Happy Tails

From the toy-chasers to the lap kitties, everything we do is for the love of cats. Take a look at all the ways we make pet adoptions even more special, including behind-the-scene  Gifford Cat Shelter stories, alumni updates and other pet-centric matters .

If you have a pawsome story to share, please email it to sprice@giffordcatshelter.org or mail it to: Gifford Cat Shelter, 30 Undine Rd., Brighton MA 02135.

Comet – Cuddler Extraordinaire

In March 2013 Chris and I began looking into local shelters to adopt from. Gifford appealed to us because it put priority on matching cats to a suitable forever home rather than rehoming as many cats as possible like many other shelters.

Comet (formerly Felix) originally belonged to an elderly man who unfortunately passed. When his family came to collect his belongings they put Comet outside and left. It’s not known how long he was outside before another family found him and began feeding him. They already owned several cats and felt they couldn’t take him in so when the cold winter weather came they brought him to Gifford Cat Shelter.

In our initial meetings with Gifford we asked for an affectionate cat and Comet was immediately suggested as he was the “Cuddler Extraordinaire” of the shelter. His nickname from the shelter was incredibly apt! Comet loves laps and will do anything to lie on yours. No matter what you are doing if there is a lap he needs to be on it! He adores being the center of attention in our household and being spoiled with belly rubs, treats and his favorite mice toys.

Comet was in the shelter for 3 months which we think was due to his long coat. Luckily for us he loves being brushed and this summer we took him to get a lion haircut to help him deal with the heat. While we were initially hesitant, he loves the grooming process and his new look so much we have made it a regular occurrence! Our little lion now has the look to match his courageous personality!

-Comet’s Family

When the Magic Happens

Eleven years ago I moved to Boston for some very sad reasons.  I found a sanctuary in the Gifford Shelter. Due to my work schedule, I volunteered after hours allowing me.  That is when the magic happened.

With no (or very few) other people around, the cats acted very differently; more relaxed, more natural. One very large, black cat, was Mikey.  He was very big and looked like a panther, regal, even with most of his tail missing.  I immediately fell in love.  He arrived at the shelter at an indeterminate age, but certainly an adult, in 1990.

It was very difficult to touch Mikey and vet visits were a challenge, but I was in love. Mikey liked to sit in the window so I got a brush and leaning over as far as I could began to brush him with the very tippy tip of the brush. At first his eyes got very large, but over several months I was able to get closer and closer until one day I was able to touch my forehead to his and he began to purr.  I think I heard angels sing at that moment.  I felt so privileged, so honored that he trusted me.  One day the manager walked in, saw me petting Mikey and said in disbelief, “That’s Mikey!”

Three years later, in 2005, I had to move back to Illinois.  I was deeply torn because Mikey was failing.  I considered taking him with me, but knew he would not survive a 1,000 mile trip.  He died a month after I left.

The magical thing about Mikey is that he was so regal and so kind.  My after-hours experience showed me his true place in the group.  When a new cat came, especially a frightened, young one, it would make it’s way to Mikey.  Mikey gave the message to all the other cats that this new one should be accepted.  It was amazing how he did this.  Not be being a fierce warrior but simply his presence, his regal bearing, conveyed the message.  It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in over 50 years of observing animals.

A story in memory of Mikey: A Gifford resident from 1990-2005 and still just as much loved and remembered.  He was probably over 20.  I miss him still.Thank you for all of your hard work at Gifford.  I hope life gives you a Mikey.


Minko’s TailIn the 1920’s Minko’s human grandmother camped in upstate NY with her brother, who loved rowboats, and was eventually given one as a gift. They named the boat, Michael Petrovic. And so the name stuck, 3 boats later. When Minko’s pet parent’s brother was born, it was too difficult to pronounce, “Michael Petrovic,” and so the name of “Minko” came into existence.

Minko’s pet parent has heard that story of how that name came to be over and over again since she was a child; however, their family never had cats only dogs. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Minko’s owner, while staying in Israel, discovered an abundance of feral cats. She was so desperate to reconnect with an animal that she fed and tamed at least 5 of them. This would be the turning point in her and her parents’ life with felines. She and her family enjoyed 6 cats until their return to the U.S. 6 years later.

