Pet Spotlight: Missy

Missy’s foster turned adopter talks about her beautiful journey with Missy

Our first meeting wasn’t exactly love at first sight: Missy, my assigned Bideawee foster cat, was flattened against the back of the plastic carrier, sedated, huddled under a blanket, and terrified. “Wow. She looks really scared.” Yoko, my fostering supervisor, simply said: “Yes.”

Yoko explained that Missy had been one of 5 cats rescued from an empty house after the owner passed. Two of the cats didn’t survive the experience. But Missy, one of two formerly homeless cats kept in the windowless basement, had somehow beaten the odds. She was a gorgeous blue point Siamese, around 15 years old, missing all but 3 teeth, overwhelmed by both the busy shelter environment and an earlier furry roommate who had bullied her. Yoko asked me, as a brand-new shelter foster volunteer, for a peaceful temporary place for Missy: “She needs a safe place where she can feel secure. Right now.”

I have always loved cats. But I didn’t think I had much to offer, given that I lived alone, worked during the day, and travelled. Would a solo cat be happy in my very quiet Manhattan apartment? For the past 15 years, I had thought No. Yet the pandemic caused me to re-examine my life and to recommit to contributing as much as possible to this world in the short time we all have on this earth. I figured that somewhere out there was a needy rescue cat, sitting alone in some shelter cubicle, hoping and waiting for a forever home in a scary, noisy place. My apartment was quiet and empty most of the day. I decided to offer to share it, temporarily, with a furry little New Yorker in need of it. Bideawee offered all the supplies, training, and support I would need. I signed up. My first assignment: Missy.

When I got Missy home, I had a separate room all set up for her. I opened the carrier door and left her alone. For three days, she stayed in the farthest corner of the bedroom, under the bed. Then, finally, the litterbox called.

Over the next 12 weeks, Missy and I worked every day on helping her become a more confident, adoption-ready cat. She embarked upon a very steep learning curve: apartment sounds, human presence, toys and play, treats… and TRUST. It was all new. Our progress reports, videos, and photos were sent to Yoko weekly, so that Bideawee could offer medical, behavioral, and supply support. Yoko’s guidance was amazing and our efforts were paying off! Slowly and steadily, Missy was letting her guard down…

Around Week 12 of fostering Missy, Yoko texted me: “I may have a potential adopter interested in Missy!” Missy’s glowing progress reports meant that she had been listed for adoption. Wait…. WHAT????

Yes, this was incredible news: Cats like Missy are “underdogs” in the adoption game; unlike cute little kittens, they don’t tend to fly off the adoption shelves… even though Missy’s own adoption fee was listed as $0. Some traumatized senior cats are so shy and fearful that their true selves don’t emerge until months after finding the right environment—although, very often, what emerges is a better companion than you could have ever imagined. In Missy’s case, she had transformed into a relaxed, happy, tug-of-war-playing, loyal, impeccably behaved, AMAZING apartment-mate that gave so much more than I could ever offer her.

Now that she was ready, I wanted Missy to win the adoption lottery! But I also found myself unexpectedly protective of her: would the adopter truly appreciate her? Understand her cute little quirks and supply her most favorite toys? Give her the patience she needed, the respect she deserved… the treats she liked best??? Understand that she wasn’t just any old cat, but a one-in-a-million super cat? As my mother commented, “I really hope she finds a home that’s even half as supportive as the one she’s had with you.” Maybe I had something good to offer a cat companion, after all…?
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I formally adopted Missy. I am so proud of her and the life lessons she teaches by example:

· Resilience. Shelter cats have often faced severe adversity. Like Missy, they may have been mistreated, abandoned, injured, or forced to survive on their own. Yet they have an inner strength that helps them bounce back with remarkable resilience.

· Independence and Gratitude. Shelter cats are often very independent. Missy is self-reliant, self-sufficient, and understands the importance of enjoying simple things: naps, treats, a favorite mouse toy, sitting in a sunbeam. She reminds me daily of the importance of self-care, boundaries, and enjoying the present moment.

· Patience. Don’t judge a shelter cat by its cover. Working with Missy, big progress was made over countless, very small steps. Missy taught me the importance of going slow, creating the right circumstances, waiting until the time is right—from working up to playing with a scary new wand toy to taking treats directly out of my hand.

· Acceptance and Unconditional Love. Shelter cats recognize and are grateful for the second chance you’ve given them and are deeply loyal. After many weeks of actively hiding from me, Missy now greets me at the door, gives me lots of slow-blinks (“kitty kisses”), and cuddles up when I’ve been away on travel. Overcoming her anxiety isn’t always easy for her, but she makes active efforts every day. The power of love and the joy of the human-animal bond are boundless.

By opening my heart and home to Missy, I ended up getting much more than I gave. If you’re considering fostering or adopting, please reach out to Bideawee. Your temporary fostering can transform a cat’s future, and I can think of no better place from which to adopt.
And you never know: you may just find, very unexpectedly, your perfect fur-ever friend along the way.

Bring home your best friend.