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Years before Project Fetch was initiated, people would sometimes bring a cat or dog to Animal Humane from a shelter outside of Albuquerque. Tom was one of these cats. He came as a stray to the Valencia County shelter, where a volunteer noticed him because he was so sweet and people-oriented. She decided to bring Tom to Animal Humane with the thought that he would find a home more quickly in Albuquerque.

As luck would have it, I was volunteering in the Animal Humane cattery on the right Sunday.  A long time Animal Humane employee, James Bonecutter, brought Tom into the cattery from the intake area.  Once in his new cage, Tom proceeded to eat his entire bowl of dry cat food. “Wow,” I thought, “this cat must be very hungry.” So I gave him a bit more dry food, which he also ate.  At that point, I decided to get him out and brush him since eating too much all at once didn’t seem like a good idea. He loved being brushed and had a very loud purr. What a sweet cat he was!

Several days later Tom was transferred to the Animal Humane adoption center at PetSmart on Eubank to look for his new family. One day, a week or so after first seeing Tom, my partner Kay and I were driving along Eubank when she asked me if I wanted to drop in at PetSmart to see how Tom was doing.  I had told her all about Tom and what a great cat he was.  We went into PetSmart only to realize that the adoption center was not open that day. We peeked through the window and could see that Tom was not a happy cat. His head was hanging down and his ears were flat. Clearly he did not feel well.

In those days, Animal Humane did not have the veterinary or fostering resources it has now. We feared that Tom was doomed. Kay asked me, “What should we do?” We decided to adopt Tom. We called Animal Humane and a staff member came over to PetSmart to fill out the adoption paperwork. We left with Tom in a carrier and took him directly to our veterinarian who determined that he had URI and ear mites. We nursed him back to health over the next couple of weeks.  Once healthy, it was clear that Tom had a self-assured manner, loved attention from people and was confident around dogs and other cats.  Tom’s extroverted nature makes him the official greeter when the doorbell rings.

Tom’s sweet nature also made him a natural as a therapy cat. When Animal Humane received a request for a cat to visit a woman nearing the end of her life, I volunteered Tom. I knew he would not be afraid in the new setting. In fact, he was very sweet and loving to her, and subsequently the woman asked to see a kitten! According to the woman’s daughter, seeing and petting felines over the next few weeks helped to extend this woman’s life several additional months.

Over the years Kay and I have fostered many cats, kittens and dogs, and invariably Tom steps in to show them the way things work at our house. Tom has been a “big brother” to numerous foster kittens. A notable kitten, Orbit, is now a beloved member of Animal Humane Executive Director Donna Stumpf’s family.

Because Tom is not afraid of dogs, he has often been used as a “test cat” to see if a dog would be friendly to cats.  He’s also good with little children.  This has been great since we moved to Houston to be near Kay’s grandchildren.

In April Tom will be 14 years old. He still is his same sweet self, chatting with our housekeeper, helping the plumber and electrician when they come to make repairs, and of course greeting and entertaining of dinner guests.  His appetite is still hearty, and his favorite activities in his golden years are naps in the sun and binge watching Netflix with his humans.

We’ll always be grateful to Animal Humane for helping save our Tommy.  We absolutely adore him!

-Carolyn Levy