Ninth life up for shelter’s house cat
The Douglas County Animal Shelter feels a little emptier recently as the cat bed under the brochure table now lies vacant.
Bud, the shelter’s three-legged kitty and mascot is gone. The 16-year-old domestic short-haired Scottish fold, succumbed to an unknown illness March 23.
Nicknamed Arthur for King Arthur by shelter service officer Nancee Goldwater, Bud held court at the shelter for 13 years.
“He was a pretty special cat,” said John Respess, supervisor for Douglas County Animal Care & Services. “Having three legs didn’t seem to slow him down, except for the one side that he couldn’t reach to scratch. But he always found someone to scratch him.”
Bud’s mellow temperament earned him a special place at the shelter and many fans who dropped by just to see him and bring him treats. He even received packages in the mail on occasion, Respess said. He allowed children’s sometimes rough petting, but only tolerated a select few to actually pick him up.
Above and beyond the call of duty, Bud was the test-kitty to judge if a dog was cat-aggressive.
“He had very good instincts about dogs and if he sensed danger he would make a quick getaway, ducking into a nearby office or jumping up onto the table,” Respess said.
When the lobby became too hectic, he would retreat into one of the staff offices where he had alternate beds and bowls. But most of the time Bud could be found curled up on his bed under the lobby table, or outside in the garden enjoying the sun as hundreds of
people, dogs and cats bustled in and out.
Shelter Care Assistant Joan Gomez was working the day Bud was released to the shelter 13years ago. The previous owners explained that children had put a rubber band around his leg that cut off the circulation, forcing the amputation. The then 3-year-old cat was immediately put up for adoption.
“We noticed he was great with the public, but people didn’t want to take on a handicapped cat,” Gomez said.
“Rhonda Moore — the shelter supervisor then — said, let’s just let him stay in the lobby.
“We never considered euthanizing him, because of his personality. Never.”
Bud already ruled the grounds when Douglas Animal Welfare Group came into existence about 5 years ago.
DAWG volunteers learned to respect his special gifts.
“When I went through my dog-walking orientation, Bud stayed in the background and kind of ignored me,” said Lori O’Neill, who joined DAWG in May 2006. “As soon as I was ‘certified’ and ready to be a real walker, Bud would greet me with a meow when I walked in and would supervise when I took any kitties into the Quiet Room.
He must have figured if I was OK with the county and DAWG, then I was OK with him. And, I have to admit, having his approval was a heady thing.”
Judy Thomas, a long-time DAWG member, spent a lot of time socializing the cats up for adoption.
“I always took yarn for each cat and kitten and Bud wasn’t left out,” Judy said. “I must have made some impression on him because later, when I had been out of town for awhile and my husband and I went to take our cans (for recycling) to the shelter, he came out of Nancee’s office to see me and he looked at me with such adoration! I will never forget that sweet face. He actually let me pick him up and love him.
“When I was there the Tuesday before he died, he slept in his bed under the table in the lobby. He didn’t even acknowledge that I was there. I went to talk to him but he just slept. He wasn’t his usual self.”
The shelter and DAWG plan to honor Bud with a plaque and some kind of memorial in the garden where he loved to sun.
“In time we may find another cat that will tolerate dogs, kids and strangers, but it is unlikely that we will ever find another Bud,” Respess said. “He will be missed by all.”
— Sally J. Taylor is a DAWG volunteer and night desk chief at the Nevada Appeal.