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Sunday, February 16, 2014


I love cats. I like dogs, too, but I love cats. That's why when I filled that gap in my life, I adopted a pair of them.

I'm not Crazy Cat Lady into cats, mind you. I have a friend from back in high school who commonly has over a dozen at a time, including rescuing and rehabbing feral kitties. I'm not judging her, I'm just not that, uh, advanced in my mania for felines.

Having had to put Jello down, I was down to one cat and really I think I was okay with that for the most part. Not entirely, but Zippy is a pretty awesome cat. He won't sleep on my chest when my CPAP is going, and he sometimes goes noodling for feet at the end of the bed when I'm trying to sleep, but generally he's nothing but a blessing.

Zippy wasn't that okay with being an only cat. He got a bit needier for human affection, but the kicker was Corinna kept catching him grooming her earflap hat, licking the rabbit fur flaps.

I thought about it a lot before going because I knew once I entered the cat room at the Human Society, there was likely no turning back. They have too many cats for me not to fall in love with one, and barring a repeat performance of the Jello Show, I'll have that cat until I'm around 60 years old. That's a commitment, baby.

I looked on the Humane Society website and had found a kitty I thought sounded about right. In foster care with other cats and a dog in a house with children, playful, good with the other animals, etc. The last thing I wanted was to bring home a cat who would set eyes on our dogs and hide under the bed for 14 years. Or a cat that runs for the hills when the mailman mounts the porch, let alone when we have company over. We like to entertain, and have an open door household where friends can and do drop in with no notice. I want my cats to be the kind that can handle that lifestyle.

Oh, and I want lap kitties, at least up to a point. Ideally, cats that would sleep on my chest or by my shoulder, but the CPAP seems to make too much racket for the cats I've had. They didn't have any deaf cats on hand, or I'd totally have gone that route.

So I went to see about Gus from the website, had called ahead during the week in fact so they could pull our file and streamline the process. But when I got there, I just went into a cat room and started interacting with cats. I figured the cat that wants to go home with me will start interacting with me. That's what happened last time, Jello was climbing my leg the minute I walked in the room and Zippy was pawing at me from a platform saying, 'Me too!' and climbing on Molly's lap.

I was really being charmed by a black kitten who tried to nurse other kittens even though he was male and juvenile, when another black kitty on top of the cage I was standing in started reaching down trying to get my attention. He wasn't scratching, he kept is claws in, very gently pawing at me. Eventually he climbed down and let me hold him, purring loudly. This turned out to be the cat I'd called about, the cat on the website who had sounded like such a good match.

We brought the dogs with us to be sure, and I'd asked if they could put us in a room with the cat so we could see how it went. Meanwhile, I ducked into their second room just to see if some other cat wanted me worse. There, I met Oscar, an enormous bully of a cat who had several deal-breaker personality traits including bullying other cats and not being tolerant with children. Almost 19 lbs, he was a big boy, but not in the running. However, the one cat who'd been able to stand up to him, Bulldog, was a charmer. And weird. A sloping forehead like he'd been hit with a shovel as a kitten, spots and stripes, on the big side. Super gentle. Gets along well with the other cats, likes strangers, a real lap-kitty. Next thing I know, he's in the interview room with our dogs.

And he's fine with them. So is Gus, who turned out to be Rocky (when they checked his chip, apparently Gus was at a foster house and Rocky was at the shelter, though the records had indicated it was the other way around—they're both black cats from the same litter so I guess a little confusion is par for the course). Gus/Rocky, though, was a clear winner, both in terms of friendly and dog tolerance. He actually rubbed himself on Foster's nose, didn't even seem to think a dog could be a menace.

Decisions, decisions. I really wanted to take both cats home, and after mulling it over a few minutes, that's what I decided to do. Normally, there'd be a waiting period while I was evaluated as a prospective adopter, and there was another gent at the pound that day who didn't understand this and would not stop trying to get them to let him just leave with a cat. I realized, I took Jello and Zippy home the same day, though I think I had to run to PetSmart for supplies and come back for them, there was some formality they had to clear up first.

They asked me if I wanted to take these cats home today, and I was like, "Yeah, if that's possible," thinking after what I'd overheard with that other guy that maybe it wasn't possible. Then I overheard a couple of the volunteers saying, 'The Danica people.' Danica was the name our dog Sheba had the year she was at the Human Society. She's a challenging dog, one with a lot of baggage, and not only did Corinna adopt her, but it was a smashing success of an adoption. We bring Sheba back from time to time (for instance to interview prospective new cats), but just to visit. Sheba has thrived in our home and Corinna has done a lot of good training with her. I don't know what all they normally do in terms of screening people, but apparently the 'Danica people' are A-list adopters, and I did indeed bring both Bulldog and Gonzo (what I decided to call Gus/Rocky) home. I could rename Bulldog, but he looks so much like one, I figured I'd just go with that. It feels good, knowing that we are on the A-list, but since two dogs and three cats are, as far as I can tell, our limit for four-legged pets (we haven't ruled out some laying hens and/or a backyard bee hive) I guess it's of limited value. Really, if Jello hadn't had such a tragically short life, I wouldn't be back there, in all likelihood, for at least a decade.

Zippy hasn't been 100% receptive to the new siblings, and Bulldog hid out in the basement for the first twelve hours or so (long enough for me to worry he'd snuck out and didn't know where home was). But Zippy is gradually getting less hostile, and even played some with Gonzo by evening. Then, the next day we had Molly's birthday party and I worried that the new cats would scatter when people showed up, but they hung out in the living room the hole time, loving on my nephews, getting on new laps, and generally being sociable. A dozen loud people show up, no cause for alarm, just more potential laps, more hands for petting.

I also picked up a kick-ass cat condo someone was giving away. Four stories with a pedestal for each of our three cats up top. Then sprinkled it liberally with catnip. I think getting them stoned together should help them bond.

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