Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3: Hey, Didja Hear the One About the Cat Adoptions...? A Tale of Perceived Prejudice

Holly & Arthur (snapped from my cell phone, in a compromising position...)

Not usually the preamble to a good joke, but lately I'm seriously starting to think it should be.  I'm writing this post before we have a firm conclusion to the story, but won't post it until I have the final update at the end. You never know who's reading, right?  (Note:  this was written several weeks ago, updated at the end...)

I'm sorry this post is so long, but the implied / perceived disability prejudice had to be rolled out in its entirety - I'd love your opinions here!

Our odyssey to adopt 2 kittens to fill the kitty-shaped holes in our hearts began on Saturday, when we learned that a local shelter would be bringing their cats to the Petsmart in a neighboring town.  Samantha, previously excited at the prospect, decided at the last minute that she didn't want to do it after all.  I think she was just in a groove, playing at home, and didn't feel up to going out.  When I asked her once more if she wanted to go pick out two kittens, she said, "No kittens!  A dog.

Yeah.  No.

So we drove to Petsmart, veterinarian file in-hand as proof of our devotion to our pets, to show that we really are responsible pet owners.  And we saw two beautiful, 4-month old kittens who had been born feral, but have been domesticated for the last 2 months.  And we talked to the person who has been fostering them, who answered our questions, told us how much she loves them, put one in Samantha's lap to pet.  And we submitted our application to the woman from the shelter, providing more information than even the Secret Service would require for a position on the President's personal detail, giving 3 references for her to call.  The woman from the shelter quizzed us, asking way more questions than we'd come prepared to answer (not once but twice we were asked if we would declaw them, and if we'd have them as indoor or outdoor cats), including what evolved into the following conversation:

Her (motioning to Samantha):  How old is she?  4?  5?

Me:  She's 6.

Her (sounding surprised):  Oh!  I just wanted to ask because we usually don't adopt kittens to families with children younger than 5.  You never know, a young child might just wonder what would happen if you were to flush a kitten in the toilet, or something like that. 

I just laughed, and agreed.

In the meantime, a tired Samantha had a hissy fit because she wanted to open the cages to pet the cats.  Tears flowing, her stubborn gene kicked into full gear, she wanted nothing more than to get close to the kitties.  Not quite the display of maturity I'd hoped to show off to the shelter lady...

...who told us she'd likely conclude the investigation by Monday or Tuesday, and would give us a call to arrange a time for the cats to be dropped off at our house. 

Hooray!  Sounds awesome! 


Walking through the front door after returning from Petsmart, our home phone was ringing. 

It was the woman from the shelter. 

When we saw who it was, Steve joked to me that either she was calling to tell us that we could go ahead and have the cats, or she had concerns.

He took the call.  And discovered that he was right.  She had concerns.

About what?  I heard him tell her that we've been cat owners forever, and Samantha had grown up with cats.  He stressed how gentle Sammi is with cats.  Little alarm bells went off throughout my head.  Could we be experiencing prejudice?  Ordinarily we'd never deign to jump to that conclusion.  But there was just something...  I kept that thought to myself. 

The shelter lady said okay, and then reiterated that she'd be back in touch after she concluded the investigation.

My friends that I'd included as references all reported back to me that they'd received calls from her and given glowing reports.   Great, we should hear back from her soon...  And we did.  By way of a phone call to tell us that she had concerns about skittish cats being placed in a home with a small child.  Wouldn't we perhaps be interested in a different pair of kittens, ones that would purr more, would be more affectionate?  Well, sure, but we've committed to these kittens.

Besides, did she just say skittish?  Nobody had ever said anything about skittish.  The woman fostering the cats said they were lovely and sweet, and loved to play.  The adoption pages for both cats on the shelter's website said nothing but sweet, loving things about them.  The kittens showed absolutely no signs of being skittish when they were caged and on display in the store, allowing countless hands to pet and paw them as they tried to sleep amid all the bustle.  They showed absolutely no signs of being skittish when the foster-mom placed one on Samantha's lap.  He didn't squirm or react with fright, he just did what comes naturally, and tried to jump down. 

We reiterated that we were just. fine. with these two cats, that we were anxious to conclude the process and get them home. 

