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!