One recent Saturday, my husband and I got up late and decided to go for brunch with our pal PJ before settling in on the couch for a weekend of inertia. First, though, we had to load up on cat litter for Miss Uppity Tibbs, our grumpy, mostly toothless polydactyl old lady tabby, and Ambrose Hoffman, our 2-year-old tuxedo pest. (I mean that affectionately, of course.)
We adopted Ambrose from the SPCA last year after our senior kitties, Frisbee and Hammett, died within a month of each other. Uppity enjoyed the peace and quiet after they were gone, but she was seriously unimpressed when we got Ambrose. She just wants to be our only cat, but we’ve always wanted more than one, so she adapts, mostly by finding the highest perch in the room and hissing whenever Ambrose bounces in.
That week, we had been catsitting for Catster columnist Mina, and it hadn’t been so difficult dealing with three cats again. So we’d discussed getting another cat sometime soon — preferably a mellow, older guy who wouldn’t rip the place up or get in Uppity’s face the way Ambrose does. My husband was amenable, but said he thought we should wait until after we visited his family in October, which was fine with me.
When we arrived at Pet Food Express, my husband waited for a parking spot while PJ and I headed in. The store always has six or seven cats in condos who are available for adoption via San Francisco ACC, and occasionally dog adoptions sponsored by the likes of Muttville.
I can never resist checking out the kitties, so we strolled over there for a quick look. Cute kittens clambering over each other — check. Aloof cross-eyed Siamese — check. Then I saw an enormous ginger fluffy cat who filled his tiny perch so completely that his fur was squashed against the window.
The cage card said the cat’s name was Jamie, and that he was 6. This handsome boy’s eyes were half-closed, but he wasn’t dozing — he was casually checking out everything around him, including us. He looked thoroughly serene. I was entranced, and told PJ so before we walked away to the cat litter section.
My husband arrived two minutes later and caught up with us. “Great cat over there. The orange one,” he said. My heart skipped. “Yup,” I said a little too casually. “Big and fluffy and mellow, just like you wanted.” Then I couldn’t contain myself and yelled, “I WANT HIM!” To my surprise, my husband said, “Well, let’s see if we can meet him. I like his vibe.” A staffer told us an ACC volunteer would be in soon to let us meet Jamie, so I gave her my phone number and we decided to go out for lunch and think about it.
We headed to the It’s Tops diner around the corner. I was exultant. “We’re getting him today,” I said. PJ laughed. My husband laughed. “Right now?” he said. “Well, after lunch,” I adjusted.
I began laying out why it would be easy. Jamie was already a mellow cat, so he would probably settle in quickly. We could keep him away from Ambrose and Uppity by setting up his food and litter box in the bedroom. And Mina was going home on Tuesday, so we’d have yet another room for Jamie to hang out in.
ACC volunteer Damon called back to tell me that Jamie had been surrendered just last week and had no apparent health issues. As we suspected from our first impression, he was indeed a sweetie, and quite the favorite of the Pet Food Express folks. So back we went.
Damon beckoned us into the small visitation room and brought out an enormous furry ball and poured the very pliant cat into my arms. It was like receiving a Slinky made of Jello and covered in deep-pile velvet. Jamie protested a little with a creaky meow, but immediately settled onto my lap and began purring. My husband reached out to pet Jamie and received a super-enthusiastic nose boop. That was all it took.
Damon told us that other people had expressed an interest in Jamie, so we should probably decide now whether we wanted to take him. My husband and I grinned at each other and he sighed. “I guess we have a new cat!” As we filled out the paperwork, a couple of staffers dropped by to say goodbye to Jamie. “He’s so sweet!” one gal said. “We all love him.”
It took all three of us to get the reluctant cat (plus the doughnut bed he was apparently very attached to) into a cardboard carrier that was barely big enough for him. He gave a few more creaky meows on the journey home, but once we got back to our house he unfurled himself from the box and leaped into the middle of the bed, where he turned around three times and sat down, looking unperturbed. He is indeed a mellow cat. We agreed that Jamie was too casual a name for this sedate little lion-cat; my husband suggested Gentleman Jim as a temporary name, and it seems to have stuck.
So now we’re a three-cat household again, with all the extra feeding and scooping and petting that entails. Gentleman Jim is settling in, with supervised visits to meet the other two. Amazingly, Uppity has tolerated him from the beginning, even sleeping near him on the couch. Ambrose stares at him whenever he’s in the room (see picture above), but hasn’t figured out to make Jim into a playmate. I think he’ll have to settle for a silent observer.
All in all, we’re a very happy household. All the same, I don’t think I’ll be be going to Pet Food Express again anytime soon. I can’t stop thinking about that cute cross-eyed Siamese …
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