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Rescuing PetSmart’s “Meanest” Cat

Rescuing PetSmart’s “Meanest” Cat

 

We at The Great Animal Rescue Chase love bringing you unusual and powerful rescue stories, and quite frankly, we never expected to deliver news like this.  But when Marsha Andrews of British Columbia visited her local PetSmart, she simply had to intervene on behalf of a terrified cat who’d spent months in the store.   Read her first hand account to understand what drove this well-informed animal advocate to take an action she normally stands firmly against.

By Marsha Andrews of British Columbia, Canada

Purchasing a cat from a pet store (which I generally don’t support) hardly comes across as a rescue story, but these were extenuating circumstances. And there’s no question in my mind that I rescued Willy.

I used to take my granddaughter in to PetSmart in Richmond, British Columbia.  She loved to look at all the tropical fish.  One day we went in, and there right in the middle of the entrance way, was a cage of Ragdoll kittens.  The lights and noise in the store felt like you were being shaken around in a tin can and kids and other people were all sticking fingers through the cage bars. I could see that one kitten was huddling in the corner looking very stressed.  I approached an employee, took him over to the cage, pointed out the kitten and my concerns.

“Oh, he’s just shy,” he told me. “We try to tell people not to poke their fingers in the cage but they never listen. ”

I knew the kitten was not shy.  It was showing strong signs of stress.  At this point the kittens were two months old.

Months Later…It Couldn’t Be!

A few months later I went back to PetSmart.  The cage of kittens was gone.  However, over in a small glass windowed ‘confinement space’ (for lack of a better word) there was just a single Ragdoll kitten, bigger now of course.

After talking with the staff, it was confirmed that this kitten was from the litter I had seen two months prior.  Apparently this one had a nasty disposition and was ‘mean.’ I knew that wasn’t the case and was sure this was the same kitten I’d originally seen so stressed out.  I took him home in one of those cardboard carriers with great difficulty and as soon as we were in the house he ran underneath my bed.  ‘Willy’ stayed there for about three weeks.  I left food, water and litterbox close by until he felt safe to come out.

He Wouldn’t Come Out from Under the Bed

Part of the agreement when ‘buying’ Willy was that I was to bring him back in 10 days for his booster shots, included in the cost of the cat.  I called to speak with the manager to explain my predicament.  What a conversation that was.  How did I know it was emotionally distraught? How could I know if he was stressed? And it was my responsibility to get it out from underneath a king size bed!  This was undoubtedly one of the ‘strangest’ animal conversations I’ve ever had.  We kept going around in circles until finally I asked her if she had any experience in animal welfare.

I was stunned when she replied that it wasn’t relevant to the situation.  I replied that it had everything to do with the situation!   Needless to say I was shocked .  I tried getting in touch with Head Office in Toronto but no luck with the company at all.

He Was Afraid to Stand Up Straight

However, there was Willy to rehabilitate.  He gradually ventured his way out from under the bed and it took quite awhile before he actually stood straight.  I put a bed for him by my computer so he could sit with me. I just spoke with him gently, ‘talking him up’ — saying that the absolute best was saved till last, and we were so lucky to have him.  Every once in a while I would reach up to give him a pat, and out of the blue he would sink his teeth and claws into my hand.  I knew this reaction had been fueled by the constant stress of being poked at while he was in the cage.  I would just relax my hand, and speak softly, telling him he didn’t have to be petted if he didn’t want.  He would slowly release his clutch, and I respected his need to not be touched.

My husband initially referred to him as the ‘cat from hell,’ but over time Willy became the best cat he’d ever known.  One day, I reached to stroke Willy and he went for the ‘teeth and claw’ routine again.  It had been some time now so I reached up, and gave him a little cuff on the side of the head.  I had a ‘talk’ with him and said that it wasn’t necessary anymore.  After that he became the most loving, playful and smart cat.  What a character.  We loved him and gave him a great life, or rather he gave us a great life!  He never tried to bite or claw anyone again.

