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Cat Waits 8 Years — And Counting — For Adoption

By Justin Breen | December 20, 2012 8:18am | Updated on December 20, 2012 8:51am

CHICAGO — Since the Red Door Animal Shelter in West Rogers Park opened 12 years ago, manager Matt Gannon estimates at least 2,000 cats have been adopted.

But a 9-year-old gray-and-white female, Eclair, has been at Red Door, 2410 W. Lunt Ave., a whopping eight years without earning her feline release papers.

Eclair isn't alone in terms of an ultra-extended stay. Charlemagne, a 10-year-old shorthair male, has been at the shelter since 2006, Gannon said.

"That's kind of a sad existence to think they would live the rest of their lives in an animal shelter," said Gannon, 35, an Edgewater resident who's been at Red Door for six years. "The way we look at it, we don't want to think of any animals here as permanent residents."

At the Anti-Cruelty Society in River North, three cats — Daphne, Dotter and Sake — have been at the facility, 157 W. Grand Ave., for most of this year.

Anti-Cruelty Society manager of behavior and training Karen Okura said lengthy periods in shelters aren't good for animals, psychologically or physically. She said cats especially are affected because they're aren't able to jump or climb.

"They don't get to experience normal cat behavior," said Okura, a North Center native. "I think that's what breaks my heart the most.

"It's hard for these guys to be sitting here on Christmas Day. They don't know what it is, but we do. It's sad."

At PAWS Chicago in Lincoln Park, a 6-year-old female rat terrier named Corky hasn't been adopted since arriving in April. Andy Lane, a volunteer at PAWS, 1997 N. Clybourn Ave., for 4½ years who walks Corky four times a week, said he feels people overlook the "friendly, good dog."

"She's been there a long time," said Lane, a Lincoln Park resident. "When people come in to look at dogs, I've often pointed them to Corky. It just hasn't been the right match."

Gannon isn't giving up on Eclair and Charlemagne finding permanent homes. He said a cat that had been at Red Door since 2005, Velvet, was adopted last year.

"A couple walked in one day. He met them, they met him, and they really fell in love," he said. "It was a great sense of accomplishment, and that's what we're here for."