Last October, Gabrielle L.’s beloved cat, O’Reily, a black-and-white tuxedo cat adopted as a kitten from the ASPCA, passed away just before his 14th birthday.
“I was so devastated and made a vow to myself that next time I adopted a cat, I’d get an older cat, maybe one with ongoing health concerns,” Gabrielle says. “That was always in the back of my head.”
Gabrielle filled out an adoption application on the ASPCA website for a cat.
When the ASPCA contacted Gabrielle to follow up on her application, only one cat, an 11-year-old tortoiseshell cat named Rocky, was available. Rocky had a heart murmur, but it had been assessed as a low risk for future heart disease. Rocky was also missing all her teeth but two, but she could eat without any problem.
Megan Flores, an ASPCA Matchmaker, arranged a Zoom® call so Gabrielle could meet Rocky virtually.
“I felt like she was meant for me,” says Gabrielle, who adopted Rocky on November 12. “O’Reily was—and Rocky is—such a sweetheart. That really says something about the ASPCA. I’ve been blessed with sweeties.”
Connecting with a Foster Caregiver
Rocky was relinquished to Animal Care Centers of NYC’s Manhattan location last May through the city’s COVID-19 Pet Hotline.
Her former caretaker suffered from COVID-19, and Rocky was admitted to the ASPCA for emergency boarding. While there have been no documented cases of household pets transmitting COVID-19 to people, Rocky was quarantined for 14 days before being placed with a foster caregiver, Jonas P. of Brooklyn.
Jonas grew up with cats in his native Belgium, and when he moved to New York City in the summer of 2019 as an international student at New York University, his roommates were fostering kittens. Once the pandemic hit, Jonas decided to foster a cat himself.
Once he signed up, Rocky was assigned to Jonas “fairly quickly.” He cared for her for three months.
“She was easy-going, although the first night I didn’t sleep at all,” Jonas recalls. “She was under the bed and then climbed up during the night and wanted me to pet her. She was extremely affectionate.”
Rocky was Jonas’ first foster experience, and one he’d gladly repeat.
“I 100% recommend it,” he says. “It’s the perfect compromise if you don’t know if you want an animal full-time or not. If you don’t know where you are in life, fostering helps you think about what it’s like to take on a pet.”
Jonas admits he bonded with Rocky and “cried a little bit” on his way home after dropping Rocky off at the ASPCA. He knows he will be moving soon, so he can’t take on a pet permanently.
“I know what I signed up for,” he says. “It was nice to care for Rocky. Doing so helped her, and it helped me, too.”
Rocky’s New Residence
At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Rocky was fostered by Cynthia Thrash, Director of Animal Welfare, until Gabrielle formally adopted her.
Gabrielle placed all of Rocky’s belongings—her bed, scratching post, and litter box—inside the walk-in closet of her South Brooklyn apartment. But soon, Rocky was exploring the whole house.
“She’s fearless,” says Gabrielle. “By the end of the day, she had found my bed and was curled up in it.”
Rocky, who turned 12 on May 15, can still be anxious at times, but Gabrielle, a life-long cat lover, gives her lots of attention.
“Rocky is very communicative and purrs a lot. If she doesn’t want to be petted, she’ll let me know in a non-threatening way,” says Gabrielle.
An executive assistant at a financial firm, Gabrielle has worked from home since March 2020.
“I work all day and play with Rocky in the evenings,” says Gabrielle, who enjoys the benefits of having an older pet.
“There’s no training like with a kitten, and they’re such mature companions. Rocky has so much love to give. She’s grown into a wonderful, lovely little lady.”
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