Pet ‘Net Family Event 2010 – Shelter Pets: Friends “FUR-ever”

Last year I participated in a wonderful event called the Pet ‘Net Family Event. I am proud to participate in the event again this year.

There are several fabulous sites that are also participating including Animal Planet and Martha Stewart’s site The Daily Wag, to name a few.

To check out all the participating sites and to read their amazing posts please click on the Pet ‘Net Family Event button found at the top of this post or you can visit www.Petside.com/Pet-Net-Family.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for animals. Even looking back at my earliest childhood memories we had a pet, a dog name Dutchess. At one point in my life my family had three dogs, a horse, two birds, three cats, seven hamsters and a tank full of fish. It comes as no surprise that growing up I wanted to be a vet or a farmer. Even today, decades later, I would still love to have a farm full of animals.

When my husband and I first got married fourteen years ago we didn’t have any pets. We were newly weds and just getting used to married life. Shortly thereafter our daughter was born. Even though I had a beautiful daughter and a loving husband I still had a empty spot in my heart that needed to be filled. I needed to have a pet to add to our family.

Over the years all our dogs and cats that my family owned were adopted shelter animals. When it came time to finally add a four-legged member to our family I knew we had to visit the shelter.

My husband and I made several trips to the local animal shelter. As much as I wanted to take all of the animals home with me I just didn’t find the one pet that I had a connection to.

One day I payed a visit to the animal shelter on my own. I was in the back where they kept the cats. The cages will filled with eligible cats and kittens. Adopting a kitten would have been the obvious choice. Most people want the kittens. I have to admit that I looked at the kittens too.

In the first cage there was a HUGE gray cat. He was about 6 years old and must weighed close to 20 pounds. There was just something about him that kept me looking over at his cage instead of the kittens.

I asked one of the shelter workers if I could hold the big gray cat. They said it was OK. The moment I opened the cage this huge gray cat jumped out and crawled up on my shoulder. He kept rubbing his face against my face and purring very loudly. It was love at first sight! 

Later on in the day my husband came with me and our daughter to check out the big gray cat the shelter had named Pixie. Pixie was a MALE cat! My husband knew I had found the right cat for our family and shortly there after Pixie joined our family. We never did change his name. Even though he was a 20 pound male cat we thought Pixie was catchy.

Pixie lived another five years with our family before passing away in his sleep one night.

About a year after we adopted Pixie our downstairs neighbor had a litter of kittens in his home. The mother cat was a feral cat that lived in our complex. She gave birth to a litter of kittens on his balcony underneath his barbecue. Knowing that feral cats were hard to handle he immediately took the kittens into his home and handled them from the day they were born. He would let the mother cat in his home to nurse the kittens but then he would chase her out because she was a wild cat and not very nice either.

When the kittens were old enough our neighbor did all he could to find them all homes. He opted to keep one for himself. Sadly he couldn’t find  a home for one of the kittens, a cute little orange and white male. My husband, knowing how much I loved animals and how I had been talking about getting a friend for Pixie, adopted the kitten from our neighbor.

The new kitten was the cutest little fuzzy ball. He had the sweetest little face. There was one thing about him that we were not keen on and that was how he would literally attach himself to the side of the couch. We had to constantly peel him from the furniture. In gest I said it sounded like Velcro being peeled apart. From that moment on our new family member was named Velcro.

Velcro is about 9 years old now. His nickname is “Speed Bump”. He’s the least active cat out of all our cats. He’s super sweet but very shy. He’s afraid of his own shadow! Once he wouldn’t come out of hiding for three days and we didn’t know why. I turns out he was terrified of my daughter’s balloon that was hanging up in the kitchen. Once we removed the balloon he was fine.

Velcro does like to “stalk” me at night. There are times when I am walking across the room at night getting ready to crawl into bed when Velcro would spring out at me and grab my leg. He ALWAYS surprises me! He may be huge but he’s as quiet as a church mouse.

When Pixie passed away we felt it was only fair to get Velcro a friend so my family and I headed back to the animal shelter. This time around the selection was easy. One of the first kittens we saw was a beautiful Calico. She was so pretty that the shelter made her Pet of the Week and put her picture in the paper. The article didn’t even run in the paper by the time we adopted her. She was just too pretty and there was something special about her. We heard from the shelter that many people came in looking to adopt her but it was too late. She already had her “Fur-ever home”.

We asked our daughter and son to name the newest addition to our family. Our son wanted to name her Bear after his plush cat that he took with him everywhere. Our daughter wanted to name her Kitty. Some how our daughter won out. We named the new kitten Kitty.

Kitty is still a beautiful cat. She has the most amazing colorings. People always comment on how pretty she is.

Kitty is the most social out of all our cats. Whenever a stranger comes into our home Kitty is the first to greet them. I’m pretty sure the plumber doesn’t really like a cat rubbing up against him when he’s trying to work. Ha Ha.

