Thando the ginger laying on a crochet rug

Thando’s Story

The word Thando comes from the Xhosa word uthando which means love.

Why did I name him Thando? Let me tell you the story of how I rescued him, which if you’ve ever rescued an animal, you know as well as I do, that they’re the ones doing the rescuing, and we’re the rescued.

There’s another story to tell, Noah’s, but that’s for another day. Thando’s story starts three months after I had to leave Noah in Cape Town and I was terribly lonely. I missed having a little creature in the house with me.

I knew exactly what I wanted. Just like Noah, I wanted to find the cat that is least likely to get adopted. The cat that isn’t coming forward for attention. The cat that couldn’t care less about me being there. I wanted the loner. This would suit me perfectly because although I’m super social and loud and can be needy at times, I don’t like anyone being needy of me. Go figure. An independent aloof cat is the way to go for me.

After meeting all the cats at CLAW, and I mean close to 50 in two rooms, I wasn’t convinced until I cocked my head and noticed a paw in the far corner in a cubby. Aha! There’s my guy!

After some coaxing (all cat people knows this means man-handling in the gentlest way possible without getting your eyes gouged out) I got a hold of the most beautiful and softest pale ginger. Lucky for me he didn’t in fact swat at me however he definitely didn’t want to be held or part of the shenanigans he suddenly found himself in. But I knew, this is the one.

I had him in the bag. Quite literally, a space bubble back pack with air vents. A quick check in with the vet to get his injections and LIFT OFF! Destination: Home. (Since I’m wearing the back pack does that make me Buzz Lightyear?)

The standard way of introducing a cat to a new home is closing him in a room with food, water and a litter box. My house is all open plan everything so this little guy got closed up in my bedroom. I left him to settle and checked on him now and again but he ran into my closet and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the day.

Finally I went to bed and knew he hadn’t eaten or had any water all day. I put the bowls in the closet with him and got onto the bed. Soon I heard the crunch of food, followed by the slurps of water and out he came. I can’t blame him, I get hangry myself and if ever you find me in a mood just feed me!

Suddenly this withdrawn cat had a personality! Friendly, chatty, and craving affection. I knew right then his name had to be Thando. He had been at the shelter since being a kitten about 3 years earlier. The shelter volunteer that helped me didn’t recognise him when I got ahold of him, and later came back to me to say that another volunteer noticed he’s missing and identified him as the sweet ginger that got withdrawn after being bullied by the fat ginger.

So here was this cat that had never known a home other than that one room at the shelter, never been named, even withdrew reducing his chances to be adopted. He had never known love so it made sense he needed to BE love. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)

Five months later he’s got me wrapped around his little beans. I love him to bits, despite him not understanding personal space (he’s attached to me at the hip), and he asks for snacks ten times a day (OK even me, I want snacks all day too), and the way he wakes me up when he’s tired of bed in the morning with face taps, body slams, and constant nagging only to get me up so I can cuddle him and tell him he’s my sweet boy (through clenched teeth of course because I am not to be woken up against my will) and place him at his food bowl which is never empty so it’s not like I have to get up to actually feed him…

The moral of the story is that sometimes we don’t get what we want, but instead get what we need.

I leave you with a collection of my favourite moments with Thando, and the suggestion to adopt don’t shop if you’re considering a pet. Feel free to reach out to CLAW (Community Lead Animal Welfare) and donate your time or money! 

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