Tree House: Love in All the Right Places

Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody dared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down. - Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

In the spirit of the holidays, I decided to share my personal experience with our next featured organization. I'd also like to introduce you to my newest family member -- Johnny Guitar as he is known to the kindly folks at Tree House, or Bahi or Bagheera to his new forever family.

Bahi is an (approximately) 3 years old domestic short hair. He is black like the panther that inspired his (new) name with white patches on his chest and belly. He also has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a condition that causes a thickening of the heart walls. This condition can tax the heart, sometimes leading to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to the daily concern about his heart health, HCM also can cause blood clots, and decrease his general life span.

His age and his heart condition made it difficult for him to find a forever home; most adopters would prefer an adorable little kitten. It's similar to what happens in the human adoption world. Bahi had lived at Tree House for about six months when I stopped by for my visit. During my research about Tree House, I saw a blog featuring him as a wonderful guy in need of a forever home, and as soon as I saw his sweet face I knew I had to meet him. When I arrived he was sleeping in the sun by a window in the reception area. As excited as I was to meet him, he would not be bothered. It was almost like he knew that I was going to take him home and he was going to catch up on some sleep before the big upheaval.

After I spoke with Ollie Davidson, Tree House's director, I went on an amazing tour. I met so many potential family members with the sweetest, most curious, and sometimes mischievous personalities. Cats of all ages, sizes, and colors, but my heart was fixed on Bahi. I knew about his medical condition, for which he takes daily medication. He requires 1/2 a pill twice a day, he also receives an ultrasound once a year to check on the progression of his heart condition. (Good news: in the last six months there has been no progression.) Most importantly, he has the sweetest temperament, he loves water and to chat with us about whatever might be on our minds. He greets us with chatter, hugs, and headbutts. Just like with humans, Bahi doesn't want to be defined by his special needs, not as a cat that has HCM but as a really sweet, awesome cat that just happens to have HCM.

My mom says that she has never seen anyone who cares for their animal companions the way we do. They are pampered and adored and treasured. She was concerned about adopting a cat with a heart condition, not because of the amount of work (which is truly minimal, Bahi takes his tiny pill like a champ). She was afraid that if I lost him, I wouldn't be able to take it. The reality is that I know all about my boy's heart and so every day with him is an absolute treasure. We snuggle and chat and I tell him that he is loved and adored, because he deserves to be treated like the treasure that he is.

As I write this, Bahi is patrolling his new home, announcing to all that it's too late to still be sleeping. I think he knows that in reality our time here is short, so why waste it sleeping when we could be cuddling or mopping our faces with water from the sink.

Next week we will look in detail at all that Tree House does for its amazing residents and how you can help. In the meantime, there are lots of potential family members searching for forever homes. Check out their site here: www.treehouseanimals.org

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Filed under: Volunteerism

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