I  have  experience in taking in abandoned cats who each in their own way needed some rehab.  Just love them and give them some time.  I think that LOVE wins at least a good part of the time.  See More Beautiful Photos of Willie.

What Would You Do?

What would you have done if you were in Marsha’s shoes? Would you walk away on principle or would you have taken Willy home too?  Please share your thoughts below.  And if you have a rescue story and photos you’d like to share, please join in our international tournament here. It’s open to everyone and free for all.  Best of all, you never know who you might inspire!

 

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320 comments

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6:08AM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

Thanks for being so patient and giving the animal a new lease on life !

7:32PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Whether its a rescue shelter or an adoption fair or, as in this case, a single animal obviously no one wants, rescuing them is a blessing and I'm glad it worked out. Personally, if I had a cat that was biting constantly, I'm not sure I would have been able to be as patient as she was.

2:34PM PDT on Aug 27, 2013

I would love to say I would have done the same, but with my allergy to cats, I couldn't. But that doesn't mean I don't care and believe me, Marsha you and your husband are animal angels in disguise.

I would hope that the people handling the animals, even if only for grooming, in PetSmart have been given the proper training on how to handle the animals. This is for the safety of both of them.

3:42PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

How many years ago did this happen? I've been working as a rep for a food company, and spend quite a bit of time in various PetSmarts and during that these once a week visits PetSmart has not been selling cats or kittens. They do adopt out animals in partnership with VOKRA or other animal rescue organizations, but it is the rescue organization that gives final approval to the adoption not the store. The store in Richmond has only been opened this year for a few months, and so would definitely be involved in adoption only, not the selling of cats. Petcetra was in Richmond before PetsMart, but they also did adoption only with the SPCA as a partner. While I'm sure the story happened, I'm wondering if an over zealous editor put the wrong store name in the article.

3:42PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

How many years ago did this happen? I've been working as a rep for a food company, and spend quite a bit of time in various PetSmarts and during that these once a week visits PetSmart has not been selling cats or kittens. They do adopt out animals in partnership with VOKRA or other animal rescue organizations, but it is the rescue organization that gives final approval to the adoption not the store. The store in Richmond has only been opened this year for a few months, and so would definitely be involved in adoption only, not the selling of cats. Petcetra was in Richmond before PetsMart, but they also did adoption only with the SPCA as a partner. While I'm sure the story happened, I'm wondering if an over zealous editor put the wrong store name in the article.

10:46PM PST on Nov 6, 2011

Cee Simm

Since you seem to be so well informed and know 'John' personally, it's taking a considerable length of time for you to post a response to the verification questions I asked. You criticize me for not getting my facts straight. What about you?

2:56PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Cee S. My apologies, the previous two comments from me were directed to you, not Cassy S.

2:53PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Cassy S. I keep checking back in now and then to see if you've been able to check out the questions I presented to you in regards to the 'CEO John' that you had dinner with. If you're so intent in making me wrong at least check these out.

9:46PM PDT on Oct 28, 2011

Cassy S. If you have referenced some of my earlier comments, you'll note that I said I was given the contact name of a 'John' from PetSmart's head office in Ontario. I called numerous times, never got a return call or can remember his last name. Although both my husband and I believe the experience we had was with PetSmart, for argument's sake let's entertain the notion that I got the two pet stores mixed up. Was the John that you had dinner with CEO of Petcetera? Ask 'your John' (a name coincidence?) if his company ever sold cats in Richmond. Did he ever live in Burlington, Ontario?.....When did he become CEO of Petcetera? The dimwit manager of the Richmond location at the time I purchased Willy was a woman.
If you reference many, many of the comments, you'll note that PetSmart, Petcetera, and other pet stores have been noted with bad stories/experiences behind them - not an across the board condemnation of one pet store in particular. The general consensus seems to be to not buy pets (unless they are rescue related) from any pet store.
I do look forward to hear what your 'John' has to say.

12:46PM PDT on Oct 28, 2011

I'd take a rescued animal over a breeder's animals any day...unless as in this case, I was rescuing it from a horrible situation!

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