Kitty loves to be the center of attention. She also has some very strange “quirks”. Aside from chewing on wires (ugh!) she also loves to chew on things like tape and window clings (those decorative clings you put on windows for the holidays). She also loves to lick windows and the side of the bathtub if she gets into the bathroom. I have to hide my tape in a freezer bag in the pantry so that she doesn’t get to it. I used to keep it in the cubbies on my desk but she would go on my desk at night and find the tape. I’d wake up in the morning with chewed tape all over the place.

A few years later we were at the animal shelter just visiting. We usually visit the shelter at least once a month to socialize with all the animals and to let them know that someone DOES care about them. We usually bring treats too.

We were not looking for another cat. We were just there for a normal visit however this time there were two kittens in a cage in the lobby, one of which really stood out to me. There was nothing extraordinary about her. She and I just seemed to have a “connection”. Oddly enough my husband and kids were on the same page. There was just something about this one kitten that really stood out to us.

Unfortunately there was another lady there who was also interested in the same two kittens. She had the shelter worker give her the kitten that my family wanted. We waiting patiently for her to play with the kitten and interact with her. The whole time I kept saying a little prayer under my breath that she opted not to adopt THAT kitten. My prayer was answered because the lady asked for the other kitten. As soon as the worker put our kitten back in the cage we asked to see her. The moment she was handed over to us we knew we had to add her to our family.

The newest kitten we named Padmé (pronounced Pad-May). She was named after a Star Wars character.

There was no denying that Padmé was my cat. She was ALWAYS on me. She would sit on my shoulder when I worked at my desk. Or she would sit on my lap when I was seated in a chair. At night she would curl herself up inside my hair! She was ALWAYS in my hair. I was afraid she would get caught in my hair.

For some reason Padmé has always been attached to me. Even now she still sleeps with me at night, although she stays next to me or at the foot of the bed. She’s too big to curl up into my hair. She also loves to climb up on to my shoulder, however she’s a good 20 pounds these days and has much sharper nails then she did as a kitten. I have marks all over my back from her attempts to climb up on to my shoulder.

No matter where I go Padmé is there. Its like she’s my shadow. I find it funny because I never treated her any differently then I did our other cats.

I guess that expression “Cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one” is true because some how we ended up adding another cat to our family a year after Padmé. Once again we were at the shelter and we were not looking for a cat. We had three already. However we came across a very spunky male kitten on one of our visits. He was a burst of energy. In fact he was very comical. We found him to be very entertaining to watch as he bounced around his cage with his brothers and sisters. To this day I don’t know how it happened but we ended up adopting him.

The new kitten was names Anakin, after another Star Wars character. Even though he’s a boy we call him “Annie”.

Anakin is still full of energy. He’s three years old now but you would think he was still a kitten the way he races around our home.

Anakin is a very loving cat but he loves to chase the girl cats around the house and get into a tussle with them. Recently he scratched Padmé in the eye during one of their many “play-fights”.

Anakin doesn’t meow. He chirps. Its the funniest thing. Its almost as if he’s talking to you. He also hates it when I sneeze. If anyone else sneezes it doesn’t phase him. When I sneeze he runs over to me and starts chirping. Its the weirdest thing! I don’t know why. I don’t think I sneeze that funny.

Anakin once caught a bird on our balcony and brought it in our home. It was a bit of a rude awakening for me when my husband woke me up around 5 AM one morning to tell me that cat had a bird and was chasing it around our house. Thankfully I was able to rescue the little bird, which was fine, and flew away as soon as I got it back outside.

In less then 10 years we went from having now pets to a big family of four cats. It was a full house to say the least.

The idea of having a dog was something we never considered. We live on the top floor balcony, have two children and four cats. Why would we bring a dog into the mix?

We visit the shelter monthly and they rarely have puppies. If they do they are gone – literally – by the end of the day. The only time we see puppies stick around a bit longer is if they are Pitt Bulls or Pitt Bull mixes.

One day we took our son to the shelter while our daughter was at a birthday party. We felt sorry for him that he couldn’t go to the party. Knowing how much he loved animals we figured he’d like to visit the dogs and cats at the shelter.

To our surprise there was about a half dozen puppies at the shelter. They were some kind of a Rat Terrier or Jack Russell Terrier mix. They were super cute too!

It was a very rash decision but we decided to adopt one of the puppies on the spot. We figured we might never have a chance again to adopt a puppy so why not jump on the opportunity. Besides, the puppies were going to be small enough dogs so we didn’t have to worry about making room for a large dog.

All of the puppies pretty much looked the same. They were all brown with short hair and the typical terrier face. All but one. One of the puppies was VERY different then the others. He had long hair and was white with spots. He looked exactly like a rolly poly baby Panda Bear. He didn’t look like a puppy.

