North

Fourth time's the charm for famous N.W.T. SPCA resident cat

He's a cat with a rough past an attitude but after 1,259 days at the NWT SPCA, Eileen Hendry found his softer side and gave him a permanent home.

Harrison the cat finds a permanent home

He's a cat with a rough past and an attitude but after 1,259 days at the NWT SPCA, Eileen Hendry found his softer side and gave him a permanent home. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

He's a cat with an attitude and familiar to anyone who has visited the NWT SPCA in Yellowknife the last few years.

After being fostered three times and spending 1,259 days at the shelter, Harrison the cat has finally found a permanent home.

You couldn't walk in the SPCA shelter without seeing "do not touch Harrison" posters or get a verbal warning from staff to keep your distance and give him space. 

Harrison's a cat with a rough past and was reactive, not giving much warning before he would strike. 

Shelter staff affectionately called him Dirty Harry for his sometimes mean streak. 

A softer side

It took Eileen Hendry to show that Harry also has a soft side . 

"I was thinking I was maybe ready for another cat and I was starting to kind of watch what the SPCA had available for pets. And, you know, Harrison kept popping up in the feed and stuff and he's quite well known around town." 

When she finally met him at the SPCA, they sat quietly together in the cat room and she was able to pet him for about 15 minutes. She talked to the staff about what his needs were and where he was happiest and thought maybe that she could be a good fit.

"I was really looking for easier pets," she said with a laugh.

"I went actually to meet the other cat [Fritz] that I had originally seen. And after I met [Harrison], I just couldn't stop thinking about him."

She ended up bringing both cats home because she wasn't sure if Harrison would ever really be happy with just her for company. 

"And they did tell me that he really likes other cats," she added.

It took four days but Harrison the cat finally jumped on Eileen Hendry's lap after he was in his new home with her. 'He was definitely showing that he was interested in having me for company and getting close to me,' she said. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

Given up hope

Dana Martin who's the NWT SPCA vice-president remembers when Harrison first arrived at the shelter. 

"Harrison arrived in a crate, a woman from his neighborhood found him and boxed him up into a cat carrier and brought him in. He was very frightened and underweight, very matted, very aggressive. We learned quickly that he was a biter and we needed to be careful with him."

He was moody with people but he liked other cats. He would navigate around and be attracted to the cats that were under stress. 

"He'd sit by them or, you know, in the bottom kennels in the room. He'd go and sit by the cats that were hiding and a little bit stressed."

Harrison the cat gets comfortable with his new housemate, Fritz, aka Sir Pounce a lot. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

The staff had all but given up hope to find Harrison the perfect home. 

They had accepted that he was going to be their cat at the shelter until Eileen scooped him up. 

Martin says that in another shelter, Harrison's story might have ended quite differently. Cats with behavioural issues are often the first to be euthanized.The SPCA in Yellowknife is a no-kill shelter and this offered time to build a positive association with people again.

"I think he had been here long enough [to] learn from everybody that people are OK again. I think that that allowed him to connect with her. It really is a happy ending for Harrison. And it's a new beginning for him."

'This is forever'

Hendry says that after four days of being in his new home, he finally jumped on her lap. 

"I sat on the couch and he came over and kind of draped himself over my lap. So he was definitely showing that he was interested in having me for company and getting close to me. He just wasn't quite sure how to do it at that time," said Hendry.

She says that she's learning his subtle cues when he's moody and knows when to leave him alone. 

"This is forever," she said.

"The day I brought him home, I signed the adoption papers. I didn't say I was just going to foster him or anything. So it is a long-term commitment, and I'm looking forward to having him around for a long time."

Hendry even started an Instagram account so the shelter staff who miss him can keep up with Harry's new life with his new buddy Fritz, aka Sir Pounce a lot. 

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