When asked to submit any cat guys I know to a new Petfinder gallery, my husband, Wheeler, was a natural choice. After all, he married the director of shelter outreach for Petfinder and therefore we share our home with a small menagerie of animals, including three cats. Ensuring he was truly a cat guy was an essential part of our relationship!
We first met several years ago as neighbors where, from his nearby apartment window, Wheeler could see me walking my arthritic senior Shepherd mix, Dexter, slowly around the block. When he came to my apartment for the first time, he was greeted by my late cat, Gretel. This was no ordinary cat – Gretel was adopted as a senior cat and was missing an eye, an ear and most of her teeth. She had extra toes, was FIV+, just recovered from a splenectomy and one of the all-time friendliest cats, giving people no choice but to like her.
My husband grew up with cats and he and Gretel became close friends quickly. Together we moved into Wheeler’s apartment, then into a house of our own. Both of our apartments had deep, cat-friendly windowsills, but our house did not. Shortly after moving in, while remodeling the rest of our 1870’s house from top to bottom, Wheeler made cat-sized platforms for each window sill.
Gretel is no longer with us, but the improvements made in her honor are used by our current cats every day, and the catifcation of our house and yard has progressed impressively along with the rest of our remodel. For my recent birthday, Wheeler designed and built a five-level cat tree, complete with a light and feeding station. Our three cats, Gerald, Mr. Pickwick and Jezebel love it, especially Jezebel who likes to catapult off it onto the nearby kitchen table, scaring me half to death each time.
Our old house came with the need for many repairs, but it also came with something else – a colony of feral cats! For my Christmas present one year, my husband created shelters for the cats of our neighborhood. They sit high enough off the ground to deter other critters and rise above any snowfall. They have a hinged-roof, with real roofing material, allowing for easy access to change the straw. He took it a step further, by creating a how-to video to help colony caretakers prepare their cats for winter.
After installing a fence around our yard to give our dog, Diamond Shamrock, more freedom, I worried about our feral cats being able to still come by for visits. Not only did Wheeler build steps to help the cats get into our yard, but he built feeding stations to keep the cat food safe (and out of Diamond Shamrock’s belly).
While I would never have considered marrying anyone who is not a cat guy, I never expected to be lucky enough to find someone who uses his creativity and ingenuity to build great things for great cats.