We asked our son which puppy he wanted to have. Right away he said he wanted the white puppy with the spots. We have to admit he was incredibly adorable.

The shelter worker actually advised us NOT to get the hairy puppy. He said the grooming bills alone would be a lot. He tried to encourage us to take one of the siblings. I have to admit the idea of spending a small fortune on a groomer was a concern but there was no changing our son’s mind. The hairy puppy was his choice.

I have to admit our puppy was the cutest little puppy I have ever seen. He had a fat belly and he loved to lie on his back with his legs straight out. I wish I could find the pictures. He used to sleep in the strangest positions.

My husband named our puppy. His name is Espn. Its pronounced “Es-Pin”. He was named after the Sports Channel. We do get a lot of remarks about his name. Most people love it. Some people think its dumb. One neighbor couldn’t even say it correctly. She used to call him Aspen.

What can I tell you about Espn? He’s a nutty little dog. He seriously thinks he’s a cat, and its no wonder. He has four feline siblings.

Espn and Anakin are only a few months apart in age (they are both 3+ years old). They are the best of friends, although Espn does get on Anakin’s nerves at times.

Espn LOVES to play. He would play all day and all night long if you let him. He has more toys then my kids do! I’m not kidding. He has his own “toy box” which is really a giant wicker basket which is literally overflowing with toys.

We’re convinced he thinks he’s a cat. He loves to play with cat toys. He loves to sleep on the cat’s beds. He gets excited when he sees a cat when he’s out for a walk, but nervous around other dogs. And oddly enough Espn LOVES catnip! If I give the cats any catnip or a catnip toy it’s Espn who usually takes it.

Grooming has been an issue with Espn, as we knew it would be. But it is not so bad. We take him to get groom about 4-5 times per day. We have a grooming kit for the home but we have yet to attempt to groom him on our own. We mostly just give him a trim in between grooming.

Espn is probably the world’s most spoiled dog. LOL!

There was one more adoption that happened about a year after we adopted Espn. One one of our trips to the shelter to visit the animals there was a hamster that was just dropped off that morning. The owner dropped her off in a FILTHY cage and the bag of food she left for the hamster had BUGS in it!

She was a tiny little hamster (I believe she was a Russian Dwarf). She was sickly when she arrived at the shelter, most likely due to the owners neglect. We asked the shelter if we could take her. They gave her to us for free because they knew she was sickly and they probably couldn’t adopt her out anyway. Who would want a sick hamster in a dirty cage with bugs?

We named the hamster Lucy. The day after we adopted her we went out and purchased her a brand new cage and all the fun accessories we could buy. Lucy was treated like a princess. She was very well loved and was happy in her beautiful new CLEAN home and fresh food.

Sadly Lucy only lived with us for four months before passing away. She must have had some kind of parasite that we were unaware of. We found her one morning covered in blood that was coming from her anal area. It had nothing to do with the cats. Lucy stayed in our kids room and the cats were not allowed in the room at night and the door was closed.

We could have easily tossed her body in the dumpster but I would never do that to a family member. Instead we took Lucy to the animal shelter and asked them to cremate her for us. Lucy ashes were released in the woods behind the animal shelter.

Our home is now filled with five furry, loving, happy, healthy four-legged family members. Each one came into our family under different circumstances. Each one had something special about them that we just knew they belonged with us. They have brought us many years of love, happiness and companionship. They will always be our “Fur-ever” friends and a special part of our family that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

Love and friendship doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. I know that some people are willing to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a pure bred, but if you can find an equally as amazing pet at your local animal shelter. There are so many wonderful animals of all different shapes and sizes anxiously waiting for a “Fur-ever” family to take them home.

If you have the room in your home and in your heart PLEASE consider adopting a shelter pet. Not only will it change their lives, but YOUR life too!

To find available pets in your area please visit your local animal shelter. You can also check out online sources like Pet Finder (www.PetFinder.com) or Adopt a Pet (www.AdoptaPet.com).

Animal shelters need your help. Please consider donation to your local animal shelter. Although monetary funds are always needed and appreciated there is so much more you can donate that would be equally as appreciated. Items like pet food, pet formula, blankets, sheets, towels, cleaning supplies, office supplies, toys and carriers are always welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read the story of how our pets came to be a part of our family. Please visit the other sites participating in the Pet ‘Net Family Event by visiting www.Petside.com/Pet-Net-Family. My post is probably the longest. I’m sure the other posts are not as winded as mine is. Ha Ha.


*I am participating in this campaign because I love animals. There is no compensation for this post.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Great post, Kimberly! I loved reading about all of your pets and the stories of how they came to your family. Where would we be without our furbabies? 🙂
    Caroline recently posted..The Things We Do For Love

  2. ShellieAndBrutus says:

    Love your post on your pets! The pictures are great!
    Happy Holidays!
    Shellie and Bruts the boxer