Silvia C. loved having a cat in her family home as a teenager and enjoyed going to friends’ homes inhabited by felines too. When she grew up, she was patient and waited until just the right time to add a furry family member to her home. As soon as she was confident that she was independent enough and settled in her apartment, she began looking for a cat.
Falafel and the ASPCA
Meanwhile, our pal Falafel first crossed the path of the ASPCA Adoption Center in January 2016, when his previous caregiver sadly, had to surrender the 5-month-old kitten due to moving. They’d found Falafel as a stray kitten and cared for him until their change in circumstances. But, it didn’t take long for sweet little Falafel to get adopted.
Unfortunately, in late August 2018, Falafel came back to the ASPCA when he was surrendered by his second caregiver. At the time, Falafel was very shy and nervous around people. The Behavior team deduced that he hadn’t received enough attention from people as a youngster and now was fearful in new situations. Falafel often hid and could only be coaxed out with treats and plenty of time.
To help Falafel relax and receive the time to get acclimated to people, he was transferred to the ASPCA Offices in Midtown, Manhattan as part of our Office Foster program. MaryLyn Carabello, ASPCA Legal Senior Director and Staff Attorney, welcomed Falafel with open arms and drawers full of treats. MaryLyn is a seasoned expert as a foster caregiver and has helped many cats come out of their shells and find loving homes—her love and devotion continued as she fostered Falafel.
“Falafel was my lovable goof,” says MaryLyn. “He was shy and preferred to get lots of love in his safe spaces at first. One day, he wanted love so much that he pushed himself out of his safe space while leaning into my pets and went straight into my lap. It took him a minute to realize that he wasn’t where he expected to be, got up, went back to his safe space and proceeded to flop over and purr for more attention.”
Silvia spotted handsome Falafel on the ASPCA website and went to the Midtown offices to meet her potential new kitty.
“I was told he was pretty shy, so I just sat in his presence for a while, reading, so that he would get used to me being there,” Silvia recalls. “Then I offered him treats, which his foster mom had left out for me, and he took them—it felt like a small victory! Then I played with his toys in front of him, and though he was still shy, I could see the spark in his eyes that told me he really would have liked to come out and play.”
Silvia could see the potential of the cat that Falafel truly was inside, he just needed someone with the patience to allow his character to shine in his own time. Silvia knew she could be that person for him.
“I felt that he felt comfortable with me,” says Silvia. “He didn’t really go to his hiding space as I had been told he might, and he was receptive to my treats and my playing. When I was speaking to his foster mom, he even came out from his spot and sat in the middle of the floor! I felt like he was letting me know that he felt good with me, and I felt the same way.”
Leo Shines Bright
Silvia made the adoption official on December 22, 2018 and introduced Falafel—now named Leo—to his new home.
As expected, Leo was very shy in his new surroundings. But his new mom was patient and understanding and let Leo relax on his own time.
“It took a little time initially for him to get comfortable with the neighborhood noises, etc. during the day,” Silvia tells us. “But he started exploring his new environment at night—very confidently, too. I remember seeing him discover my bedroom window, which faces a large oak tree with a family of squirrels in it. He jumped up the windowsill and looked out—he looked so happy! It was just a joy to watch.”
After a few weeks, Leo became completely comfortable in his new home. He’s since found all the nooks and best snoozing spots. One of his favorite past times is still looking out of Silvia’s bedroom window, or as it’s known in their house, “the Squirrel TV.”
Leo and Silvia have settled into a routine that suits them both, including evening and weekend playtime sessions. Leo even loves when Silvia’s family stops by to visit. He receives more treats and has more people to play with!
“I can hardly recall what it was like without Leo,” says Silvia. “He is the sweetest cat ever. He is my family and has truly made my house a home.”