Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale

Whether you watched “Gilligan’s Island” when it originally aired or in reruns, you’re probably familiar with the seven endearing stranded castaways, including Thurston Howell III. The Dumb Friends League had a Thurston Howell III of its own. Human Thurston Howell was a 60 something millionaire, and ours was a 5-year-old domestic shorthair grey feline, one graduated from Harvard and the other from the League’s Feline Fortitude program (more about that later) and one slept with a teddy bear while the other had a penchant for a feather toy. When the weather started getting rough for the duo that shared a moniker, one landed on a deserted island and the other at the Quebec Street Shelter, and that’s where our tale begins.

Thurston Howell, the cat, came to the League as a transfer from one of our partners in 2016. The notes with the feline’s transfer said that he was fearful but tolerated handling and that he also had feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). While FIV did not define Thurston Howell (or any other cat for that matter), it meant he might be more susceptible to illnesses and may require some additional medical care in the future. (FIV positive cats like Thurston Howell can live long, happy lives.)

It didn’t take long for Thurston Howell to get adopted, but in February 2019, he was relinquished primarily due to soiling and a landlord’s ultimatum. Thurston Howell’s owner said that he was friendly and handleable although he “tussled” often with his feline sibling, and each cat would antagonize the other with hisses, growls and swats. Thurston Howell was an outdoor/indoor cat, and on one of his outside sojourns, he got into a fight with another cat, and his ear was injured.

While our fictional friend Thurston Howell led a rather comfortable life, our feline friend Thurston Howell had a more challenging experience. When Thurston Howell returned to the League, he needed dental attention, and our veterinarians extracted several teeth, some of which were broken at the gum line and others were chipped. He was also enrolled in the League’s Feline Fortitude Behavioral program, which uses positive reinforcement training to help cats overcome challenges such as fear, overstimulation, body handling issues or frustration. By the end of his session, Thurston Howell was relaxed, enjoyed pets and chin scratches and purred … loudly. The now very sociable cat was ready to find a loving home where he would get lots of playtime and love—and be an only pet or live with another FIV cat.

In March 2019, Caitlin was struggling with the death of her beloved Kitty to a heart condition, and she did not think she would ever be able to love another animal again coupled with the fear of something terrible and unexpected happening again to a new companion. With time, however, Caitlin was ready to adopt, and she popped on the League’s website.

“I was drawn to Thurston Howell’s scruffy appearance,” said Caitlin. “I had been keeping an eye on the adoptable pet section of the website and knew that he had been in the shelter for quite a while. I also had a soft spot for FIV+ cats because I know how difficult it can be to adopt them out because of their condition. I knew that my living situation would be perfect for an FIV+ cat since I do not have any other animals, and I wanted to give a cat like Thurston a chance at finding a loving home.”

When Caitlin and Thurston Howell met, she fell in love with him instantly. Left with a feather toy while getting to know one another, Caitlin knew the cat had bunches of energy when he went wild playing with it. (Thurston Howell liked the toy so much that it ended up going home with them.) “Thurston was curious and social; he was happy to meet us and rub against our legs. And he was just so cute! I knew right away after meeting him that he would be a great addition to my family,” said Caitlin.

Thurston Howell has adjusted to his new home, and the feisty feline who was once mouthy, had spotty litterbox skills and showed some less than desirable behavior tendencies is loved, adored and maybe a bit spoiled. (Come on, we all do it with our pets.) “By providing him a stress-free environment, Thurston Howell has not shown any signs of his old ways,” said Caitlin. And, as a testament to his newfound comfort in his new home, Thurston has morphed into having no concept of personal space. “He wants to be as close to my face as possible whenever I am laying down,” said Caitlin. “Thurston Howell will crawl onto my chest and inch his way up to my face until his nose is touching mine. Although this is adorable, he also doesn’t realize how big he is! At 14 lbs, I can definitely feel the weight on my chest whenever he is around for a cuddle.” What we do for our pets, am I right?

Thurston has quickly become part of the family, and Caitlin said he is developing his voice. When he first went home, Thurston Howell wasn’t really a meow’er; instead, he made little chirping noises. As he adapted to his new life, Thurston Howell also became quite vocal with distinct meows for his different demands–food, play and cuddles.

“Although no animal will ever replace my Kitty, Thurston has been such a great pal and has really helped me through the grieving process,” said Caitlin. “He needed me to be open and understanding with his needs as a cat, and I needed him to teach me how to love again after loss. I think I needed him in my life just as much as he needed me to give him a second chance. Don’t judge a book by its cover–be patient and understanding in the process and just know that you are saving a life when you adopt a cat that had a rough start. I challenge you to open your hearts to adopting a pet that may not be young or come without complications. Thank you, Dumb Friends League for giving me the opportunity to open my heart once again to the love of an animal companion.”

To learn more about pets available for adoption, visit our adoptions page or call 303.751.5772. All adoptions include spay or neuter surgeries, age-appropriate vaccinations, a microchip ID and a free wellness visit with a participating veterinarian.