Out of the Darkness


I adopted Gandalf in 2011 from the Ulster County SPCA. He was rescued along with 32 other cats by the shelter’s Humane Law officers and shelter staff from an abandoned house in Plattekill, southern Ulster County, with interior walls that were slick with mold and every surface clotted with filth. Those awful living conditions were the worst ever seen by the shelter staff. It took days for the shelter staff to catch those cats to get them out of that hellhole.

How those cats survived for so long in that disgusting darkness, who only knows. I met them all in the shelter’s back rooms after they’d safely arrived, and I helped care for them as they recovered from their ordeal: feeding, cleaning, Reiki, repeat.

Eventually I noticed this one gray cat sitting silently in his cage, beautiful and dignified but clearly unhappy.

Being gray, of course he was named Gandalf.

I wasn’t looking to bring home another cat, having recently lost George. But Gandalf stayed on my mind and I couldn’t let go, and that was it: the moment he was cleared medically by the shelter vet I brought him home, chatting with him during the drive.

Our Chat During the Drive Home

“You’re coming to live with Pebbles and me. She’s quiet, and likes to be on her own. Give her time.”

“Okay, got it. What else about her?”

“She likes eating her food without being bothered by anyone.”

“Got it.” He was calmly taking in his new “assignment” — his new housemate.

Our conversation during the car ride home was interrupted when I took some curves in the road that were too fast for his liking: “Slow DOWN with those turns! I feel sick!” Noted: this boy did not like car trips. He still doesn’t.

But Gandy quickly acclimated to my home, claiming everyone he met there as his personal new best friend. Then, and now, he remains the most open and friendly of cats, and likes nothing better than a lap to climb into. Your lap included.

Just don’t expect Gandalf to relax under a nice dark blanket. Hanging out in the light is fine, thanks.