Furr-Ever Thankful Series- Featuring: Rusty

By: Holly Crotty, TAPS Executive Director

I don’t know how Rusty originally came to TAPS shelter but he was adopted to a family in 2006.  Rusty was a member of their family for 11 years until his adoptive father passed away and his adoptive mother was moved into a nursing home.  Rusty was surrendered back to TAPS on October 3, 2017.  

Rusty is a special needs cat and unfortunately, special needs cats aren’t easy to adopt out with so many cats readily available in shelters, rescues, strays, and social media.  Rusty requires daily insulin and prescription food to stabilize his blood sugar.  Because of his special needs, when he first came in, he couldn’t be free roam in a cat room so the staff started to let him roam the shelter while they cleaned.  Eventually, he became our shelter cat.  Rusty roams the shelter during the day and has a special room where he’s tucked away in overnight.  Thanks to a special volunteer, our special needs cats now have feeders that are specific to their microchips so they can live in our smaller open cat rooms rather than being kenneled.  

Rusty has probably been the most impacted by the pandemic more so than any other animal here at the shelter.  Rusty had a routine that involved interacting with our front desk volunteers each day.  He received turkey for lunch on Tuesday’s with Wendy.  He would lay on the back of the chair while Phyllis perched on the edge of the seat returning phone calls.  On Thursday’s, he would lay be the phone while Martha returned phone calls.  He would sleep on the phone and on the keyboard on other days.   At one point, we had to put his picture on the open cat room doors and ask our visitors not to let him into the rooms.  He liked to make them think he escaped the room and wanted back in so they happily obliged.  He wanted into the cat rooms to sneak cat food.     Since quarantine, Rusty makes his regular rounds of the shelter and then makes his way back to his bed to snooze for the day.  If we bring in breakfast, Rusty can smell bacon or sausage and will end up on our desks manipulating us for food.  At lunch time, Rusty sits on the break room table staring down staff while they eat.  

Rusty does not like dogs so he has to be closed up in his room when dogs are in the front part of the shelter.  We learned this the hard way when he was snoozing in the lobby on the t-shirt shelves.  A family was in to adopt a Great Pyrenees and had the dog in the lobby.  Rusty woke up out of a sound sleep, jumped off the shelf and right onto the back of the dog.  Thankfully, the Great Pyrenees was afraid of Rusty and we were able to quickly intervene.  Now, when he’s closed into his room, we try to avoid eye contact with him as he stares us down and meows.   He doesn’t really want out, he just wants to make us feel bad.   As soon as we open his door, he makes his shelter rounds and goes back to sleep.  

Rusty is truly part of the TAPS family.  After 3 years at the shelter, we like to think he sees us as family too.  At 13, his dislike for dogs, need for daily insulin and prescription food, his adoption applications are few and far between.  Most likely, Rusty will live out the remainder of his life here at TAPS but he is well loved and cared for here.  In reality, it’s Rusty’s shelter, and we are lucky we get to share it with him…and for that I give thanks.  

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