Finding the connections – one cat at a time | Ann Oxrieder

Even if scientists have shown it takes more than six steps to connect any two people in the world, experience tells us that the small world factor is always at work.

The day after my husband and I adopted our orange tabby, Gordon, from the Meow cat shelter, I heard from Janis, the woman who trapped him at Lake Stevens and cared for him until the shelter had space. Unbeknownst to us, Janis and I both retired from the Bellevue School District and when she learned that Gordon had moved from the shelter to a home she checked the adoption papers and recognized my name.

I passed on this story to someone else I used to work with, who shared it with another former colleague, who knew the trapper. These two people were connected through their volunteer work with the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project. The former colleague forwarded a newsletter from this project in which Janis was honored “for her unwavering commitment and dedication to homeless cats and kittens everywhere...”

One cat – four human connections.

Since the cat and his rescuer (also trapper, foster parent, and tamer), represented a new connection between me and my friends, I arranged to interview the woman who’d started the chain reaction.

Janis says that making sure all cats receive the services they need – spaying/neutering, blood tests and immunizations – is all in a day’s volunteer work. Work that also involves housing cats in her garage and home for days and weeks. Gordon, who had been on the loose for a while, was in her care for a month, while she worked to make him adoptable.

The recession has not made her job easier. When people walk away from foreclosed homes they often leave their pets behind, which means her volunteer job comes with plenty of pressure. Janis says, “The demand for what I do is so high. The shelters simply cannot take in so many free-roaming cats. What I find most stressful is not knowing what to do with cats in some situations.” Yet she persists.

One example of success for Janis is finding a good home for a cat. I thank her and Gordon for being part of these small world connections. If Gordon could talk he’d tell her she’d done a good job, what with regular meals, toys to play with, room to roam around, and two laps to lie on. Come to think of it, Gordon can talk. The comment on his medical record was “most vocal award!” Maybe Janis also knows how to keep him quiet.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates