‘Miracle cat’ befriends dog, gets himself adopted
Mamie Maxwell wasn’t planning on adding another pet to her family, but Shortie the cat had other ideas.
He landed in a Los Angeles shelter, so scared that he was labeled as unsocialized to people. Then after he came to Best Friends, he survived a freak medical emergency and after all that, it was the way he befriended a dog that secured his place in a new home.
Scared cat shows soft side
Like all pets at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in L.A., Shortie originally came from Los Angeles Animal Services. He was so shut down and shy at the shelter that it seemed like the best option for him would be Best Friends’ working cat program, which adopts out felines to businesses or private parties with enclosed facilities. It’s a great option for cats who are afraid of people, and as a bonus, the cats act as rodent deterrents in their new homes.
Once Shortie spent a little time in the shelter’s working cat area, his softer side started to emerge. He would come over to caregivers, rub up against their legs and beg to be petted. It turned out he had just been overwhelmed and terrified at the shelter. He really did like people, and that increased his options to be adopted by a family that was looking for a friendly kitty. So, he moved again, this time to the adoption area where more people could meet him and where it didn’t take long for him to gain favor with staff and volunteers alike.
“Shortie was a gentle soul who loved to be loved and give love in return,” said Michelle LaPalme, a lifesaving and care specialist at Best Friends. “He was always so sweet and endearing. He was always happy to see you and would start purring every time.”
A medical mystery
Everyone hoped Shortie would get adopted quickly and soon be settling into a new home, but there was another twist of fate ahead.
One day Michelle walked into the room where Shortie was staying and found him lying listlessly on the floor. When she picked him up, he was completely limp, which terrified her. She ran for a veterinarian, who took one look at Shortie, scooped him up and rushed him all the way through the center to the clinic.
The only hope for Shortie was a blood transfusion from another cat, which only had a 50% chance of success because there wasn’t enough time to determine if the blood types were a match. It would take a few hours to see if the transfusion worked.
“I was freaking out,” Michelle said. “I tried to get back to work, but my mind was on Shortie.”
When Michelle went to check on Shortie later in the day, her heart melted. He was almost back to his usual happy self, sitting up and observing what was going on.
“He perked up so much, I was so thankful,” she recalls. The Best Friends medical team ran a series of tests, none of which were conclusive. Shortie stayed in the clinic until vets were confident that he was out of danger and feeling good again.
A foster home for Shortie
What Shortie needed most was a home. He’s a sensitive soul and the shelter environment was stressful. So, the foster team worked on finding him somewhere to crash for a while with a volunteer. Short-term foster homes not only give pets a break from a shelter environment, they also provide the adoption team with informative notes on how the pet does in a home, which helps in the search for a great match.
Mamie, who was on the volunteer foster list, got the list of pets who’d benefit most from a foster home, and that’s when saw the cute black-and-white cat.
“I emailed the foster coordinator about Shortie and picked him up that same day,” she says.
On the first day at Mamie’s home, Shortie hid under the couch. Then he found the hall closet, which Mamie’s boyfriend, Deja, made more comfortable by adding a bed. Shortie would sneak out to eat, but then go straight back to the closet. After three days, he started exploring more, albeit very slowly.
“I’d sit on the floor in front of the closet and hold my hand out,” says Mamie. “He’d come over for pets and I’d scoot a couple inches away. He’d come closer, I’d scoot further. This went on for a week before he would come out to the living room by himself to check things out.”
When Shortie met Tanner
Then one day, Shortie spotted Tanner. Mamie was watching TV with Tanner on the couch when they got an unexpected visitor. Shortie jumped up and laid right next to Tanner.
“Tanner was a little nervous about it, but I reassured him and they both fell asleep,” Mamie said.
After that, Shortie started snuggling with Tanner daily. Shortie did everything in his power to charm Tanner, much to Mamie’s delight. “Anywhere Tanner laid, Shortie had to be next to him,” she recalls. “Then Shortie had to touch him, sleeping with one paw stretched out to Tanner. Finally, Shortie started licking and grooming Tanner.”
Eventually he transitioned to cuddling with Mamie and Deja, too.
When the time came to start promoting Shortie for adoption, Deja (who originally didn’t want the commitment of another pet), changed his tune. “He said no, Shortie’s staying with us,” says Mamie. “He just wiggled his way into both of our hearts.”
Tanner, for one, isn’t complaining. Mamie recently caught Tanner grooming Shortie. “They’re besties now,” she says.
Best Friends in Los Angeles works collaboratively with animal rescue groups, city shelters and passionate individuals, all dedicated to the mission of making Los Angeles a no-kill city. As part of this mission, Best Friends hosts adoption and fundraising events, manages two pet adoption centers, and leads the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative. Together, we will Save Them All.
Photos by Lori Fusaro and courtesy of Mamie Maxwell