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Norwich Bulletin - 4/8/2007

The Story of Leo

Sometimes we truly are guided by a higher power and this wonderful story that I am sharing with you this Easter Sunday is one of those small miracles that always happen and we seldom hear about.

I happened to be at a city shelter taking in some hard to place cats when the officer I was working with mentioned that a young blue eyed white Turkish Angora had been brought in as an owner surrender. I explained that this breed needs a specific kind of home and that they will also become very depressed (more so than the average cat) if they are caged for any amount of time. So Helping Paws paid the adoption fee and took this young cat into our care.

The paperwork said his name was Leo. He lived in our kitten room where he could be free during the day and he was caged in a very large walk in at night because he had been able to cower my two males within a few minutes of meeting them and that is their sleeping quarters. I put him on the Helping Paws and Petfinder website and knew I would be inundated with calls within the next few days.

And of course, I was. I chose a young couple who had lost their fifteen year old Turkish Angora a month ago and were grieving. He would be an only pet and they were going to drive up from New York City over the weekend to pick him up. Because of the snow that weekend, they were unable to make it. But they took a day off of work the following week and made the trek up to my home in Colchester to meet Leo. They spent an hour with him and they fell in love. And yet, they told my husband that something wasn't right and they didn't feel like they were supposed to take him. The wife cried as she left our home, but they followed their feelings and left alone.

Shortly after they left we received a phone call from a woman that insisted Leo was her cat. I patiently explained that he was an owner surrender to a particular shelter and there was so much detail as to what he liked and his personality that he could not be her cat. But Veronica was insistent that she come and see him. She lived near the shelter and as she said, how many Turkish Angoras are named Leo (a name her daughter had given the cat).

She told me that there had been visitors to her home who had a child that opened the door and let Leo out. For weeks they combed their neighborhood, knocking on doors, putting up signs and berating themselves for not having had their cat microchipped. Eventually they became resolved to the fact that Leo most likely had lost his life due to a coyote or fox, as they had woods all around them. And they grieved for their young cat.

He had a red collar on his neck with a little heart that said Leo – he loved water, was very dominant to other animals, enjoyed bossing the dogs around and begging for treats. Everything she told me was what I had read in the paperwork from the shelter. Although completely skeptical I was leaning towards ending the conversation until she told me that she had started looking on line again when she had a dream the previous night. Leo was there and told her he was living in a room and sometimes he was free but at other times he was in a big white cage. I admit I was a bit nonplussed at that and made an appointment for her to come to the house that night.

When Veronica and her daughter arrived at my home they wanted to go right into the room to see Leo. She opened the door and the cat looked up. She squealed “lee-lee” and the cat came running to her. There was no doubt that this was her Leo. Amid many tears (hers and mine) we tried to piece together what may have happened.

Did someone who knew the cat find him and decide to keep him or was it a stranger who saw an incredibly beautiful cat and decided to just keep him – ignoring that red collar with his name engraved in a heart? Turkish Angoras are not for everyone. They shed, they are in your face, demanding and if the people had other animals, they definitely had a problem if they were not used to handling a dominant cat. My guess is that after a month they realized that as wonderful as Leo was, he was not a cat for them. Because so much time had gone by, they probably were too embarrassed to try and find his owner and took him to the nearest shelter. And the powers that be sent me to the shelter that day, which started everything happening.

Veronica is going to have Leo microchipped so this never happens again (this all would have been avoided because shelters scan for chips). She is also going to go on mission to find out who turned Leo into the shelter. Meanwhile, she is certain that Leo found a way to communicate with her, which started her searching again throughout the internet, ending up at my door.

Everyone played a part in Leo finding his home again, including the very nice New York couple who did not know why they were not supposed to take him home. Of course I called them and told them Leo's story which made them very happy. So, these people will get a wonderful cat from me, Veronica made a donation to Helping Paws, and Leo is spending Easter Sunday safe and sound with his real family.

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