Three grey and white tuxedo cats and an empty house later, she visited the Gifford Cat Shelter. She sat down on a bench to speak with “Coffee” and all of a sudden, something jumped up next to her.  She turned around and there was “Berlin”—this big black cat flopped on his side looking at- and listening to her.  Her friend said, “Jul, that guy has been tailing you, so-to-speak, ever since we came in here.”  Of course, she began to pet him and talk to him.  Then he jumped off the bench and she saw that he listed a bit to one side, his head was tipped, and his tail resembled a plume or as I described it, a wayward pony tail!!!  (“Minko” is unable to get his tail to stand up straight—ever!) This was attributed to a neurological issue, but it did not curtail any of his activities.   “Berlin” was a sweetheart and the volunteers loved him.  She then exclaimed, “I’ll take that cat!!!”

Two weeks after “Minko” moved in with her, he awakened his owner late at night by jumping and throwing himself against her.  She HAD to get up and follow him.  She went to the kitchen and immediately smelled gas.  She had inadvertently left a burner on low and the flame had gone out.  “Minko” saved both of their lives!!!

Now that “Minko” and his new parent have been roomies for two years, so many people have told her how their family ONLY adopts black cats—due to their dispositions!!!  She hates to generalize, but there have been so many individuals attesting to this, she must believe there is a grain of truth in it. “ Minko”  made her a firm believer!!!  He is her sweet black velvet cat.


Luis’s Story

I’m a failed foster mom and have two Gifford cats.  One is Luis (Bear) found in Lowell as a tiny kitten. I knew someone from my vet’s office seeking a Bengal or Bengal looking cat.  So Bear, renamed Luis, lived with him and his cat Cara until an emergency caused him to bring both to Gifford where they stayed until the shelter closed for a total renovation.  Luis came home with me, a loving albeit a bit wild boy who got along with my others. Eventually a permanent home was found for him with a couple who had lost their cat and fell in love with Luis from his Petfinder photo. We all met, decided on an adoption date which took place at 10 PM one night.  I was teary, they were thrilled. A few hours later my phone rang.  The new adopter said as a lawyer, he had to be in court early in the morning and this cat would not leave him alone, jumping on his head and just being Luis.  So he brought him back at 5 AM, and we have lived together for years with Luis  often sleeping on my head and purring all night plus every evening he sits facing me as I watch tv or read and, being right pawed, he strokes my left cheek.   What a lucky pair!


Story of Sunny & Windy (a.k.a Gandalf & Ferrous)

It’s been just about a year since we brought home Gandalf (Windy) and Ferrous (Sunny) so it seems a good time to send you an update.

Gandalf is a big mush.  I’ve never known a cat who so loved to have his belly rubbed.  When he hops up on the couch, he immediately rolls over in a most undignified pose.  Every morning, he runs in front of me to go down the stairs (I’m certain my death will be a result of tripping on him) and races across the house to remain right in front of my ankles at all times.   It took him a long time to get the hang of getting on and off the couch, and he’s still clumsy about getting into certain places, but it’s all part of his fluffy charm. He loves to be brushed (which is a good thing! he needs it!), and is very good about having his claws clipped. He’s still shy around strangers, but if there’s only one or two people over, he’ll eventually come investigate and may even allow someone to scritch and pet him.  In general, he looks all regal and proud, but he’s really a big goofball. He loves to talk, and will even be heard meowing to himself from the other end of the house.  He purrs easily and is a very cuddly lovey boy.

Ferrous has taken longer to come out of his shell, and continutes to take baby steps. It’s only in the past couple months we’ve been able to pet him easily, but now he regularly comes looking for attention. He’s recently started to come around when his brother is getting brushed, and tells us he’d like some brushing too, please. Just this week, he’s learning to hop up on the couch at our invitation. He’s been known to stay there for a while with one of us, but he’s not quite a cuddler yet; I think he’ll get there soon. He loves to sit on our porch and watch the birds in the backyard.  He’s generally more graceful than his brother, but still falls off the chair if he’s rolling around and not paying attention. He’s unbelievably fast: when we brought them to the vet last February, we warned to tech that Ferrous would run;  the tech waved off our concerns until we opened the crate and Ferrous shot out and bounced around the room like a pinball. It’s quite impressive. We don’t know what it is about Ferrous, but there’s something about him that is absolutely adorable, even when he’s not doing anything in particular. He almost never meows…except at the birds.