The next night, another call.  Short of starting to think we're being stalked, Steve humored her with amazing self-control, and explained, in answer to her ridiculous question, that our vet only had 3 years of records, going back to 2009, because we only just moved to our town in 2009 and prior to that our cats had been insanely healthy. 

Next question? (and here's where Steve nearly lost his cool...)

Crazy Cat Lady:  Let's do this...  The couple who are fostering the cats are going away this weekend.  Why don't we have them bring them to your house, and you can take care of them while they're away, and we can see how things go. 

Uh, no thank you.  If they're coming to our house, they're coming here for good.  We're getting pretty sick of jumping through hoops for these people, and are this close to calling it off and finding kittens from another source.  It's not like they're not out there. 

Steve told her that her idea was not in any way, shape or form a good idea.  She relented, and said okay.  She'd contact the couple and have them get in contact with us to find a day/time this week to "deliver" the kittens to us (weird choice of words - like they're furniture or something). 

It was then that Steve asked me if I had the thought that perhaps she was uncomfortable with Samantha's disability. 

Now we were both on the same page. 

He said that if they came back to us once more with questions or concerns, he was going to come out with it, ask her point blank if that was an issue.

And now we wait.

I want so much to post this before we have the cats in our home, but I had exchanged e-mails with the shelter lady, and know that my blog address was in my e-mail signature.  I don't want to jeopardize the process if she happens to catch this post before the exchange of money ($100+ each, but it includes spaying/neutering) for cats can take place.

We're adopting cats, not children!!  I'm surprised they didn't want to tour our house first, do a home study, request our fingerprints... 

UPDATE:  We found out that the adoption isn't fully complete until after spaying and neutering, which just occured on Monday, so I've had to delay this post for quite some time.  The cats have now been in our house for a month, happy as little furry clams.  They rule the roost, purr all the time, follow us everywhere, and sleep on the bed every night.  Samantha is wonderful with them, and they love her.  I saw the adoption lady a few weeks ago and she asked how things were going.  I told her how amazing they are.  Her response?  A very surprised "Oh, I guess I was wrong!"  Yes, lady, you were.  Thanks for pissing us off so beautifully.  But thanks for letting us have these amazing little additions to our family. 


krlr said...

You showed amazing restraint! I'm not sure I would have been nearly as agreeable. But belated congrats on your new kitties!

Jenny said...

Holy crap, lol, I have never heard of one having to jump through so many hoops just to be deemed fit to be a damn cat owner! Good grief! Next time you want a cat Becca we usually have some kittens here on the Ranch!
And ya, I got the vibe that there was a little bit of discrimination going on, I mean what else could it have been...She just didn't want to come right out and say it. I agree with the first comment, you showed amazing restraint!

Anonymous said...

The amount of self control you both showed while dealing with the adoption woman's attitude is amazing. SO glad the kittens got a new loving home and also kinda happy that you showed the woman how silly she was being by being able to tell her how happy you all are with the cats

gwen said...

That is ridiculous, and kind of hilarious if its not happening to you. My mom always had cats and she just went to the shelter, petsmart adoption, etc. and paid the money. That lady clearly takes her job a little too seriously and obviously has some judgements on people who are not fitting her ideas of "cat people". Happy for you that everything worked out!

Cate said...

There may have been some fear of DS/prejudice mixed in, but my gut feeling is that she's just another lunatic. Some of these cat adoption people are particularly nuts. You are not the first friend I've heard similar stories from, about ridiculous hoop-jumping.

Anna said...

She would have never placed her cats in our home. I would have given up at the first phone call.

Melissa said...

Yeeeeahhhh......bit over the top, but it sounds like there might have been more there then a general worry over small kids.

Lisa said...

A crazy cat lady for sure! Very impressed with your restraint and control - not sure I'd have been that patient with her.

Not a Perfect Mom said...

um, seriously? seriously?
I would have lost it...

lexi magnusson said...

Ha!!! Did you watch Modern Family last week? You have to! Same sort of thing! I think if it were at all disability related, it was only because they thought they were looking out FOR Samantha, thus the suggestion of not getting the ones that were born feral. You never know though.

April Vernon said...

UNBELIEVABLE! You were more patient that I would have been! Now you should be able to run for Congress or do anything else you want in life since you passed such rigorous standards! Sheesh!

Lisa said...

