I don't know why I chose Saturday to go visit with the kitties at the Animal Refuge League. I mean, it's not like I don't have a plethora of other days from which to choose. I am on summer vacation, for crying out loud! There was no need for me to be heading out into the heat and holiday weekend traffic. But that was the day it all just felt...right.
Suddenly, it was like being in a time warp. It wasn't exactly two years to the day, but it was darned close. And there I was. In the same overcrowded shelter. Standing next to the same crate. With the same adoption counselor. And gazing into the eyes of a big ol' cat who maybe was or wasn't "the one."
It all worked out the last time, though. So I did it again. I said, "Yes. I want him." And that was that. Except not really.
The shelter is in dire straits right now. They are out of room and literally giving cats away. The staff can't keep up but are doing their level best to make sure that everyone finds their match. My cat was a tough sell and I know they were thrilled to find a home for him. But it wasn't easy. He comes with...issues. And this required some discussion. This is his second try at finding his Forever Home. His last family returned him to the shelter with little in the way of information, ten extra pounds and a severe case of struvite crystals requiring a prescription diet. Under the hectic circumstances, this information was given to me pretty clearly, but rushed all the same. Soon, it was time to take him home.
For the record, it is a very bad sign when the adoption counselor mutters, "I hope he goes into the carrier without any trouble and doesn't make me look stupid..."
It took two volunteers to wrangle him into the carrier. He had to use the one I brought because he wouldn't fit in the cardboard version they hand out. I stood in the background and flapped my hands because it was the most helpful thing I could think of in that moment. I like to think of myself as a team player. After an epic struggle, the carrier was zipped shut and the velcro flap secured. I was now ready to lug my seventeen pound flame point Siamese to the car for his ride home.
I'll just let you sit with that for a minute. Seventeen pound Siamese. Ponder it. Feel free to shake your head at my folly if it so pleases you. You will be feeling quite justified in a moment.
Before I got to the door, the adoption counselor flagged me down and handed me a plastic packet. This, she explained, was his medicine. He needs it twice daily. For anxiety. I'd have stood there with my mouth agape for a while, but you can't hold a seventeen pound Siamese for any real length of time. You have to adjust.
I struggled to the car and hoisted the carrier to the back seat. The kitty was making his displeasure known in a variety of ways, but mostly through thrashing and yowling. He'd be OK once I got him home, though. I just had to make it a little bit further. In addition to being a team player, I am also an optimist.
We pulled away from the shelter. Before the building was even out of sight, I heard the sound of tearing velcro. That was disturbing. But it paled in comparison to the horror I felt when I heard the distinctive hiss of a zipper. It was like something out of the TV version of The Incredible Hulk. You don't want to make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...
"Oh, gracious!" I cried as I realized what was happening.
That's not true. What I really said was, "HOLY S**T!!!!!" But I don't want anyone to think I am a bad kitty mother so I left that part out.
Before I knew it, my rear view mirror was filled with seventeen pounds of panicked Siamese. Big blue eyes were blazing at me and a mouthful of fangs were bared in my direction. He'd managed to get onto the the top of the back seat and balance himself with equal parts fat hanging from either side. Between that and his claws digging into the upholstery, he was well seated for travel and tormenting.
I gave some thought to turning around and going back to the shelter for help, but it seemed safer to just proceed. Maybe he'd calm down. If nothing else, I'd eventually end up back home and closer to the front door. I drove as carefully as I could, not so much for his sake as for mine. He is very well padded. In a collision, he'd do just fine. I, on the other hand, would have seventeen pounds hitting me squarely in the back of my head and would probably not survive impact.
The ride felt like weeks. If you've never heard the squalling cry of a Siamese, you will have to use your imagination as far as the soundtrack goes. Suffice it to say, he was audible. Obviously, I was in no position to record the moment for posterity, but I would imagine you could find an image or two. Just do a search for "white knuckled woman in a station wagon with wild eyed, snarling, tongue-hanging-out feline." I'm fairly certain I saw one or two cell phones whipped out in the cars I passed on the Maine Turnpike.
At long last, we arrived home. Now what? Should I open the door? Will he run? There was nothing to do but give it a shot. I carefully eased the door open. He didn't move. I tried to nudge him back towards the carrier. No way. Finally, I just picked him up. And that was that. He relaxed happily into my arms and let me lug him to the door. Just like that.
But now I had another problem: how to get him inside and safely past the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty. I doubted that the AGK was going to be happy about this interloper and I had a file folder full of information telling me how best to introduce these two to one another with a minimum of bloodshed. How was I going to do that if the new kitty wasn't in his carrier? He needed to be safely in his carrier! It says so! Right in the blue folder!!!
I was out of options. I abandoned my purse and other traveling accessories in the driveway, tucked the enormous ball of fur under my arm like a football, assumed what I thought might be a reasonable quarterback stance and took a deep breath. I opened the front door and made a run for the bathroom, gracefully dodging the AGK and depositing my burden behind a closed door. Panting, I made my way back down to retrieve the rest of my belongings.
I returned to discover that I'd made a serious error in judgement. There was a pair of sweatpants hanging from the bathroom door. It was not closed. It was open just enough to allow two pairs of noses to touch. I brandished the blue folder in protest.
No! I have a folder! There are twenty five pages in here and they are stapled. Stapled! In a certain order! That means we have a procedure to follow and you are already at step fourteen. We can't BE at step fourteen yet. It's only been two and a half minutes!!!
It was futile. I had one gigantic cat on one side of the door who wanted out and one gigantic cat on the other who wanted in. I am but one woman. The battle was lost. Besides, at this rate I was going to have to start drinking soon and that would mean I'd need to use the bathroom anyway. I did what I could to hold back the AGK and carefully eased the door open.
There was one hiss and a couple of raised paws. This was followed by more of the nose touching and a good deal of butt sniffing. This, I can only assume is the male feline equivalent of the fist bump. And that was that. Kitties can't read folders, blue or otherwise. They were now buddies.
It was this brilliant taming of the mighty orange beast that made me think of kitty's new name. He may be a Very Complicated Kitty, but he is Androcles in my eyes after that brilliant display of negotiation.
Within an hour, I had two pot-bellied cats yowling at me in the kitchen for dinner. After two, the AGK was helping the poor chubby boy with his grooming. That evening, they began engaging in some good natured wrestling that left me cringing and having to repeat over and over, "boys will be boys...boys will be boys..."
Mostly, though, they just hang out.
Sometimes, they compare belly size.
They've mastered the S Is For Super pose
And channeled their inner cheerleaders enough to do the T Is For Terrific one, too.
It all worked out. On Thursday, we'll head back to the vet so she can take a look at the Very Complicated Kitty and make some recommendations for me. I'd like to think I can get him off the anxiety meds now that he is settled in his new home, but time will tell if he's ready to start weaning off them. I just need to take care of one thing before we go, though.
I need a new carrier. Preferably something in iron or kryponite...