“More than a year ago, when I was struggling with my mental health, I took the leap to find an emotional support animal,” explains Lauren. “Scrolling one late night through Petfinder.com, I found Furry Friends and knew instantly that I was going to adopt from them.
“I was attracted to their ethos as a shelter and knew I wanted to support them. I reached out through email to ask about cats they believed might be a good match for me. While I was given several names, I was told that I would really like Boo, an 8-year-old black cat. Like a giddy, expectant parent, I kept staring at his profile, excited to meet him. When I did, it felt right. He was social, cuddly and mellow. He jumped on my lap, and a few chin scratches later, we clicked.
“His full name is Boo Thang Abbott. I kept his first name because I think it’s pretty cute and because he responds to it. I like to call him ‘my little boo thang’. Introducing him to my household was easy. I kept him in a room for an hour, but being naturally curious, all he wanted to do was explore. And that was exciting for both of us.
“I soon discovered, though, that whenever he was stressed, he sprayed. And learning that he had been returned to Furry Friends several times saddened me. I assumed it was due to his spraying, which only reinforced the bond we shared, since it outlasted the yards of plastic I kept lined against my wall and the gallons of enzyme cleaner I kept under my sink. Patience, pheromones and clicker training (I made using the litter box a positive experience by clicking and reinforcing with treats) did the trick.
“Seriously, Boo is more like a dog than a cat. And that was what most attracted me to him. Up until then, I had only owned dogs. Learning about Boo’s quirks was an absolute joy. I noticed how he became glued to the window watching the birds. So, during the warmer months, I worked on leash training him.
“He now balances his days between exploring the house, making certain he’s where the action is, and sleeping. He has a few regular spots, including my bed, typically used for his morning nap. Then he heads to the top of the couch for his mid-afternoon nap. After that, he plops himself down on any open lap.
“Looking back, at a time when I needed something or someone to be there, Boo came into the picture. I want to encourage more people to pay special attention to their own cats when a behavioral issue comes up. There’s no magic formula to resolving it, but simply giving up your family member is NOT the answer. Boo entered my life as the emotional support animal I needed; he just came with a few features I had to work out. And I did.”
Furry Friends Fur-Ever Stories are compiled and written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.