My heart was actually racing reading this post. Holy crap, what a load of hooey. I'm glad the kitties are home with you now.

Monique said...

Wow, I wish one of you had asked her. Put her on the spot to see what she had to say. I could not believe that when I read it. Glad they are in your home though. What did you name them??

Becca said...

Monique - we let Samantha name them. The girl is Holly (named after one of her teacher's cats), and the boy is Arthur (named after the cartoon/book character, Arthur the Aardvark, with whom she is obsessed). I would have chosen much bigger, bad-ass names, but I'm thrilled that she came up with those two on her own!! :-)

Jess said...

I definitely get the vibe from your story that this lady was uneasy about Sammi - which is crazy ridiculous and not to mention rude and demeaning. She also sounds like she's a little to invested in these cats - or maybe cats in general. In my humble no-pets-to-speak-of opinion, pets are for our enjoyment and companionship. Not to say that it's okay to mistreat them, but ... they're not people!

Anyways, interesting story and I'm glad everything worked out!!

starrlife said...

Geesh! That is ridiculous.

Meriah said...

I'm with Anna - I would have given up after the first phone call. RIDICULOUS.

(but glad it worked out)

Karrie said...

Wow! I can't believe you had to go through ALL that! I give you kuddos, though, I would never had made it past the 2nd phone call without laying into them.

Megan and family said...

Crazy story! I'm so glad the kittens are home with you for good. It's too bad people can't be more like animals - free from prejudices! I know those kitties must love Samantha and don't think she's any different than any other little girl! :)

D said...

I am here to tell you that unfortunately your experience is not unique and probably not related to your daughter's disability.

I am a vet and often hear from wonderful potential pet owners how ridiculously stringent and picky the animal rescue people have become about placing animals into homes. Many times, it takes ten forevers for these foster "parents" to find the right homes for their "children." No one is good enough. No. one. I have personally called as references for people and gotten the same treatment. It comes from good intentions on the part of the rescue groups, but it can be really annoying and makes you question the emotional stablility of some of these folks.

I'm glad it all worked out for y'all and I really, for real think that it was more the fact that you didn't fit into this lady's preconceived idea of what the perfect home would be (silk pillow, fancy feast in a crystal bowl, 20 minutes of brushing a day following by a therapeutic massage, etc). Funny post!

Anonymous said...

I second the vet who says that there are LOTS of nutty pet rescue folks who never, ever seem to want to want the animals to go to PERFECTLY GOOD homes. It is possible you experienced discrimination, but it's also possible you were working with a nutty rescue group.

(I am a volunteer with a breed-specific rescue and cannot even being to count the number of lovely, lovely families who adopt dogs from us because the local SPCA turned them down - SPCA won't let folks with kids under 16, folks with cats OR folks without fully fenced in yards adopt any dog. EVER. I'm all for making sure that a rescued dog is good fit for a specific family, and extra diligence for people with littleLITTLE kids is definitely warranted... but the SPCA standards go WAAAAY too far. Heck, they wouldn't let ME adopt a dog due to a lack of a fenced in backyard. Despite the fact that a 6 ft, $6 leash works just beautifully).

Enjoy your new furkids!!

Anonymous said...

The local rescue groups are quite serious about their adoptions. I had the same experience, even after being a cat owner all my life. I've adopted cats from two different rescue groups and both asked a lot of questions. One even did a home visit to meet me in my natural habitat (so to speak). Both groups have concerns about families with young children, so your having a child, especially one with a "disability" probably raised the red flag. It's a little crazy but I'm glad out worked out for you.

Lisa Ciancarelli said...

How ridiculous & aggravating. Went through this process a year ago with a shelter in Jersey, and am astounded how they ever get the cats placed. We were interrogated, interviewed, met with in person and threatened with legal prosecution if we did not abide by the terms of their adoption policies. We love our cat, and she's happy as can be in our home, but she is a bit skid-dish (after being feral for 5 months prior to our adoption) and has taken time to warm up to us. You're justified to feel discriminated against, it sounds as though the person you had to deal with was looking for a reason to not grant the adoption. And ask you to cat-sit for the foster family? - outrageous. I couldn't agree more, once through the door, you can't take a pet away from a child; to do so is just heartless. I think the shelter needs to better screen their staff/volunteers. Unreal.