ancient
neighborhood tabby named Charlie, who had one cataract-covered
blue eye and one clear green eye. My family fed him in the
winter, but he was not friendly. Charlie recognized his name
but didn’t seem impressed that we knew it. He was scary
and snarly. I admired him enormously. He probably met an unhappy
Then there was TV, where 9 Lives cat food’s spokescat, a shelter-
rescued red tabby famously named Morris, was an icon. Morris
wouldn’t eat anything but 9 Lives, and complained about his
diet in an obnoxious, fey tone that was as impressive in its
own way as Charlie’s snarl.
So, surveying the 19 cages of cats at the Whiskers adoption
clinic at DeNooyer Chevrolet (on Wolf Road) on a cold Saturday
afternoon (April 1), my attention goes directly to Morris
look-alike Adam. He perks up when I walk over to him, and
lets me pat him on the head. The card on the cage notes that
he’s already been adopted (presumably to be picked up later).
cat here has a great story,” explains Mark, a Whiskers volunteer
who regularly drives to the Capital Region shelter from his
home in the Berkshires.
Adam, the volunteer explains, is FIV positive. Without going
into the specificities of the various feline diseases, it
doesn’t affect Adam’s suitability as a companion animal.
Adam’s story is simple: He was part of a Colonie colony of
cats that had been spayed/neutered and released under a regular
program. The only reason Adam ended up in the shelter was
an Achilles injury; if he hadn’t been injured, he wouldn’t
have been adopted.
miss her,” Mark says, turning his attention to a nearby cage
where longhaired Anna Lisa is lounging. Anna Lisa has also
been adopted, Mark says, adding that “at most shelters, she’d
have been euthanized.”
Why? Age. Anna Lisa is almost 10 years old. Older cats aren’t
as adoptable, and while she was safe in the senior room at
Whiskers, a no-kill shelter, at many places she wouldn’t have
lasted very long.
It’s funny to see this oasis of cats, volunteers, prospective
cat owners and media in the middle of the car dealership.
Joel DeNooyer, the dealership president, must be a cat person.
He’s certainly a Whiskers supporter. (“The organization should
be commended for its contemporary approach to providing a
safe and loving environment to stray animals,” he is quoted
in a press release.) His employees seem good-natured about
the disruption to their routine.
Wait a minute—media?
Yup. In addition to this reporter, someone else can be spotted
scribbling down notes, and a cameraman from WTEN-TV (aka ABC-10,
home of pet-friendly meteorologist Steve Caporizzo) has just
arrived. A DeNooyer receptionist starts across the showroom
floor, realizes the camera’s on, and ducks out of frame in
the nick of time. Another employee asks if I need help—I show
off my official reporter’s notebook, and she smiles and walks
do I tell if it’s a boy or a girl?” a little girl asks.
same way you tell with human beings—different equipment,”
a volunteer helpfully replies.
I really want this one,” the same girl says a few minutes
It’s not likely she’s going to get what she wants, however,
as mom isn’t exactly flashing a “yes” expression.
I walk over and reintroduce myself to Mary Gardy, a Whiskers
volunteer I met on another story two years ago. She’s happy
that a number of cats have been placed today. She’s even happier—and
surprised—that they don’t have as many kittens this year.
year,” she remembers, “we had 15 pregnant cats.”
She wonders if the spay-and-neuter efforts of Whiskers and
other shelters, like the Mohawk & Hudson River Humane
Society, are starting to pay off. It was a warm winter, and
one would expect more breeding-age cats to have survived than
in a more typical season.
is having a clinic in Latham today, and they don’t have many
kittens either,” Gardy says.
Not everybody is going to a new home. Brothers Flash and Gimlet,
identical grey cats with white paws, need to be adopted together.
Caroline, an 8-week-old black kitten who was found in a parking
lot the night before Thanksgiving, will be living for a little
while longer with Kathy, her foster companion. And there’s
Trixie, a grey tabby nervously scrunched down in her litter
box, and Neptune, a special-needs black-and-white longhair,
and . . .
Some more people have wandered in. A kid is looking at Adam,
and Adam seems to like the attention. His father is explaining
that he looks like Morris the cat.
used to be on TV commercials.”