Harris Gets a BFF (Best Feline Friend)

By Judy Layne

Sometimes, fate finds you a best friend when you least expect it. Just like Harris and Pirate. Here’s their story.

The kitty was in terrible shape when a Good Samaritan found him wandering stray and brought him to safety at the SPCA Kings Shelter. He had chipped teeth, was covered in fleas and was missing his right eye. He needed medical care including surgery to stitch his eye back together. Shelter staff named him Pirate. Approximately 6 years old, Pirate seemed to know that people at the SPCA were helping him. He would snuggle into their chests to show his gratitude and trust. After 44 days of healing and lots of love, Pirate was ready to find his fur-ever home.

At the same time, Harris and his mom Janet were ready to adopt a kitty. Janet explained “Harris had recently lost his cat Spice. While Spice wasn’t overly affectionate, Harris was still sad to lose her. He really wanted a new cat and after looking at many online, he saw a kitten on the SPCA website he wanted to meet. When we got to the shelter, the kitten had already been adopted so we decided to look at the other cats there. Pirate was such a big fellow and was hard to ignore with his big meow. He looked desperate for affection, so Harris opened the kennel door and Pirate immediately jumped into Harris’ arms. He wrapped his giant paws around Harris’ neck, gave him a cat-hug and didn’t want to let go. It was like he was telling Harris to take him home. We almost made it out of the shelter when Harris asked to go back and find out more about Pirate’s history. We couldn’t help but fall in love and we brought Pirate home the next day!” Janet thought that Pirate should have a new name for a new life, so she suggested several. But Harris decided that Pirate suited him best.

It took Pirate a few days to adjust to his new home. Janet related “We took him straight to Harris’ room so he could learn the smells of the house in safety, without being bombarded by our two dogs, Penny and Hank. He didn’t eat much the first two days – I think it was a big change for him – but by day 3, he was completely part of the family! Milo, our 6-month old kitten, took to Pirate right away and would try to engage him in wrestling matches. At first Pirate was having none of it, but now wrestling matches are an everyday occurrence! We’re not sure if Pirate had ever played with toys before. We bought him cat toys but he wasn’t interested. Milo loves to play and eventually, Pirate joined him chasing balls around the house. Aside from running into a few things and falling off the couch a couple of times, having only one eye hasn’t slowed Pirate down”.

Harris has always loved animals. When the family moved to Nova Scotia in 2016, he wanted a cat. “We  took in a stray kitten and named her Spice,” said Janet. “Spice didn’t like to be touched or picked up; she just wanted to be fed. So when Harris met Pirate, this big one-eyed cat that wanted hugs, it was a perfect match! This poor cat just wanted someone to love him and Harris just wanted a cat that would love him back.”

“Pirate is still super-affectionate,” shared Janet. “He loves to give hugs, sit in your lap and savor the attention. He sleeps in Harris’ bed with him every night. Given the rough life Pirate had before being adopted, it’s amazing what an affectionate cat he is. All he needed was someone to love him.”

It’s said that growing up with pets teaches kids some important life lessons. As a parent, Janet agrees wholeheartedly. “In terms of responsibility, Harris and I take turns cleaning the litter box, and Harris and his brother Jax take turns feeding the pets supper. Harris was also responsible for paying Pirate’s adoption fee and was proud of himself to use his own money to do that”.

Besides learning about kindness, empathy and caring for others, having a pet can teach kids some really tough life lessons about death and grief. Janet shared “Our beloved dog Bob had been with the family since the kids were born and when he passed away several years ago, it was really hard for them and extremely sad for everyone. But as a family, we got through it. The kids learned that it’s nice to share stories about our pets that aren’t with us anymore and to cherish all the good memories we have of them.”

I asked Janet what advice she would give to other parents about the opportunity for life lessons that adopting a pet presents. “I think it’s really important to make sure kids understand that having a pet of their own is a big and long-term commitment. Pets should be considered as members of the family and needed to be treated with love and kindness.”

And Janet’s final thoughts? “I still can’t believe that my 12-year old fell in love with a 6-year old one-eyed cat, but we’re all so glad that he did.”

Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Linc. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.