Pet of the Week: Charity needs comfort of new home

Charity is available for adoption at the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter in Edinburg. She hasn't adjusted well to life inside the shelter and suffers from depression as a result. Brad Fauber/Daily

EDINBURG – Extended stays in an animal shelter probably aren’t the ideal choice for any pet, but some animals handle that type of living situation better than others. Charity, a 3- to 4-year-old feline, is one such cat that has had trouble adjusting to  life inside the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter.

“Charity hasn’t really adjusted very well here at the shelter,” Emily Gochenour, an animal caretaker at the facility, said last week. “It’s not a life that she likes to live, caged up. Even though we do have this room and we can take them out and spend time with them, it depresses her quite a bit just living here.”

Charity, who was brought to the shelter as a stray on Oct. 2, comes off as quite a bit standoffish, and many attempts to pet her are met with a hiss. But Gochenour expressed her desire to inform prospective cat owners that Charity’s current mental state – which is also causing her hair to thin around her ears and on her legs and stomach – is what feline depression looks like.

“She didn’t act like this when she first got here,” Gochenour said. “She was actually a very nice cat, very friendly. She wanted to be touched and loved, and now she’s losing her fur from the stress level and she doesn’t wanna be touched a whole lot anymore. I don’t know if it’s the sensitivity or the stress.

“I know she’s hissing a lot but that’s another way of her communicating to you, ‘I’m upset, I’m not happy here,'” Gochenour added. “She gets overlooked because of that reason.”

Taking in a cat in Charity’s condition isn’t for everyone, and Gochenour suggested that anyone considering adopting Charity should be someone with a “big heart who is willing to give her patience and willing to understand her.”

Gochenour added that Charity’s current mental state likely isn’t permanent.

“There’s definitely that adjustment period. It could take months. It could take up to a year, longer than that even for them to fully feel like, ‘I’m in a home now, I can relax,'” she said. “She might think, ‘Oh no, I’m in a home but am I gonna move somewhere else again?’ It’ll take a while for her to realize ‘I’m not going anywhere, no one’s gonna bother me, no one’s gonna snatch me up and take me somewhere else.'”

It’s best, Gochenour added, that wherever Charity ends up is free of small children and dogs, although she said she wouldn’t rule out a home with other cats as Charity seems to get along with her fellow felines at the shelter.

Ideally, Charity should go to a home in which she’s allowed to lie around and “mind her own business.”

“She definitely has her limits,” Gochenour said. “She gets over-stimulated really easily, so definitely a home where she can just kind of meander around the home and do her own thing.”

Charity has been de-clawed, Gochenour said, and should remain an indoor-only cat. She’s also been spayed, is up to date on vaccinations and is available for a $15 adoption fee.

The Shenandoah County Animal Shelter is located at 268 Landfill Road in Edinburg. For more information, contact the shelter by calling (540) 984-8955 or visit online at shenandoahcountyva.us/animal-shelter.