I Thought I’d Buy a Designer Cat — But I Adopted a Shelter Cat


I fell in love with her unexpectedly. From the moment I laid eyes on my Ghost Cat I knew she would be my best friend, but she definitely isn’t the cat I’d pined over and planned to adopt. I thought I’d be getting an designer kitten I could tame. Instead, I got a sweet and scrappy little rescue cat who rules the household.

I love Ghost Cat with all my heart, but she is definitely not the animal we had in mind when we decided to adopt a cat. Here’s five ways that she deviated from our original pet plan.

1. She is not hairless

This was my husband’s first condition when I finally talked him into considering a cat. He wanted a non-shedding cat, and a Canadian Sphynx seemed like the one for us. I would spend hours online, looking at pictures of Sphynx cats and researching the particular needs of these hairless beauties. My French Canadian husband even had a name picked out — he wanted to call the cat Pr├®puce.

In the end, I guess having a strange name is the only thing Ghost Cat really has in common with this idealized imaginary cat who preceded her. She certainly sheds a lot more than we’d envisioned, but it’s just not as big of a deal-breaker as we’d thought. I can’t imagine petting my cat and not feeling her silky coat.

2. She did not come from a breeder

I knew in my heart that there were plenty of cats in the world that needed to be rescued, but because we had set our sights on a Sphynx, I did think we’d be getting our cat from a breeder. The closer we came to moving into an animal-friendly apartment, the more time I spent online, looking at breeder websites and Facebook pages, pricing out kittens and picturing myself holding a naked little kitten for the first time.

And yet, the more I thought about it, spending two grand on a kitten when we were trying to save up to buy a house did seem a little ridiculous. I didn’t want to go back on my husband’s one key demand, though — especially when he was compromising so much by just considering a cat.

I kept looking for a hairless bargain. One night I told my husband about an older, former breeding cat who was discounted down to one thousand dollars. My husband turned to me and said, "That’s insane. Let’s just get a cat from the SPCA. I don’t really mind the hair that much." With those magic words, I dove straight into the online pages of my local SPCA and other cat rescues with kittens on the brain.

3. She was not a kitten

We went to the SPCA just a few days after moving into a loft that we’d only taken on the condition that we could have a cat. I made an appointment to check out three kittens, requesting them by name after spending a ton of time looking at profiles online and snuggling with some adoptable kittens the SPCA brought into my work.

Despite my kitten lust, something strange happened when we walked into the shelter — it was (of course) an older cat who stole my heart. After looking at a couple kittens but feeling no connection, I turned around and saw the most beautiful cat I had ever seen. I looked into her blue eyes and grey face and instantly knew she was my Ghost Cat. The sign on her kennel said she was a quiet cat who didn’t make much noise. That part sounded good to my husband. I opened up her cat condo and she gave me the greatest cat hug I’d ever had and I knew she was mine. I started crying and my husband went off to find a shelter worker and make it official.

4. Another surprise — she is loud

Ghost Cat must’ve been pulling a fast one on staff at the shelter. Whoever wrote that sign simply could not have been referring to the cat I know. Within hours of coming home to the loft she was making the kinds of noises usually only heard in the jungle. The open design meant we could not escape from her howling as we had no walls or doors, and all the exposed concrete in the space just served to echo her constant wails.

The first few days were rough. I was falling in love with this little cat, but my husband was not so quick to forgive her for keeping him up all night. Records from the shelter showed that she was only 11 months old but had already been a mom. She had recently been given medicine to stop her from producing breast milk.

I thought she was maybe crying because she was scared and missed her babies, but my husband suspected heat was more probable. Instead of waiting for her turn on the shelter’s spay list, we got our own vet and got Ghost Cat fixed right away. She quieted down a little, but is still a chatty girl.

These days she spends her nights cuddled with us and sometimes snoring softly, but she still talks as soon as she wakes up. She talks all day, and I know when I walk in the door her little meows mean "I missed you!"

5. She is not clicker trained — or any kind of trained

When we got Ghost Cat home, my husband asked me when I was going to start clicker training her. For months I’d been watching cat behavior shows and YouTube videos about clicker training cats. I’d pored over instructions online and was convinced I could do it. But when we first brought Ghost Cat home she was skittish, shy, and afraid. She was stressed. She was in a new place with new people that she didn’t trust yet, and I just didn’t have the heart to start training her to do anything other than cuddle.

I figured I should work on that before I started trying to teach her anything else.

6. She gets to go on the counter

She’d jump up and I’d put her down, and we’d repeat that cycle until I gave up. I know that she shouldn’t be up there, but she usually gets up there to be closer to me, or to launch herself onto a shoulder ride. How could I try to train away such an expression of love? Even if it does mean her feet are sometimes on the same surface I use to cook? The day she got into the fridge was the day I just gave up trying to keep her off of or out of anything kitchen related.

Although our idealized, imaginary, hairless, totally trained male cat and my real-life, crazy former stray are as different as can be, I wouldn’t trade her for all the Sphynx kittens in the world.

I know now that Ghost Cat knew better than I did. I believe she chose us when we walked into that cat room at the SPCA, because she knew what we needed more than we did. Her love has changed me as a person, and changed the way I think about pets. I will never consider buying an animal again, because my little cat has taught me that shelter survivors are absolutely priceless.

Have you ever had your heart set on one cat and then ended up with a totally different feline companion? Let us know in the comments.

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About the author: Heather Marcoux is Ghost Cat’s mom. She is also a wife, writer and former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts GIFs of her cat on Google +.

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