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Where We Live: Me and my Shadow

This evening was a perfect one for a little walk.

And by my side, I had my buddy.

She’s a cat. Yep. My cat.

To call it “walking” is a stretch. Shadow likes to take a few steps, sit and smell things. Concrete? Yeah, she sniffs that. The side of the garage? That’s worth a few minutes of sensory marvel! Larger blades of grass will delay her for a while, too.

But her favorite spot is near the wood pile, where she inhales with more gusto. She’d sit there for hours, I think, if it weren’t for me tugging on her leash.

She loves her walks, though. We know this because she not only purrs, she does this open mouth thing that’s kinda weird but is reserved for times when she’s really happy.

That’s Shadow. That’s our girl!

During a recent Tamaqua Borough Council meeting, a woman shed tears of gratitude while thanking Police Chief Michael Hobbs and his department for looking for her missing dog. She apologized for her emotions but a councilman said he understood because pets are like family.

I hope that other pet owners feel the same. Whether it’s a cat, or a dog or even a rabbit - they definitely do become family.

Most of the cats we had while I was growing up came to us as strays. You’d look outside one day and see a cat. You’d look out the next day and see the same cat. After about a week of this, the cat would be inside the house, eating Fancy Feast and sleeping on your lap. A month later, the cat would have an entire cabinet full of toys that it would never play with, along with six dozen nicknames. By Christmas, it’s on greeting cards - and it’s front and center, with the rest of the family in the background.

But we haven’t had any cats loitering on our porch lately, and thus, we hadn’t had a cat in years.

At some point, welcoming a feline into the family started to sound like a good idea. We visited the Hillside SPCA, and in the days before that, I’d had the perfect cat in mind: it would be a smoke gray because that’s my favorite color, and it would be a boy, because I heard males make for better lap cats. Plus I already had the name “Dan Murphy” chosen for it.

We were welcomed by staff and told there were three “cat rooms” that we’d be able to visit. We could go through each one, meet the kitties, and once we were done with the trio of Catlands, we could select one and start the adoption process.

We banked on being there for a while - and we were wrong.

An orange cat caught my eye, and as I attempted to meet it despite the sea of felines gathered at my feet, a cat jumped on the table next to me. She was a tabby, with gray and black stripes. If you’ve ever owned a cat, you probably had one who looked just like her.

As some cats slept, and others screamed meows at us (as in, “Look! People!), this one stayed with us. She did little figure eights on that table. She purred. She wouldn’t let us go.

Three minutes into Cat Room No. 1 and I was sold.

“I want this one,” I said.

It was Shadow.

She snuggled on a blanket all the way home. At the house, she discovered her reflection in a mirror and wouldn’t stop looking. When she did, she would follow around just about anyone.

I wanted to change her name even though I had to rule out “Dan Murphy.” But I realized that the SPCA called her “Shadow” because she is like your shadow! She’s always by your side.

She likes sleeping late, greeting anyone who visits and cries like a lunatic whenever anyone opens a package of lunch meat. She jumps 10 feet straight into the air if she sees a dog and I think she’d like to eat the chipmunk she watches every day.

I could go on and on about our little Shadow Whalen, just as the woman who lost her dog in Tamaqua probably can, too. Thankfully, the pup has returned home and is part of her family again.

At the SPCA, they told us that Shadow was part of a litter of kittens born in Girardville. We’re happy she found her way home to us.


Shadow is shown enjoying a walk. JILL WHALEN/TIMES NEWS