An Adoption Story: Tater Tot

I’m an animal person through and through. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for furry friends. I was constantly bringing home cats and dogs and begging my parents to let me keep them. No matter how many times my parents told me to stop bringing home strays, I just couldn’t say no to a creature in need.

As an adult, not much has changed. Instead of my parents telling me to stop bringing home strays, my fiance rolls his eyes and looks the other way until I can rehome my latest rescue. However, I do get to keep a few for myself. We have two cats and a hedgehog. They all have interesting adoption stories, but our newest addition is my favorite.

My fiance and I had been casually talking about getting another pet. He really wanted to adopt a dog, but I knew I wanted another cat. We live in a condo and we both agreed that we would rather have a dog when we have a house with a yard. But, if we fell in love with a dog during our search for a new family member we wouldn’t rule anything out.

I knew I wanted another cat. Our cat, Teddy, loved playing with my moms cat and other cats we had temporarily homed since we had him. My fiance wasn’t sold on the idea of another cat but agreed to keep all options open.

We spent most of the Saturday before Easter at various shelters and adoption fairs in town seeing if we connected with any animals. I knew that whatever pet we got next, I wanted to consider older or disabled options first. These animals don’t get adopted as easily and often spend much of their lives in shelters waiting for someone to give them a chance. I was in a place where I knew I could care for a pet with more specific needs and I was willing to take on that responsibility.

However, our newest addition needed to fit in with our existing pets, specifically Teddy. He tends to dislike animals significantly larger than himself, so we’d have to consider that in our decision. Most of the older and/or disabled animals needed to be the only pet or couldn’t be in a home with another cat. We met so many animals, but no one really stood out to us.

We saw a group of people crowded around a small cage. We walked over to see what all the fuss was about. Inside the cage was a small Australian Shepard puppy. She had beautiful blue eyes and brown freckles all over her coat. She would lick anyone’s fingers that came up to the cage and looked like she could bust out any minute to play. She was up for adoption and was getting a lot of attention for obvious reasons.

My fiance and I stopped at the cage to admire the puppy. He instantly fell in love. We sat and played with the puppy for a few minutes and discussed adoption. We decided to take the plunge and apply to adopt the puppy. When I asked the foster parent about the puppy, she said we were welcome to apply but eight people had already applied and applications would be reviewed first come first serve. My heart sank a little but we applied anyways, just in case.

My fiance and I decided to continue looking the next day. After Easter brunch, we stopped by our local Petsmart. We walked over to where the cats were for adoption and started playing with them.

Tater Tot’s bio was featured in a local pet adoption magazine!

In the bottom cage closest to the wall was a small white and black kitten. I stooped down to get a better look and realized he had just one eye. The kitten realized someone was trying to get his attention and he attempted to get down off of the platform he was laying on. It was then I realized he had a problem with his front right leg as well. He hobbled over to me and started aggressively rubbing himself against the cage where my fingers were. This kitten just wanted to be petted! There was a larger cat in the cage that we determined was his mother. She laid there watching while her baby played with the new strangers.

At this point, I knew I wanted this kitten. He was so sweet and playful and I just felt like he would make a perfect addition to our little family. The adoption team wouldn’t be there for another hour, so we decided to run a few errands and come back.

When we came back we went straight to the cat room. There was a little girl, maybe twelve, in the room playing with cats in another cage. I had been messaging the adoption team to make sure that they would be coming today with it being a holiday. They said they would be so we decided to wait. I sat on the floor and continued to play with the little black and white kitten.

The girl’s mom came into the room and I could hear them having a heated discussion. “Why did you move? You should have just sat there next to the kitten until the people came.” The little girl was panicking and just kept saying, “I don’t know. I’m sorry!”

I tuned into this conversation because I knew what they were talking about. The mom asked me, “Are you trying to adopt that kitten? The one with just one eye?” I said yes. She explained to me that they had been waiting since eleven o’clock this morning to adopt the kitten. They had a cart full of new kitten supplies.

My heart really sank this time.

I got up off the floor and told the family that I didn’t mind if they adopted the kitten. I already had a cat, and I wasn’t going to ruin this little girls day. The mother and little girl thanked me several times, and I tried to get out of there as fast as possible.

I knew I had done the right thing, but I was so disappointed.

I was crying before I even reached our car. I’m an emotional person, and sometimes I just need to let it out so I can feel better. My fiance tried to comfort me by telling me I had done the right thing and that little girl was going to be so happy with her new kitten. I knew that, of course. But I needed some time to just be sad about it. I had my heart set on that kitten so quickly, I couldn’t believe this had happened. I knew everything would be okay.

I messaged the adoption team to let them know that if for some reason that family couldn’t adopt the kitten that I was very interested. Two hours later I got a reply. They wanted to know if I had any other pets. I told them I had a cat and a hedgehog. They told me that the family was unable to adopt the kitten because they had a young dog. This kitten needed to be in a home with another cat, at least until he was older and could fend for himself.

We jumped in the car and raced back to Petsmart. As we were walking up to the cat adoptions I noticed that family was still there. I was immediately anxious. How would this family react? They were so set on this kitten and now they can’t have him. I did NOT want to make a little girl cry over a kitten on Easter.

“OH MY GOSH, YAY!” The mother flung herself on me. She was practically in tears. “When they told us we couldn’t adopt him I immediately thought of you and felt so bad! I can’t believe you came back! I’m so happy!”

I explained to her that I had been messaging the adoption team all morning about him and when they told me her family wasn’t eligible for adoption, I rushed back over. Turns out, one of the adoption volunteers that came to work that shift brought in a few kittens she was fostering. The little girl ended up adopting one of those kittens and I ended up with the small black and white kitten.

We brought him home and decided to name him Tater Tot. And boy, am I glad we ended up with him! Tater Tot is exactly what our little family needed. It only took Tater and Teddy a few days to warm up to each other and now they are practically inseparable. Tater is the most affectionate cat I have ever met. It’s almost like he’s thanking us every day for adopting him with his still aggressive rubs and headbutts.

My pets truly are my family and I enjoy sharing these little stories about them. But that’s probably obvious at this point. I mean, my cats have an Instagram. Please share with me your fur babies adoption stories or any other fun story you might have!

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