It's hard to believe, but it has truly been one month since I first brought home Prometheus The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty. We've come a long way since that first day of coaxing him down from the top of the cupboards and bribing the Big, Fluffy Kitty with Greenies treats in order that she might consent to losing that wild-eyed What The Heck Is That Thing??? look.
I first thought to celebrate the day with the baking of cakes and the showering of all fluffy residents with treats. Then I remembered what The Cat Whisperer (aka Our-Socially-Awkward-But-The-Kitties-Love-Her-So-What-Are-You-Gonna-Do Vet) said about how red-headed kitties are prone to weight gain and subsequent diabetes. I figured it might be best, given that my handsome boy has proven himself to have a very healthy (and slightly scary) appetite, to maybe honor him in some other way.
To that end, I think I will do a little shout-out on behalf of all the other fluffy ones out there who maybe need a little help. I think the AGK might approve of that.
If he were actually awake, that is...
I don't begrudge anyone the desire to bring home a kitten. Not one little bit. Desdemona, my Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty, came to me as just a wee one and I loved every minute of watching that little ball of happy fur caper about the manse. I enjoyed seeing her grow up into the beautiful, if slightly temperamental, girl she became. There really is nothing quite like growin' yer own...
I liked it so much that, in 2000, when I decided that my gift to myself for finishing grad school would be a feline, I went in search of another kitten. That didn't exactly go as planned. When faced with kennel upon kennel of cats in need of homes, so many having been there for longer than I even cared to think about, I left the kitten room. There was no doubt that they would be adopted. There were others that needed me more.
I came home with an 8 year old. Not even close to kitten-hood. In fact, I came home with an 8 year old who had not had a particularly happy life up to that point and maybe even had some extra health issues to boot. I named her Persephone because I thought that the myth fit with the circumstances.
You know her as The Big, Fluffy Kitty.
And no, I will not have her for as long as I might have had a kitten. But the time together has been all the more precious because of that, I think. And even now, with her twilight years upon us, I have never once regretted extending my hand to stroke that oddly shaped, multi-toed paw reaching out to me from between the bars that morning.
I will probably never have another kitten. I can live with that. The shelters are filled with older animals, many of whom have years and years ahead of them and lots of love to give to the right family. You won't find me in the kitten room. I know that they will be OK. There is always someone looking for a kitten. But the older cats, in spite of being more settled into their personalities and ideal for so many homes, are less likely to find their place in the world.
Hard to imagine, though....
Saying that the U.S. economy is tanking right now would be about the kindest way you could put it. A tragic side effect of this is that homes are being foreclosed on at an alarming and ever-increasing rate. As a result, family pets are being surrendered regularly to shelters. Worse, some are simply abandoned when their humans move on and they are left to fend for themselves. The lucky ones are still able to find their way to shelters, but space is becoming ever more limited in these facilities. The situation here in Maine is no different. I was discussing this with The Cat Whisperer during the AGK's first check-up and she told me that she is placing animals herself at this point rather than referring people to the shelter. She is also volunteering her own time to go with people who want to adopt to help them select the right cat and do an exam right there.
I would urge anyone who is thinking about adding a new furry friend to the family to please consider an older cat. Of course, this is a personal choice and I have no ill-will towards anyone who wants a little kitten. God knows they are hard to resist! But I can say from personal experience that the rewards of making room for these adult kitties are plentiful. Adult cats are a little more comfortable in their own skin, less on the wild side and can be wonderful companions. They also have litter box experience. That alone should give you cause for consideration! And, as Prometheus has proven repeatedly over the last month, they can still have enough of the kitten in 'em to keep life interesting!
If you are thinking of adoption or are wishing to support animals in need, there is, no doubt, an animal shelter facility near you. For those of you in my area, there are many wonderful resources for you to try. The two with whom I have had personal experience and can vouch for comfortably are:
The Animal Welfare Society of Kennebunk (They took care of my Big, Fluffy Kitty until we could find each other)
The Animal Refuge League Of Greater Portland (Please note that they have extended their "clearance" prices on cats. Adults under ten years are $25.00, Cats ten and older or with special needs are eligible for a waived fee. Adoption fees include vaccinations, spay/neuter, follow up exam, and microchipping with a free year of service)
If you are not in the market for a pet right now but would like to help animals in your area, most shelters would gladly accept donations and volunteers. However, I would strongly urge you to review their website or contact them first to be sure of what they need or are able to accept in the way of donations. A kind gesture is one thing...a useful one is better, right?
If you want to learn more about how you can help families make good choices for their pets during relocation, please check out this program being funded by The Humane Society Of The United States.
There. That should do it. I feel that I have marked the occasion of our one month anniversary appropriately. Wait...just one thing left to do. All Absurdly Gi-normous Kitties who also happen to be very handsome should get a kiss on the noggin for their anniversary...