Shelter & Rescue Spotlight: Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society
It was Shiloh’s eyes that stole Nancy’s heart. “She was a beautiful kitten, with beautiful eyes, that deserved every chance at a better life.”
Others may not have been so patient.
When Nancy first found the kitten, Shiloh was part of a feral cat colony living in the wooded area behind her apartment complex. Last October, Nancy—a volunteer at the Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society in East Brunswick, New Jersey—and her neighbor Carol organized a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) project.
The TNR program is a big part of Karma Cat + Zen Dog Society’s efforts. This year, they’ve already vetted and returned 58 cats back into their colonies. It’s often a heartbreaking process. They wish every cat could be placed in a home with a loving family, but the truth is, some feral cats are too wild and cannot be domesticated. Returning them to their colony—spayed or neutered, and with a clean bill of health from the vet—is a better option than leaving the cat in a cage or kennel for the rest of its life.
Enter Shiloh. The wild child. Among the feral cats captured behind Nancy and Carol’s apartment complex were two white kittens with a few tabby stripes. The male—named Scotty—was playful and full of personality from the start. Shiloh, on the other hand, was hissing and spitting at anyone that came close. Still, there was something about her multi-colored eyes—one green and yellow and the other blue—that pulled Nancy in. She was determined to make Shiloh her first foster.
It wasn’t all belly rubs and purrs. Shiloh wasn’t friendly toward Nancy or her cats. Nancy set up a large cage in her apartment, and went back to square one.
“I just had a feeling that with a little more attention, and working with her in the cage, she could be someone’s pet,” she says. “In the beginning, I had to keep her in the cage and she had to come get her food while I was right there. She learned to trust my touch.”
Shiloh slowly began to warm up, and with her new attitude came a little more freedom from the cage. She started to play with Nancy’s other cats. When she thought Shiloh was ready for her “Forever Home”, Nancy took her to one of the Rescue Society’s adoption centers in a local pet store, but it was too loud and busy. The music, barking dogs, and constant exposure were too stressful for the still-fearful cat, and Nancy decided to take Shiloh to the Rescue Society’s smaller adoption facility, the Edgebrook Adoption Center, where she would be free to roam and play with other cats or spend time on her own.
And the eyes saved her again.
When Erin, another Karma Cat + Zen Dog volunteer first saw Shiloh, she was hiding on top of the cat suites and swatted when she tried to pet her. Even so, Erin was drawn to her unique features and eyes. (Erin calls them her “anime characteristics”).
Erin already had two cats, Pippin and Bunny. “I really thought, ok two is a perfect number… they are totally different personalities, I am set! Then I moved and got a better job, and the idea that I could definitely afford to take in another kitty sort of came into my head. What’s three hilarious, stinky balls of fur when you already have two?”
Volunteering with Karma Cat + Zen Dog helped quench her kitten fever by letting her play with cats every week, but she still wanted to give another cat a forever home. “I felt that I was a perfect candidate for one of the many nervous cats that maybe wouldn’t meet the expectations of a first-time cat owner… but who just needed to be given some time to shine, and be loved no matter what.”
In the midst of the swats and hisses, Erin was able to sneak in a back scratch, and Shiloh started to purr. When she left the adoption center, Shiloh—“Shy Shy”, as Erin affectionately calls her—was all she could think about. She knew she would bring her home.
Shy Shy warmed up almost immediately when she came into Erin’s home. There were still moments of “fight or flight” when there was a sudden noise, or someone was coming toward her, but she is becoming more comfortable with her surroundings every day.
“She has really opened up and is such a goofy little girl. I think she knows I will love her no matter what,” Erin says. “Shy is a perfect lesson in how important it is to throw away any expectations you have for how life will work out, and to care for something or someone with no judgments.”
A home with two happy cats has become a home with three. Pippin is the queen who runs the whole show. Bunny is the loving lap cat. And now there’s quirky little Shy Shy—who jumps on the bed and lies close for a pet on the head, and who loves having her back scratched while she eats dinner so much that she stands on her tippy toes and touches her head with her tail.
Shiloh is thankful for her home. Erin is thankful for Nancy, who rescued her newest family member. And everyone is thankful for one beautiful cat with two different colored eyes, whose love and affection is worth all of the patience and work it took to earn.
The mission of the Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society is to provide a safe and peaceful haven for homeless, abandoned, or abused animals. They work hard to decrease the number of cats and dogs being destroyed in kill shelters by implementing foster, spay/neuter, trap-neuter-return, and educational programs. To find out more about Karma Cat + Zen Dog or donate to their mission, visit their website or find them on Facebook.