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Anjanette & Willard

My name is Anjanette and I am an animal care associate here at Valley Animal Center.

While I do love dogs, I have been working with cats exclusively for about four years. If I could talk about cats all day, I absolutely would. However, I haven’t always been a cat person. I only ever really had one pet of my own growing up and that was a hamster, but I saw cats around the neighborhood. They were all feral cats, so I assumed that was how all cats were.

Coming back to present time, I do have a cat of my own; his name is Willard. Being a cat mom has had MANY ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade Willard for anything.

Willard came to me about six months after I started working at my first shelter job. He was my first foster animal. At the time, he was about five weeks old, malnourished, and had some really funky legs.

I only took him home the first night to make sure he could eat on his own. I also wanted to wrap his legs for stability. At this point, I had no idea what was in store for either of us, especially because I had never taken care of a kitten on my own.

Of course I fell in love with him right away. He was eating really well and his legs were a lot sturdier than we thought they would be. He was really good at taking the bandages off, so I kept taking him home to make sure he had the best chance at having normal legs in the future.

A few weeks in, I noticed that Willard’s neck was swollen, but I could not figure out why. I asked all of my coworkers for advice but no one had a clue about what it was. Even the veterinarian was stumped.

Willard was placed on antibiotics and one day, without warning, the swollen part of his neck burst open. I will spare the graphic details, but it was very scary for both Willard and me. He was still less than two months old, and I had not experienced the type of wound care that I was taking on.

This started a daily cycle of cleaning him, giving him his medicine, and fighting with him to let me do either. My family was forced to join in his care. I would stay up all night to make sure he was alive and fell in love with this helpless little friend I had made.

After a couple weeks of this, Willard began to do better. His wound was now a scab and I didn’t have to work so hard to clean it. It left the smallest scar you can imagine for something so traumatic. However, due to the stress and whatnot, he did lose a lot of his hair. He looked too funny for adoption, so I kept him until it grew back. In the meantime, we were met with other issues, such as upper respiratory infection and the dreaded ringworm.

Finally, this little kitty was about five months old and ready for the adoption floor.

I was very sad, but thought it was the best option for Willard since I had never owned a cat before. Willard waited to be adopted for about two more months. To get him adopted, he was featured in the window of a pet store but that was a bust. After a lot of back and forth with myself, I decided that he was going to be my first cat.

Willard is now about 3 and a half years old and is my best friend.

His favorite activity is using me as a bed, playing with his toys, and climbing up his cat tree to survey the neighborhood.

If Willard and I hadn’t experienced those six months together, I don’t think I would appreciate cats as much as I do. I definitely don’t think I would have fostered kittens this year.

I think it is a shame that it took as long as it did for me to realize that I am a cat lady.