Unforgettable 18-year-old cat goes home

Woodrow the cat with Jane Brodziak in the background
A volunteer met Woodrow at Best Friends six years ago, never forgot him and now he’s living his golden years at home with her.
By Sarah Thornton

It’s no exaggeration to say Woodrow was a staple of Cat World at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Laid-back and easygoing, he was always up for just about anything. One of the official Cat World greeters and a sleepover superstar, he rarely missed a chance to attend an event in one of his fancy bow ties. He popped up in stories, strutted his stuff at photoshoots, and he was certainly no stranger to social media.

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Even with all his popularity and his ever-growing group of friends, though, Woodrow was still having trouble getting adopted. He had been diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a condition that weakens his immune system and makes him more susceptible to secondary infections and dental disease, particularly at his age. Long ago, in order for him to eat comfortably, it was necessary to remove his teeth. He was on a special diet and medications for allergies, and he received regular subcutaneous fluids to keep him feeling his best. Understandably, for many potential adopters, it all seemed a little overwhelming.

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When Woodrow celebrated his 18th birthday with plenty of tasty treats for all his friends (both human and cat), he must have made a very big wish because it wasn’t long before an old friend decided it was time to take him home and make him family.

A first, fateful meeting

When Jane Brodziak volunteered at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for the first time in 2017, Woodrow had just arrived from a nearby shelter. And since he was living in the lobby of a building in Cat World, he was right there to greet Jane when she walked in. “Because I lived in Colorado, I’d just come for a couple days,” Jane recalls. “And he was the first cat I met here.”

Jane took Woodrow out for a stroller ride, winding through the trees behind the building along a quiet little footpath. His nose was in the air the whole time, taking in all the different smells of nature. Even then he was pretty cool cat, she says. But she already had a full house with two cats and a dog. And with everything else happening in her life, it just wasn’t the right time to bring another family member into the fold. So, when her volunteer trip ended, she bid Woodrow a fond farewell and headed back home. She never forgot about him, though.

Every animal deserves a home

Over the next couple of years, Woodrow’s popularity and presence grew. Caregiver Bee McCarroll, who started working at Best Friends not long after he arrived, was especially fond of the senior tabby, and she quickly became his biggest fan and advocate.

Bee sent Woodrow off on more walks with more new volunteers, and she packed him up for sleepovers, which always earned him glowing reviews for A+ snuggles and purrs. Fliers, distributed around Cat World, showed the image of Woodrow’s winking face with the caption, “He wants YOU to adopt him.” Everyone knew Woodrow.

When Jane returned a few more times to volunteer, she always said hi to Woodrow before heading home again — that is, until her home became Kanab, Utah, just a few minutes south of the Sanctuary.

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While she still had two cats (Boxer and Rustler) and a dog (Bella), she volunteered regularly at the Sanctuary and spent more time with the myriad of cats, including Woodrow. When Boxer’s health failed, she had to say goodbye to her nearly 20-year-old kitty.

“We always had two cats,” she says. “I just always thought, you need more than one cat in the house.” (Solid logic, really.)

She found herself thinking maybe it was time for Woodrow to come home, but a friend suggested that Woodrow might not want to leave Cat World because he gets so much attention there. But when someone else suggested that “Every animal deserves a home,” Jane was convinced.

News that Jane adopted Woodrow spread quickly. He’d just had his 18th birthday party, and his human friends were abuzz with excitement all over again. Bee offered to share her collection of Woodrow pictures (and pet-sit whenever needed). When Jane stopped in at the Best Friends Animal Clinic, a vet tech who’d heard about the adoption wrapped her up in a hug.

The fanfare surrounding Woodrow’s departure was more than Jane expected. But  Woodrow, more than ready to settle into the quiet life in his new home, paid little mind.

Settling into the quiet life

From day one, Woodrow was right at home. His new cat brother, Rustler, wasn’t sure what to think at first. But Bella the dog was happy to meet him and Woodrow took the introductions with ease. Jane gave him his own room with a baby gate to keep Bella and Rustler out. But Woodrow really just wanted to be out with the family.

“He’s been good,” Jane says. “And I think he’s going to live a long time. People say, ‘Oh a senior animal. Why do you want to be emotionally invested in a senior pet?’ But … I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

Woodrow spends his days watching birds out the window or scouring the kitchen for treats, and he’s completely taken over Bella’s bed when she’s not using it. He’s got a constant, rumbling purr going, and when he sits on the table with Jane next to him, his front paws are completely occupied making biscuits.

Jane also reports that he’s become a pretty quiet cat, something that amuses Bee. “We joked that in a past life he was a fire alarm,” Bee says. “In the morning when I came in, he’d start yowling because he knew I’d give in and give him baby food, and because he wanted to be out in the mix … He just wanted to be with people.”

Well, now Woodrow’s with his very own person all the time. No one clocks out and goes home. He can stretch out on Jane’s bed during the day and hang out with his new family well into the evening hours. And that’s all he ever really wanted.

Honestly, it might have been a birthday wish come true for both of them. “His birthday was celebrated August 2,” Jane says. “My birthday is August 1. It was meant to be.”

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.

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