A week ago last Friday, I was waxing enthusiastic with my co-workers about my upcoming road trip to visit my friend Robin in Connecticut. Of course, some time in the last month or so, I’d mentioned that Robin runs a cat rescue. My colleague, Lelia, had remembered this and said, “You know you’re going to come home with a cat, right?”
“No, I’m not coming home with a cat!” I insisted. Sure, Robin did happen to have a cat in her care that I happened to be interested in possibly adopting — if we got along, and certainly not until after I’d returned from my June vacation!
“You know you’re going to bring a cat home with you,” Lelia said.
But my denial remained strong. “I’m not even going to bring a cat carrier with me,” I said. “This is only the ‘discovery phase’ of the adoption process. I am not ready to bring a new cat home!”
The next day, with the full strength of my willpower on board, I set off for the five-hour journey that would take me to Robin’s home ÔÇª and cat rescue.
When I got there, Robin introduced me to her resident cats, plus a litter of kittens and their mother who were in the process of being vetted and spayed and made ready for adoption. Oh, and, of course, the cat I’d had my eye on — who, at the time, went by the name of Bobette.
Now, you have to understand: Bobette had had a very difficult life. A homeless teen mom rescued with her kittens from a desperately overburdened shelter in Georgia and transported north by a small group of people who makes it their purpose to save cats from the fate that surely would have awaited them if they’d had to stay in the deep south, she’d already had to deal with plenty of struggles in her young life.
Bobette’s kittens found homes, but it seemed Bobette had a bit of an attitude problem when it came to other cats. She’d even been snapping and hissing at her own kittens.
Robin knew that Bobette had suffered some kind of leg injury — X-rays from the Georgia shelter had shown that — but nobody really knew how serious her problem was until Robin took her back to the vet for further evaluation and discovered that the poor thing had a luxated patella. Her kneecap was literally around the side of her leg.
Well, no wonder she’d been so grouchy: she was in constant pain!
Bobette had surgery to repair her knee and then endured weeks in a cast, under strict cage-rest orders, while the initial healing took place. Even after she’d finished the first part of her recovery, Bobette still walked with a limp, which became more pronounced as she got tired.
I knew Robin would have a difficult time placing an adult cat with special needs, particularly one who would need a long, patient introduction to any cats in her new home.
And I thought about my pledge to adopt special-needs cats from now on.
And I’ll admit, Bobette had most assuredly found a place in my heart.
And then Dahlia died: so suddenly, and so brutally young, of such an awful disease.
I gave myself time to do my most acute grieving. Thomas and Siouxsie and I comforted one another through those initial weeks. And as the cloud of my bereavement began to lift, I started to feel how strangely empty the house seemed with only two cats in it.
I started talking to Siouxsie and Thomas, asking them how they’d feel about having a new little fur-sibling. The vibe I got back felt like “Okay.”
Of course, I did tell them I wouldn’t be bringing her home right away.
I had no idea that the little marmalade minx was gonna make a liar out of me!
As soon as I met Bobette, I felt the connection. No, I’m not bringing her home this weekend! I told myself. I know better than that. I’m not ready. I haven’t even set up a cat room yet!
But as the hours wore on and I continued to hang out with her, the bond only became stronger.
So, when Robin sat down with me after we came back from breakfast and asked, “So ÔÇª what are you thinking about Bobette?”
“I’ve totally fallen in love with her,” I lamented. Well, sort of lamented.
“Are you interested in taking her home?”
“Well, yes,” I said. “But I wasn’t planning to do that until after I came back from my vacation.”
Bobette wasn’t having any of that. She even ventured far past her comfort zone to sit in the living room and stare at me. I could literally hear her asking, “Do you want me? Do you want to be my mama?”
“I’d love to take her home with me,” I said. “But I didn’t bring a cat carrier, and I don’t know if she’ll do well in my home, and ÔÇª and ÔÇª and ÔÇª”
Robin, the consummate enabler, said, “We’ve got plenty of carriers. And, of course, you know that if you have any problems and it doesn’t work out, we’ll gladly take her back. We’ll even drive up to Maine and pick her up.”
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s do it.”
So I filled out the adoption paperwork. Robin brought out the carrier, got Bobette’s vet records together, and gave me a couple of cases of cat food to ease the transition to her new home. She pulled out a couple of Bobette’s favorite toys, we took a few last-minute photos, and before I even fully realized what had happened, I was flying north on I-84 in hopes of getting back home in time for a decent evening’s rest before going to work the next day.
The first hour of my time back home was totally occupied with throwing together a room where she could just chill for a couple of days before the introductions even began. So far the process of bringing the cats together is going pretty well. We’re at the stage of long periods of open-door time and only occasional screaming matches, and I hope that by the time I leave for my vacation, my kitty family will be fully integrated. If not, I’ve got an excellent cat sitter and I know she’ll be able to keep everyone safe and at least keep them from regressing.
So, everybody: please welcome Chrysanthemum Kiss-Kiss Bobette Jellylorum Kelley! Really, how could you not fall in love with that purr?
(In a reader? Watch the video here.)