By Phil McPeck
A neighbor's comment in everyday conversation — something to the effect that you have to go to the MaxFund — amounted to a fuse.
It was a fuse that Eduards Ritums lit when he visited Denver's premier no-kill animal shelter at 1005 Galapago St. more than five years ago. The Denver man walked into the nonprofit animal shelter, and then one of its cat rooms, as a potential adopter.
"I felt eyes on me," Ritums said. "It's an addictive feeling."
Something warm and fuzzy brushed up against his ankle. A couple of sets of eyes were focused on him and walking his way, he said.
Not only did he begin an adoption, Ritums became a MaxFund volunteer who now is known for his dedication to cats and especially more-difficult cats. "That's how it started," he said.
Those were the days before MaxFund's state-of-the-art Cat Adoption Center at 720 W. 10th Avenue. Cats and kittens were in the same building as dogs and puppies. The feral cat room was tucked away, practically hidden off a hallway; in the current facility it's on par with other cat specialty rooms. Back then the feral cats' window had northern exposure; today it faces the sunnier south.
Ritums readily shares that he tends to be a withdrawn in his personal life and said that helps explain his kinship with feral cats . "These cats feel estranged from people, so we have something in common," he said. "I read to them: National Geographic, whatever book I happen to be reading.
"One of them sniffed my foot; that was a big deal," he said. A couple of the habitually distrustful cats also have come to accept being petted. One that had been badly matted when she was brought to MaxFund turned into the sweetest lap cat, Ritums said.
In another specialty room — MaxFund's social room — there are cats that get along with people but not each other. Among them is the one Ritums would most like to see adopted: Tookie, a big, black, long-haired feline. His home has been a cage for years, Ritums said. "He has to get out.
"Tookie is a big teddy bear who has misdirected aggression issues. When he hears a cat fight, he becomes a hockey fan," egging on the combatants and wanting to participate, he said.
We so appreciate the attention and love that Eduards gives to Tookie and other cats at MaxFund! The shelter cats' lives are greatly enriched by his efforts. We can always use more volunteers, though. If you're interested in becoming a MaxFund volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn, at carolynmaxfundorg.