Reigning cats and dogs
Monday, July 22, 2019 at 05:44PM

Do you remember our Fourth-of-July surprise in the form of an abandoned kitten?

I named her Velvet and fed her catmilk from a carton, with a bottle.

Well. She died.

We did all right on Thursday (the day TG discovered her by the door between the deck and the garage). We did fine on Friday, and okay on Saturday.

On the Friday, I went in person (without Velvet) to the local high-dollar shelter (after calling a few others) and was told that I could make an appointment through the web site, to bring her in for "assessment."

First I would have to fork over a significant amount of money. Then, if she were deemed "adoptable," they would take her, but only after I had fostered her for a few weeks and attempted to find her a home.

I won't go into the reasons this plan was unacceptable to me; just believe me when I say, it wasn't the money.

So I decided to keep Velvet. I'd never owned a cat but I figured, God gave me a motherless one so it was my responsibility to take care of her.

On the Sunday night after we'd taken her in on Thursday, Velvet began declining to eat.

Throughout Monday, she outright refused to eat. I did manage to get a few drops down her at each feeding, but it was a struggle. She'd clamp her jaws and turn her face from side to side until the sticky formula ran down the sides of her neck.

On the Tuesday morning, TG went to the store and bought a different formula, and a different method of getting it into her -- a plunger-type syringe.

I'd literally prop her jaws open with the hard edge of the syringe -- so that she couldn't close her mouth and force the liquid out -- and give her no choice but to take a tiny bit at a time.

But I guess it was too late because, by that evening, it was obvious she wasn't going to make it.

I hope no one judges me for not running to a veterinarian and incurring hundreds of dollars in charges, to perhaps save the kitten's life.

I researched online and found that there's something called Fading Kitten Syndrome, in which the creature simply loses the will to thrive, and one by one its life support mechanisms shut down.

Whether that's what happened or not, we will never know. I do know that I was overwhelmed and out of my depth in caring for her, and that could have had something to do with her demise.

Even so, it was sorrow rather than guilt that led to what happened next.

After crying myself to sleep on the night Velvet died, I watched from the sunroom the next morning as TG buried her in our fence-corner Weber Pet Cemetery which contains Buckley and Javier.

It's watched over by a kneeling chalk-white headless cherub (the head is nearby) and a standing greenish-resin angel.

I had already ordered a Tidy Cat Breeze litter pan for Velvet, and had been planning on training her to use it.

When I clicked on Amazon to return the litter box, they processed my return but told me to keep the item.

? ? ? ? ?

I know it sometimes happens, but still I thought: Is this a sign? I don't need a litter box; I don't have a cat.

Yes; I realize I could have donated it to one of the shelters, but this litter box is pretty special. As such things go. A bell here, a whistle there.

That's when I began -- out of curiosity -- looking at cats online, on the site of the Columbia Humane Society, where I first saw Rizzo's picture. 

(He was named Stevie during the days he spent at the shelter.)

Early last week, I began noticing a tuxedo cat named Trunk.

At the Humane Society, all of the animals have been spayed or neutered, have had their first shots, have been de-wormed, and have received Home Again microchips.

The critters cost just thirty-five dollars.

By last Thursday, I had a definite urge to go out there and meet Trunk.

(Actually, I had been equally captivated by a feline named Sparrow -- also black and white in color. But when I arrived and asked for Sparrow, she was having a surgery for complications from her original surgery, and was not available.)

The lady at the desk advised me to go and sit in the main cat room and "see who reacts to you."

So I did, not knowing what to expect.

This is because, for my entire life, as you know, I have been a dog person. 

Until a few days ago, trust me: the thought of me owning a cat would have been on a par with me becoming a ballerina, or something similarly insanely ridiculously unlikely.

It's not that I didn't like cats; I just had no frame of reference. 

Well. I do now.

Because the moment I walked into the cat room, Trunk stood on her long legs and fixed her bright yellow eyes on my face. She is beautiful and petite, and that helped.

I approached and she began pressing her head against the bars of the spacious built-in crate (in two entire walls of such holding devices, all containing hopeful homeless cats), of which she was the sole occupant.

I unlatched the door and picked her up. We sat on the bench and she curled in my lap, purring.

And I -- I, a lifelong dog person, I who already own an adored and doted-upon, spoiled-rotten rescued canine unit -- fell in love. With a CAT.

? ? ? ? ?

Who can explain it? Not me. So I will not try. If you don't know, then you haven't experienced it and there's no sense discussing it.

So I filled out the papers; I paid the thirty-five dollars. I retrieved Javier's old crate from my sweltering car and placed Trunk inside.

(Why was she crate-named Trunk? Because about a month ago, she was discovered by police in the trunk of a stolen car. True story. She scraped the top of her nose trying to get out.)

On the way home, I thought about what I'd call her. My new as-yet-nameless cat was calm in the crate as we drove. It was just shy of one hundred degrees outside.

We stopped at the local pet supply store -- the same one we visited with Rizzo, on the frigid January day in 2017 when TG and I brought him home from the same shelter.

My nine-month-old rescue cat peered out from the crate as I bought her a bed and a scratching post and some dishes and food (both wet and dry) to put in them, and cat treats, and a few toys, and a pirate-themed collar with a dainty black bell.

By the time we reached home, my cat had a name.

She's Sweetness.

In keeping with our tradition of naming pets after favorite athletes, I named my cat after another legend of Chicago sports.

(My dog is named for Chicago Cubs slugger and first baseman extraordinaire, Anthony Rizzo).

Extra credit if you can tell me who Sweetness is named after.

But she is indeed sweet. The sweetest cat I can imagine. She loves to curl or stretch beside me, purring and snoozing, gazing into my eyes every now and then, and blinking if I remove my hand from her soft fur.

Now, as I sit in my recliner to write, with Rizzo on one side and Sweetness on the other (they're tolerating one another well, mostly by ignoring each other), it remains to be seen whether I'll ever get anything done again.

(I ordered Sweetness a luxurious cat condo/crate with four separate levels for doing whatever she needs to do. Even when I leave the doors (upper and lower level) open, she likes to lounge around in there and that's where she's napping now, so that I can write this for you.)

She loves to walk along the ledge of the sun room, looking out of the windows at the squirrels and birds. 

She enjoys chasing her toys around the floor, and jumping up on the furniture.

She's extremely fastidious, eats well, is not particularly vocal, and seems to be content in her sunroom world (I doubt I'll allow her to roam the house).

It's all a blur

Most of all, Sweetness loves me. It's obvious. And it humbles me because truly, I did nothing to deserve that.

Be that as it may, I consider her a gift from God.

And I love her very much in return.

And that is all for meow now.


Happy Monday :: Happy New Week

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