Several weeks ago, I was at home alone, reading, when a very friendly orange cat came up to the window and wanted to be let in. He was persistent. I finally let him in. I got his owner’s phone number from his tag and sent a text. Beans (the cat’s name, according to his tag) followed me from room to room, making me feel less alone. He was adorable. I suddenly wanted a cat.
Growing up, I didn’t have a cat. “Do you know what they do?” my mother asked. “They’re nasty!”
When my children were still at home, we got a cat. It was a sickly kitten that crawled up to my friend’s back door one night in a rainstorm. My children loved him. I was busy with school, so I didn’t bond with him the way they did. They let Fitz sleep with them, they laughed at his “kung-fu kitty” moves, and said he moved like Neo in The Matrix. Fitz was always trying to cough up a hairball. I finally mentioned that to the vet. “Have you ever seen a hairball?” I hadn’t. Fitz had asthma. That was the sound we’d heard him make so often. He suddenly had two prescriptions that he’d always have to take. Even with his meds, though, Fitz had awful asthma attacks. Emergency vet kind of asthma attacks. At least three times when I took him for an emergency, he had to be put in an oxygen chamber. I finally told the kids it was cruel for us to let him keep suffering. They would miss him. We chose the day, and they all spent good time with him, loving him and willing themselves to remember everything about him. He was three years old.
Heartbreaking as that sounds, my feelings were much stronger for my children and what they were going through than they were for Fitz. I hadn’t spent much time with him. But I loved how much my children loved him on top of their love for our dog, Honey, who we had long before Fitz and long after.
So I guess you could say I was never a cat person. Then along came Beans and opened my heart. Too bad he had an owner. He (or she) texted me back hours later and said to let Beans back outside and he’d find his way home.
I looked a long time for a kitten. I was told it was not the right time of the year yet for kittens, that there are kitten seasons when they’re ubiquitous. Like a mother feathering her nest, I bought all of the things I would need for my kitty. One Saturday I drove from pet store to pet store to visit adoption events, hoping I’d find my kitty. And then, when I went back to the first pet store because they had a litter box I really liked, there were cats there for adoption. I hadn’t seen them earlier in the day. I asked the woman if they were up for adoption and were they there earlier. She said, “Yes.” There was a female tortie in a cage with a too-active little calico. She was sweet. She responded to me. I put my fingers in the cage and started talking to her. “Yes, I said. You are the kitty for me!” I looked at the woman, excited. “I thought there was no way I would find my kitty today. I’d given up hope.” She said, “I’m about to pack up and leave. She’ll be here tomorrow.” What?! “Well, is there an application? I don’t want someone else to adopt her before I do.” She gave me an application, then squatted down and started putting things in a box. As I quickly filled it out, she loaded up her van with the cats and her stuff. She didn’t say another word to me. I put the completed application on her bag and went back to get my litter box. When I came back, she was gone.
She was not there the next day, nor was the kitty. The woman who came that day– with the cats she fostered, which is how it works, so the lady the day before was fostering “my” kitty– contacted the other woman by phone after she didn’t show up all day. She didn’t know I was serious about adopting the cat, she said. That was a lie. The truth is, she somehow decided that she wasn’t going to let me adopt that kitty. Whether she misjudged me or what, I won’t know because she wasn’t honest enough to say. “It’s probably the best thing that ever happened to you,” my fiancé said, which is what his mother would always say to him when things didn’t go his way. And it was the best thing that could have happened to me that day, because it kept me looking for a kitty– and I found Audrey.