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Plato’s Story: A Cat’s Transformation

Three photos of an orange cat

There is nothing more heartwarming than an animal’s story of transformation. And Plato’s story is one of our favorites. Plato was one of 14 cats surrendered to the Humane Society of Utah. His guardian cared about him, but it was unsustainable to provide for so many pets at once, and Plato ended up in the care of HSU. As often happens when a large number of animals are living in close quarters, Plato and his companions arrived at our facility very shut down, under-socialized, and wary of unfamiliar people or animals. We knew it would take a lot of work and patience before Plato became comfortable enough to even meet a potential adopter. But we didn’t see a lost cause; we saw a cat who needed extra support and deserved a second chance.

An Early Struggle

Plato spent his first few weeks at HSU completely petrified. He did not come down from his cat tower or allow staff and volunteers to approach him. It is perfectly normal for some cats to be shy, but this was extreme. We tried coaxing him with treats, food, cat toys, you name it. Nothing was working. It became apparent that Plato needed a change of scenery, or his condition would continue to deteriorate.

We reached out to our amazing foster network to find a temporary home where Plato could decompress. Laura Miller has been a foster with HSU for years, and she is experienced in fostering cats with a number of special needs. She graciously stepped in to see if she could work her magic on Plato. 

A Transformation Journey

With Plato settled in her home, Laura began the long and patient process of bringing him out of his shell. Everything happened in baby steps. As Laura explains, “he was not aggressive, just very shy.” He spent the whole first week on a shelf away from people or in his crate. “After about a week, I was able to reach into the crate and pet his head.” As the days passed, Plato continued to hit new milestones until he finally started approaching Laura on his own and asking for pets. But he still struggled to interact with anyone besides Laura. We worried that he might not warm up to potential adopters. But we didn’t stop trying. We all crossed our fingers and hoped the right fit would come along.

Orange cat in a crate

In March 2024, Laura received the number of a woman named Emily Shelton, who had expressed interest in Plato. Emily was a self-proclaimed dog lover, but something about this sweet-looking orange cat with the name of a Greek philosopher caught her eye. With cautious optimism, Laura gave Emily a call and set up a meeting. Although Plato was nervous and kept his distance during their first meeting, Emily felt an immediate connection. She knew that she was meeting her cat. She left Laura’s house that day and came to HSU to finalize his adoption. 

Plato’s New Groove

Cut to today, and Plato is a whole new animal. From the cat who would not come down off the shelf, Plato has transformed into a talkative, affectionate, and goofy companion. He loves to cuddle with Emily and happily asks for head scratches and belly rubs. Emily tells us, “I’ve absolutely fallen in love with him. He never fails to make me laugh and smile.” But this transformation story did not happen overnight. Emily approached Plato with patience and empathy when she first brought him home. As she describes, “I wanted to be able to hold him and play with him right away, but I had to try and imagine how afraid and confused he was.”

Emily’s patience paid off, and now she has a best friend in Plato. She still shares pictures of Plato with Laura, the amazing foster who brought them together. Laura tells us, “so very happy they found each other; definitely one of the top 2 foster stories in my 15 years of fostering close to 500 cats and kittens. Fills my heart.”

Orange cat laying on a couch

This story is a testament to the difference we can make in the lives of animals when we are willing to put in the work. Plato was lucky enough to have in his corner a caring group of staff and volunteers, a dedicated foster, and an adopter who was the right person at the right time. But Plato’s story does not have to be unique! When you adopt, volunteer, donate, or even share animal stories on social media, you are contributing to saving more lives like Plato’s!

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