In 2014, two cats came to the shelter together. Their names were Toby and Tovah. This pair of large, somewhat chubby cats could not be separated – Tovah would shake with fear if we separated her from Toby, and Toby would yowl until we put them back together. We adopted them out together, and all was well… for a while.

Then Toby found his way back to us.

Toby, 10 years old and declawed, has quite the story to tell.

Someone called us – he’d found a cat, it was clearly a stray: declawed, thin, and incredibly friendly. The cat had jumped in his truck when he opened the door. He couldn’t find the owner. Could we help? When he brought the cat to us, we just knew he had to belong to somebody – he was so friendly, and declawed to boot! We scanned his microchip… and found out that this thin, bedraggled creature with a runny nose was Toby. We leapt into action: where was Tovah? Did she get out too? No returned phone calls from their adopters. We got Toby started on antibiotics and offered him the best food in the shelter, in small meals so that he wouldn’t eat too much at once.

To make a long, agonizing story short: Tovah, it transpired, was well. She was still with the original adopters, but they’d had some health troubles and had given Toby away. They felt they couldn’t have two cats. We were heartbroken to hear that, instead of calling us to ask for help, they’d simply given Toby away. They couldn’t remember the person’s phone number, so we had no way to find out if that person wanted Toby back. But Toby was here with us, safe and warm and eating with gusto.

Toby is safe and warm now.

We’re not telling this story to shame or judge anyone. We understand – believe us, with everything we see here at the shelter, we understand – that life can really throw you for a loop sometimes. Sometimes that means that it’s in an animal’s best interest to find them a new home, and that is exactly why the shelter is here. We can step in and give animals a safe place, a shelter, when they need it most.

Toby paws at us until we pick him up for a cuddle.

This can even happen when someone has adopted an animal, fully believing that they will be able to provide that animal with a home for life. That’s why every adoption contract our adopters sign say, “In the event that you can no longer keep this animal, you agree to return the animal to us.” We will always, always accept them back. We strongly prefer that you call us first rather than just showing up – why? So that we can browbeat you about being a terrible pet owner? No! So that we can set up a comfortable space for them before you get here, to minimize the stress of the experience for the animal.

We’re here to help. We want to help – whether it’s to give you some info or resources that can help you keep the animal in your home, or give the animal a safe haven if need be while we find them a new home.

Toby is ready to go home again… this time hopefully for keeps.

It sounds like somehow, being in a home helped Tovah relax. She seems to be ok, even without Toby. Toby is very clingy, but he’s not yowling like he did the last time he was here. We are heartbroken that the family did not reach out to us when they were considering rehoming Toby. We are also heartbroken that Toby’s new home may not even know that he’s here, because we were unable to link his microchip to his new home’s information and can’t track him down now.

Toby is recovering well from his ordeal. We suspect he accidentally slipped out the door during a recent cold snap, and couldn’t find his way back. He’s eating, he’s gaining weight, and we’re giving him all the cuddles we can. He’s an older kitty now – about 10 years old. Toby is friendly with other cats, and we feel that he’d enjoy a home with another cat.

His nose is no longer runny, and he’s ready to find a new home. He’ll need to continue gaining weight for some time, but he’s eager to go home with someone who can give him his daily allotment of cuddles. Could that someone be you?

* Update as of February 23: Toby has been adopted! *