Many of you may have known of my love of pets, and how strange it felt for me to live in a pet-free rental without a fur kid or two around. Well, last month I finally bought my own home, and planned to settle in, then find myself two rescue kitties. I knew exactly what I was looking for: two older cats who were already bonded, who'd were old enough that they wouldn't be upset when I went to work, didn't require all the attention a youngster would, and might, just might, leave my spider plant alone.
Like all well-laid plans, mine went out the window. My son (who has three cats) visited the weekend I moved in, and he and my daughter-in-law visited a local shelter while I was at work. He called me on break and said something like this:
"They have a lot of cats, Mom. A lot of cats. You need to come down here. They're so desperate, they've waived all fees."
Now, I'd fully planned for cat adoption fees, but I'd mistaken this particular shelter for a high kill shelter I'd read about in the news, and worried for this overload of little fur darlings and what might happen to them.
After work I fought cross-town traffic and arrived in a veritable feeding frenzy of pet adoption. Volunteers handed out cardboard pet carriers and adoption forms when you walked through the door. Surely I'd find the two older cats I wanted, right? "It's going well," a volunteer told me as she handed me the carrier my new fur child would ride home in. "We've adopted a bunch of cats today." She beamed at me. A sincere "Yes, I'm really happy for those kitties!" grin. I grinned back, and prepared to up their score by two.
Pandemonium reigned inside. Folks of all ages peered into cages, or held cats or kittens in their arms. I bypassed the kitten room and headed straight for older cats. It took me a few minutes to work out what color coding on the cages meant: available to adopt now, available on such and such a date, sick cat, already neutered, age, etc.
Being a bit overwhelmed by so much going on, I retreated to a quieter area with only a few cages. "Have you found your cat yet?" another volunteer asked.
"Just waiting for the room to clear a bit," I replied.
She gave me a sympathic smile. "What are you looking for?"
I told her about the two older cats of my dreams.
"While you're waiting, why don't you keep this little girl company?" she asked, reaching into a cage behind me and handing me a half-grown tabby.
Empty carrier at my feet, I cradled the cat to my chest. She crawled right up to my shoulder and snuggled in, purring. It went downhill from there. "Oh, this is a mistake," the woman said, marking out the "1 year old" remark on the cat's cage and replacing it with "six months". We couldn't find her paperwork, and when someone returned it, I read these words: "Sick cat, not responding to (drug name)". My heart fell for this poor little girl.
The volunteer said, "They've started her on a new med, but it's too soon to tell if it will help her respiratory infection. You don't have other cats, do you? She'll need to be isolated until she's better, and given medicine every day."
The purring furball who'd already chosen me would have to be an only cat, at least for a while. She wasn't the older cat I wanted, and because of her illness, she wasn't available for adoption, but putting her back in a cold cage just wasn't something I could do.
"You could foster her," the volunteer said. I found out later that most adoptees only wanted small kittens or older cats. "Teenagers" like this kitty usually went overlooked.
According to her info sheet, her name was "Robin" because she'd been picked up by animal control on Robin Lane. Okay, that last bit of info simply broke my heart. I took her home that day. She wasn't playful like a kitten, since she was ill and malnourished, but she wanted to cuddle a lot. Oh, did you know that giving liquid meds to a cat is a real chore? I had claw marks to prove it, but I persevered.
After seven days of medicine the cat still coughed and sneezed. I despaired of her ever getting better, until trial and error proved she was allergic to the Glade plug-ins the former homeowner had left behind. She made a full recovery. I took her back to the shelter for shots and spaying, and that afternoon, signed adoption papers on Willow. This pretty girl didn't deserve to be named after where she'd been dumped.
So now I have a cat, and not the older cat I thought I wanted, but a cat that chose me. She's full of energy now, and my poor spider plant lost all its tendrils to her playfulness, but she keeps me company, meets me at the door each day when I come home, and plays fetch like a dog.
I'd like you to meet Willow, during a calm moment:
Now, excuse me whle I go check out what just went crash in the living room.