They are mighty bug-hunters (they caught a house fly yesterday!), and while we’ve never had a mouse problem in this house, I suspect we never will as long as these two are around. With us, they’re very gentle; they’ve never intentionally clawed or tried to bite.   They have a thing about being underneath rugs; our kitchen rug is almost always a bunched up mess in the morning. We have pieces of fleece on the furniture so they can be there without getting cat fur everywhere, but they prefer to be under the fleece instead of on top of it.  Neither of them is interested in cardboard boxes or paper bags, which is basially unheard of in the world of cats. The two of them continue to love to play and wrestle together and provide us with hours of entertainment.  We laugh every day.





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7 Responses to Happy Tails

  1. Rick Nicholson says:

    It is almost 1 year since I adopted “Liberty”.He has been a dream and has become a true companion. From day 1 he has felt comfortable in the house and now is the King of the house.He spends his days in the windows,playing with toys and sleeping on all the beds And frequently puts his head on the pillow! He loves his head rubbed and is always around where the action is.
    Thank you Debbie and Liberty says meow to all at Gifford

    • Alissa says:

      Liberty was living in the same room as Gandalf and Ferrous, and he kept trying to get into our carriers. He was so sweet and friendly, we nearly wound up taking home a third cat that day. But we were sure someone would fall in love with him and take him home. So glad to know he’s doing well!

  2. Celia Moses says:

    We got our Cat Suzie aka Crepe Suzette from Gifford in 12/2011 and she has been a great cat and wonderful as a companion pet. I as advised by my friends to get a young adult rather than kitten because adult cats have a more fixed personality and are easier to care for then a young kitten.
    She adjusted within a few days to her new home and seemed very happy to have a forever home. We have had no “cat” problems with her such as problems using not her litter box, waking us up or damaging furniture. She greets me in the morning, When n I can home, I will hear her meowing before I open the door. Then she will jump on a chair and sometimes she gives me nose kiss. She has her version of a family meal where she will eat, then come on my lap and sit and purr and then go back to her food to eat some more.
    Both me and my husband are crazy about her.

  3. Nancy nicholson says:

    Well today I attended the Fall Festival to benefit the Gifford Shelter and it was a great time. It was officially 1 year since I adopted “Tabby” from the shelter and I can honestly say it has been more than I could of hoped for.The satisfaction of giving a homeless cat a good,loving home is a reward I receive everyday with the gentle meow and rub by my leg from my “forever friend”. I am very happy with my cat I am drawn to the Shelter and try to support their efforts so every cat can have a happy life.Keep up the good work Gifford and I will continue to spread the word!

  4. Christina says:

    Windy and Sunny were the first kitties I got to work with when volunteering at the shelter. Believe it or not, both were TERRIFIED of people. For weeks I spent trying to trick them into letting me get close to them. I used the ribbon wand to get them playing and make them forget how close I was. I would try to just touch their paw, just a for a moment. I got scratched a few times for my efforts. Windy came around first, and it was literally overnight that he became a ridiculous velcro cat. I remember remarking about how he let me touch his paws without a care in the world after he came around. And Sunny was always the sweetest cat with all other cats in the shelter. I knew he and windy were a great match together, because there was no way someone could deal with 2 Windys at once.

  5. Joan says:

    Gifford is THE place to adopt. In addition to tending to all their health needs, the staff carefully observes and socializes the cats so they know how well a cat will get along with other cats/pets/humans which makes it more likely that your adoptee will do well in your home. While waiting for adoption, the cats live in much less stressful conditions than your average shelter.

    I adopted Lily (aka Tilly), a beautiful Tuxedo, from Gifford 6 years ago. She started life as a frightened, feral kitten. She’d lived at Gifford for 11 months because she was so shy around humans that she would hide when potential adopters visited. The people at Gifford worked patiently with her during those months and had faith in her.

    Over the time she has lived with me and my other cat, she has blossomed in to an affectionate, confident cat. She loves to sit on my lap, be petted, and be brushed. Her tail vibrates with happiness with any attention from me — she’s a real lovebug!

  6. Grace says:

    I think Mikey won’t have died if he went to Illinois. I’ve heard several stories of cat dying soon after the disappearance of their beloved person. Cat and human connection may be deeper than we human can ever know.

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