Cats to me are like people. They’re individuals. Some I like more than others. I want all of them to have good homes, but I know they can’t all have my good home. So I don’t look at cat-adoption sites. I can’t. (OK, I do sometimes.) But I can’t look often. Even if I want only some cats, "some" would quickly become "way the heck too many." I’d have "HOARDER" written on my forehead in Big Black Sharpie, and my co-workers would write posts about the group rescue they staged at my house.
"We had no idea!" they’d write.
Other things tell me to defer cat adoption. Here are five reasons why I’m not getting another cat ÔÇª yet.
I consider Thomas my friend. I wrote him a love letter on Valentine’s Day. But as I outlined in that letter, we took to each other slowly. Even though we’ve given ourselves to each other in that mysterious cat-human way, our relationship is still growing and developing.
Thomas is a loving and well-behaved cat in so many ways. He doesn’t whiz in the house. He’s barfed indoors only once in almost a year. He’s friendly toward visitors. He loves the cat-sitter and is calm when my girlfriend, Daphne, and I are out of town.
Just the same, I’m being vigilant about my connection with Thomas. He still does some things that I haven’t yet figured out (which is to say, he meows demandingly sometimes and I’m not sure why), so I’m adjusting play and sleep schedules (among other things) to see what happens. He and I still have work to do. I want to be the only man in his life, and him the only cat in mine.
Thomas suffered before we knew him. A couple of years ago, a friend of Daphne’s found him outside on a freezing rainy night. He was skinny and making a lot of noise. He looked to be about a year old. This friend has a dog who chases cats, so she put Thomas in her garage knowing that she couldn’t keep him, but also wanting to get him out of the cold and the rain. Daphne learned of this and offered to foster Thomas. She took him to the vet, as he was clearly not well. It was there that Thomas "chose" Daphne.
"They took him in the back to examine him and returned him to me covered in alcohol gel for some reason, looking completely pitiful and sad," she said. "He immediately climbed into my arms, tucked his head under my sweater, and cuddled into me so tightly. There was no way I could give him up after that."
Thomas adapted well, but in the next year he lost a lot of friends. Cleo and Katie were older kitties who lived in the house at the time. Both of them died of age-related causes within six months of Thomas’ arrival. There was also Chelsea (a gentle Golden Retriever who loved Thomas) and Finn (an older long-haired cat) who both left when a roommate moved out. Also in there were two foster puppies.
Thomas has shown signs of feline hyperesthesia syndrome, which, as reported by JaneA Kelley, is a condition in which a cat "will sometimes get wild-eyed and just go nuts, almost as if she’s hallucinating. She’ll cry and yowl loudly, may have bizarre mood swings, her skin may ripple as if even the air hurts her, and she might have sudden fits of grooming herself like crazy."
It has been more than a year since Thomas has done anything like this, but Daphne and I want to give him more time to be the only cat in his domain. We’ve learned that for Thomas, keeping household stress levels low (including minimizing change) helps lessen his tendency toward this.
My life story will be titled "A Love Affair with the Spinning Wheel of Chance." I grew up in the invisible nomadic tribe of the military family. I took up journalism because I never wanted to stop learning. Experimentation and adventure move me, whether it’s physical, psychological, artistic, intellectual, or metaphysical. I’m good at dealing with big change, but this year has taken some rough turns. Namely, my mom has had a series of strokes and is fighting mental health problems in assisted living. This began a few months after I initiated a big relationship change and moved house. This followed the death of a close friend.
Right now I need more "same" in my life. I’m doing well with Thomas, but I fear another cat would be too much. I want to be the man he needs in his life, not a bucket of stress and impatience.
Thomas is a four(ish)-year-old boy cat. Would he do OK with a younger cat? Another male? An older female? A kitten? What kind of cat goes best with a well-behaved boy cat his age? What kind of cat might send him over the edge? What kind of cat might he send over the edge? Would he prefer to be alone? How would I make a transition easier? Before any calculated adoption takes place, I want to answer those questions.
Cats find people, and they find people who can accommodate a cat (whether the people know it or not).
Tiger Lily was a cat Daphne and I found underneath an apartment building where we lived. She was spayed, and she behaved like she’d been someone’s pet. We took her in and attempted to locate her owner. We believed we were in no position to have another cat, but when no owner came forward and our other cat grew to tolerate (and eventually like) her, we called Tiger Lily our own.
She wasn’t the only "emergency cat" I’ve inherited. Two others were named Fraidy and Hobbes. An ex’s sister and husband planned to move out of state. The night before they left, they called and said, "We’ve decided not to take the cats. You can have them if you want. Otherwise we’ll stop at the shelter on the way out of town."
I know it’s not time for me to get another cat, but I also know fate happens. And if it does, I don’t want to have closed the door on it by getting a cat who wasn’t the right cat.
What about you? Where have your cats come from? What were the circumstances? Did you know it was time? Have you had times when you knew it wasn’t right? Talk to me in the comments.
As our Cat Dandy goes rolling along:
About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is associate editor at Catster and Dogster.