How Two Bonded Cats, Sikes and Stanley, Found the Purr-fect Home

Stanley, left, and Sikes, right, at the ASPCA Adoption Center.

In August 2022, nearly 30 cats were surrendered to the ASPCA by a Queens resident overwhelmed by the number of cats in their home. Our Community Engagement (CE) team worked closely with the client to ensure their large group of cats would be adopted into new homes as swiftly and safely as possible. During this removal, the ASPCA Community Medicine team collaborated with CE by having their Mobile Spay-Neuter Clinic parked directly outside of the client’s home, where the cats would immediately receive health assessments, as well as be spayed or neutered.

Two of these cats, Sikes and Stanley, were transported to the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center (ARC), where they began an eventful seven-month journey toward adoption. They spent 10 days in ARC recovering from their neuter procedures, and at the end of August, they were ready to move to the Adoption Center (AC) and begin their search for a loving home.

Through the month of September, the two of them—as well as the other cats they came in with—spent some time settling in and getting comfortable. It was known amongst AC staff that this group was very social with other cats, so to help them come out of their shells, our behavior team started to introduce a few of them to each other as roommates. Some were housed in staff offices, which helped them learn that living with people is fun!

Truly “Best Friends Forever”

In early October, Sikes and Stanley were moved into an office together, and it was obvious from the start that the two were inseparable! Right from the start, they always wanted to be near each other, and they especially liked to cuddle during naps. Soon enough, everyone knew that they were bonded and would need to go home together when adopted.

As Sikes and Stanley got to know the different staff who used “their office,” it became clear Stanley was the more outgoing of the two and liked to greet everyone and ask for pets. Sikes was a bit more hesitant toward people, but Stanley helped show him that humans were okay—sometimes they had yummy treats!

As with many cats who lived in overcrowded homes, Sikes needed some time to warm up to humans. “Sikes was trusting enough to get right up on you, practically putting his nose on you to check you out, but any slight movement to reach out to him sent him dashing,” says Cynthia Thrash, Director of Animal Welfare.

The dedicated AC team made sure the two cats had as many opportunities as possible to acclimate to a happy, enriched life with people.

“Once they warmed up, they were super sweet,” says Matchmaker Christopher Wilson. “They would have bursts of energy and enjoyed climbing on any structure they could find in the office. The higher the better with them!”

Overcoming Medical Hurdles

While they were progressing behaviorally, there were other challenges that this duo faced. When Sikes and Stanley first came to the Adoption Center, they had been diagnosed with a few medical conditions . “Stanley had a dental performed with 14 teeth removed,” says Dr. Melanie Benetato, Veterinarian at the AC. “Then once we got his diarrhea, upper respiratory infection (URI) and ear infections treated and controlled, we made him available for adoption.”

Stanley also tested positive for the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which does not need specialized care, but it is important for him to be seen for an annual check-up by a veterinarian. Fortunately, it’s not an issue for an FIV-positive cat to live with a FIV-negative cat because it’s very unlikely to spread through sharing water bowls or grooming each other. Typically, FIV spreads through deep bite wounds between cats, which is rare for cats who are friendly to each other.

While Stanley’s medical problems were being managed, Sikes’ case proved to be more complicated. Though he was not FIV-positive, he did have persistent URI signs—mostly nasal discharge and congestion. He also had dental disease, and after he received a dental procedure, his URI signs worsened.

At the end of November, when staff observed Sikes having coughing fits, the medical team performed more diagnostics. They also worked with the Internal Medicine team at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) to ensure they had the most information possible for his treatment plan.

“Despite a very thorough medical work up with the Internal Medicine service, we never obtained a definitive diagnosis for the cause of his respiratory issues,” says Dr. Benetato. “Since all of his testing came back negative or normal, it is possible that the abnormalities seen in his lungs were chronic scarring caused by prolonged inflammation.”

After three months of extensive diagnostic work and treatments, at the end of February 2023, Sikes was cleared for adoption! While all that was happening, Stanley waited patiently for his buddy to heal up.

“This is sometimes a hurdle for bonded pairs,” says Dr. Benetato, describing when one cat is healthy and has to wait while the other recovers. “But at least they had each other while they were in the Adoption Center.”

From Shy Officemates to Social Roommates

In early March, Sikes and Stanley moved to a foster home to better experience what it’s like living in a quiet home setting.

“The foster family played a huge role in getting them adopted,” says Christopher Wilson. “They did such a great job making them comfortable and adjusting to a new home.”

Soon enough, a virtual meet-and-greet was scheduled with Marissa Y. and her fiancé, Dennis F.

“My previous cats came from the Adoption Center and I knew I’d find the perfect ones again,” says Marissa. “I could see it in Sikes and Stanley’s eyes that they both just wanted to be loved and deserved a great home where they’d be spoiled!”

The meet-and-greet was facilitated by Christopher, who says, “It was basically love at first sight. The adopters were out-of-state at the time and actually cut their trip short to come home and adopt them!” Marissa was ready to take care of them, knowing that their history and their health issues could make it harder for them to find a home.

As expected, the transition into a new home was initially tough for Sikes and Stanley. But after giving them some time to relax and settle in, they started to open up and show their true colors!

“Stanley will let us pet his head a little sometimes and Sikes has definitely learned to associate us with food!” says Marissa. “They love wandering around the apartment, playing with their toys and sleeping on “their” bed in the guest room.”

Marissa and Dennis make sure to give Sikes and Stanley plenty of personal space and let them make the decision if they want to approach an outstretched finger for a sniff.

“I know in time, whether months or years, they will come to realize we are safe for them and will allow us to give them more affection and attention,” says Marissa.

Meanwhile, as these two wonderful cats continue to settle into their new life with their new people, Sikes and Stanley are the cutest roommates around! “It has been a joy and blessing to have them around,” says Dennis, “watching them adjust and love us in their own special way.”

This June, during Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, you can also help cats in need like Sikes and Stanley! See more on how you can get involved or adopt a shelter cat (or two!) of your very own.

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