the story of henry.

I’ve been an animal lover ever since I can remember. I organized blanket drives for our local shelter when I was in public school. I was always bringing home stray animals, from a mouse with a missing eye and a baby squirrel that had been kicked out of its nest. An orphaned rat and unwanted kittens were the most normal pets of the bunch. When I was 12 I even bought a baby horse that was supposed to go to auction. And my love of animals was the main reason I decided to become vegetarian when I was 11.

So, when I planned my move in October, I knew I wouldn’t really be living alone, even though I wouldn’t have a roommate. My family had always had cats when I was growing up and as soon as I found my apartment, I started looking for a furry feline friend to adopt. However, before I’d even officially signed my life, one strutted into my life instead.

We’d moved the magazine to a shared office space in August that, coincidentally, is right around the corner from my new place. One morning I got to work rather early to find a cat sitting on the front stoop of our building, as if he was waiting for someone to let him in. Unable to resist anything cute and fuzzy, I sat down with him for a few minutes as he let me scratch behind his ears and give him a good pet.

When the building’s receptionist arrived, she decided to play a prank on the office manager by letting my new cat friend in to greet him. Cat quickly made himself at home by sprawling out on one of the sofas. After he charmed a few of the other tenants, I decided I better put him back outside.

I kept seeing this cute little guy around the neighbourhood and he quickly became known around our office as “my cat.” The other tenants would let me know when he was around and I’d laugh, showing them how quickly he’d rush across the street when I called him.

Having gotten quite attached to this critter, I started inquiring as to whether he had an owner. While he had a pretty sleek coat and was comfortable around people, he did show some signs of neglect. He wasn’t fixed, he had scabs on his neck, and mite bites in his ears. The response I got was that he’d likely been dumped in the neighbourhood as he had only been coming around since July (it was now the fall) and that he seemed to be living under the dumpster across from our office. Anxious that he not be left out in the cold for the winter, I called Animal Services. They came and picked him up, and I made it clear that, should they not be able to find his owner, I wanted to take him home. They assured me that if that was the case, he’d be mine in a couple of weeks.

However, a little less than a week later I received a call from one of the shelter’s vet assistants. She insisted that if I couldn’t pick up the cat, who I’d nicknamed Henry, he was going to be put down. She explained that he was very anxious being around the other cats and was growling and scratching at the shelter’s staff. I was surprised, as this description was so different than the friendly, cuddly animal I’d met. I was also distraught. There was no way I could take him home until I moved into my new place in another week and as it was Thanksgiving weekend, I couldn’t find anyone in town to take him in. But after many pleading phone calls and being near tears on the phone, the shelter finally agreed to keep him around until I could come get him the following weekend.

And that’s exactly what I did. As soon as all of my boxes were moved into the Bachelorette Pad, I got on the next streetcar down to the shelter. The woman I’d spoken to on the phone apologized for scaring me, saying that she’d warmed up to Henry as she got to know him. I was just relieved that he was okay and happily signed the paperwork to take him home.

Henry settled into his new home right away. Although the shelter staff feared that his time on the street might mean that he would never get comfortable enough to let me pick him up or rub his belly, he overcame each of these obstacles within the first 24 hours of living with me. I did eventually find out that he does have an aggressive side. Although I don’t think he intends to be mean, he likes to play like a giant kitten and nothing makes him happier than making calculated attacks on my limbs. Needless to say, I’m constantly having to find ways to distract him from doing so.

However, he’s also proven to be the best pet I’ve ever had. Henry charms everyone he meets and makes me laugh everyday with his crazy antics and his ability to find the strangest places to hang out. We sleep cuddled up together every night and he growls when strangers come to the door, in what seems to be his valiant and adorable attempt to protect me. On Sunday it will be three months since we moved in together and I can’t imagine not having him in my life. And yes, I may be well on my way to life as a crazy cat lady but somehow, I don’t seem to mind.

Have you ever adopted a pet? Have you ever dealt with behavioural problems like Henry’s?



  1. Wow, what a touching story. I’m so glad you were able to save Henry. His eyes are amazing, such a beautiful cat who I’m sure is just in need of some nurturing love and care.

    I haven’t saved an animal from a shelter, however it is something I plan to do as soon as I am in a living situation in which I can get my own dog. I have been an animal lover since I was a tiny girl and find it so distressing to think of all the animals in shelters, especially that so many have to be put down.

    thanks for sharing!


  1. […] Henry has been living with us at my mom’s for just over three weeks now and I couldn’t be happier to have this handsome guy back in my life on a full-time basis. […]

  2. […] able to help lamenting everything that I’m leaving behind. I think about saying good-bye to Henry, or leaving my parents at the airport, or even that I won’t be in the same timezone when I […]

  3. […] cat lady, but one of the hardest decisions I had to make about my move was whether or not to bring Henry with […]

  4. […] ‘old’ life. It felt completely natural to be back. And when I got out of the car, even Henry gave out a little meow to welcome me home (or perhaps chastise me for staying away so […]

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