May 23, 2024

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Happy Paws, Trained Hearts

Tears as Cat Returned to Shelter 7 Years After Adoption: ‘That’s Family’

3 min read

The surrender of a rescue cat back to the shelter he was adopted from seven years ago as a kitten has sparked anger online.

Fig first arrived at the Valley Animal Center in Fresno, California, having been rescued as a three-week-old kitten back in April 2016.

According to records from back when Fig first arrived, he was not labeled as having been rescued with a parent, so may well have been raised as a “bottle baby” at the shelter during the weeks that followed.

Though details are sketchy, it didn’t take Fig long to find a home, with the happy-go-lucky cat adopted as a kitten soon after.

Staff at the shelter assumed that that would be the last they heard from Fig. “We never want or expect any of our cats or dogs to be returned or end up back in our care,” a spokesperson said.

However, seven years later, they received a call informing them that Fig was being returned to the shelter for reasons entirely beyond his control.

“They were moving out of the country and were not able to take him with them,” the shelter spokesperson said. “It is a long, difficult process to move a pet to a different country based on the laws and regulations of the country.”

Fig the seven year old cat.
Fig the seven year old cat is back at the shelter. He was adopted as a kitten but faces a much tougher task this time around.


The decision to return Fig had many on TikTok stunned. A video detailing his situation was shared by the account jjack.iie where it quickly generated anger and disbelief.

“After 7 years that cat is family I don’t know how someone could do this,” one user wrote. “How can you have a cat for 7 years since they are a kitten and then decide, not for me?!” another asked.

Returning to a shelter after seven years spent in a happy home would, perhaps understandably, create difficulties for most rescue pets. But, in a development that speaks to his kind, calm nature, Fig has taken it in his stride.

“Fig is the ideal senior cat adjustment; he has been very sweet and cooperative the whole time he has been back in our care,” the spokesperson for the Valley Animal Center said.

“Even for kittens or young cats it is a scary and sometimes difficult process to adjust to an animal shelter, but for senior cats who have been in the same home for years it can be a very challenging process. He gets up to greet people and is the friendliest cat in our senior cat room at the moment.”

Yet for all the goodwill generated by Fig’s handling of the heartbreaking situation he finds himself in, the stark reality is that there is simply less demand for senior cats compared with kittens.

A study by Priceonomics, using data from the animal adoption website Petfinder, found that in an average month that while 81.9 percent of kittens listed found new homes, that proportion dropped to 59.5 percent among adult cats and 53.9 percent among senior cats like Fig.

The Valley Animal Center does not know what the future holds for Fig but they remain confident he could find a new home quickly. “I think it does depend on the cat and the people we have walked in. I feel like he would be the type of cat that would not spend a lot of time back here since he is very outgoing and sweet,” they said. “He seems like a pretty laid back guy, I think he could adjust to any kind of family.”

They just need the right kind of person to walk in sooner rather than later, otherwise Fig’s sunny disposition could soon change.

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