I’ll never forget the day I adopted Sookie. I went to the shelter with my boyfriend, and we walked up to the first cage door, peering inside to see a small tabby boy. I tried to talk to him and get his attention, but he frankly didn’t care to give me the time of day. All of a sudden, I heard a loud BANG next to me and I turned to my left to see a black cat running up to the front of the cage and rubbing against the bars so hard that all you heard were loud rattling noises.
I looked inside and saw these two big golden eyes. She pressed her face into the bars and looked at me, and I just knew. Over and over again, she rubbed against the bars, practically yelling at me to adopt her. That day, we applied for her and waited hours, finally going home with our little girl.
Sookie settled in fairly quickly, making herself right at home. Every time we’d leave a room, she’d come prancing after us, wondering where we went. She was over a year old when we adopted her, but she had the energy of a kitten, jumping and climbing everywhere. I remember the first time she jumped up onto the couch next to me. I have a picture of it. This little derpy black cat came bouncing up to me like “Hello!”
It’s so funny but her favorite toy is this drawstring. It’s from an old sweatshirt my boyfriend had. Every time he’d put it on, Sookie would go nuts, jumping and pawing at the string. So, we decided to just take the string out and give it to her. Now, every time I pick it up, she comes running out of nowhere. I bought all of these other toys with colorful feathers and bells, and she’s just happy with her string.
Adopting Sookie motivated me to learn about feline behavior, medical care, fostering, TNR and more. She opened my eyes to this whole rescue community that I didn’t know about before. It’s because of Sookie that I began fostering with PuppyKittyNYC, volunteering at the North Shore Animal League, and got certified in TNR, hoping to help other animals who aren’t as lucky. Animal rescue has become such an important part of my life, that I can’t ever imagine not doing this work.
When it comes to fostering, Sookie is essential. With every foster we pick up, we go through a transition period. Depending on how fearful or under socialized they are, we’ll set them up in our bathroom or a big playpen. Sookie will sit nearby, wherever they are, and just wait. She knows to give them space, but then she’ll slowly go up to the playpen and peer inside. There might be the occasional hiss as she tells them who’s in charge, but from then on, Sookie becomes their teacher, working with the fosters in ways I simply can’t because well…I’m not a cat.
When the fosters eventually leave the playpen, Sookie starts off by giving them a tour, showing them around the apartment. Every foster we’ve had loves Sookie. They follow her around, eat with her, play with her and even sleep with her. She’s their role model. When she gets pet, they look at me like “maybe I want pets?” and slowly start to come out of their shell and gain their confidence.
Izzy is a perfect example of this. She came to us as a feral 3-month-old kitten, rescued by PuppyKittyNYC and just completely petrified of humans. The first time I met her, she hid all the way in the back of the carrier, ears totally flat and pupils huge. I reached my hand towards her, and she hissed and growled, shaking so much. I spent months socializing her, hand-feeding her food, laying on the floor next to her playpen, and playing with her as much as I could.
Sookie was the one who helped make a breakthrough with Izzy. The second Izzy would see her, she’d ignore me and run up to the edge of the playpen, trying to get Sookie’s attention. Izzy settled into the rest of the apartment, and we saw how close she and Sookie became. Izzy follows her around like a little shadow and completely adores her. For me, goodbye is the goal when it comes to fostering (as Kitten Lady says), because the finish line is finding your foster a perfect home so you can help an animal who needs you more. But when I looked at Izzy, something changed, and I couldn’t say bye! That’s how we experienced our first foster fail and decided to officially adopt her this past February.
One of my favorite things about Izzy is how she chirps whenever she’s excited. When I come home, I usually see her and Sookie sitting together, waiting for food, and Izzy will look at me with these bright eyes and just give the cutest chirp. It’s almost like she’s singing and sounds like prrrrrpt!
Sookie is almost four years old now and she’s just as goofy as ever, currently guiding our foster Brixton, a four-year-old black cat who almost looks like her. Brixton is such a sweet and gentle soul, rescued from a dangerous area in Queens and in need of someone who will give her time and patience. So many cats aren’t as fortunate as Sookie or Izzy, ending up at kill shelters or on the streets. The homeless cat population is never-ending, especially here in New York, but this rescue community is also never-ending, constantly helping animals whenever they can, and I knew I needed to be a part of it and take action.
At the end of a long day, I’ll sit on the couch after socializing Brixton and playing with Izzy, and Sookie will jump up onto my lap. She’ll roll over onto her back, all four paws up in the air and look at me like “okay I want belly rubs now……I’ll wait.” I just look at her and think ‘I am so thankful for this goofball.’
Dilpreet Kainth lives in Queens with her boyfriend Craig, Sookie and Izzy. When she’s not working at Vox Media, she’s fostering and volunteering, socializing felines who have been rescued from a variety of difficult situations. During her free time, she can be found standing perplexed in front of her bookcase, trying to figure out the next book to read, while Sookie and Izzy try to climb the shelves.