Adopted Cat Bring Family Joy After Loss
Thanks to Choo Choo, Staci’s family is surrounded by comfort and love.
Staci + Choo Choo
When Staci’s Mom was in hospice, an adopted cat named Choo Choo came along and helped her Dad start to find joy again.
"There is no doubt that Choo Choo’s loving, outgoing and calm demeanor and easiness were and are bright lights in a very dark and sad time for Dad and our family."
“Mom needs a hospice cat.” Even though it was my Dad who said that, I knew that he was the one who really needed a hospice cat. Mom had been fighting a rare cancer called Leiomyosarcoma for seven and a half years, and her time on earth was rapidly drawing to a close. Not only was my Dad losing his wife of 45 years, my parents’ last cat had just passed away at the ripe old age of 19. This would be the first time that my Dad had never had a cat in his life, and he would have to live in their house alone.
I knew he needed a companion to bring him happiness and joy, both for the immediate time in his life, and after Mom’s passing. As a volunteer for Second Chance Pets, I suggested he foster a calm, 1-year-old female cat who had been rescued from a high-volume animal shelter. Her fur was completely matted and half of her hair was missing due to flea allergies. My Dad jumped at the opportunity to foster her… he said she shouldn’t have to endure wearing cheerleader outfits anymore to catch the eyes of adopters.
“Choo Choo” was an immediate hit with everyone; from the cleaning ladies to the therapists, to the nurses and to friends and family. The wheelchair and walker didn’t faze her one bit and we would often find her belly-up in the middle of the floor, no matter how much commotion was occurring or how many people were in their house (and let me tell you, it was a lot!). In fact, one therapist and nurse who had never been a cat person before wanted to know where she could go to adopt such a cool cat like Choo Choo. Dad’s only (joking and loving) complaints about her where that she didn’t understand the words “no” and “move.”
In Mom’s final weeks and days, Choo Choo hardly left my Dad’s side. In fact, she often forced him to share the small love-seat sofa with her so that they could all sleep in the living room with my Mom. The family photo with Mom, Dad and Choo Choo to celebrate her official adoption was the last photo my Dad would ever take with Mom, as Mom passed away a few weeks later.
He constantly texts me pictures of his cat, and when he signs birthday cards now Choo Choo’s name is first before his own. He made a welcome home post for her on his Facebook, too. There is no doubt that Choo Choo’s loving, outgoing and calm demeanor and easiness were and are bright lights in a very dark and sad time for Dad and our family. When Dad adopted Choo Choo, I would never imagined she would have turned out to be such a good cheerleader for Dad — and I know that she will keep him chugging along for years to come.
Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Staci won Second Chance Pets in League City, Texas a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.