When Sarah agreed to write a guest post for me she was unsure what to write about. I mentioned my feature How We Met but really I was open to anything she felt inspired to write. Soon I got an email saying, "The story of how I met my husband isn't exciting (even to me and I am married to him) so I decided to write about how I met my baby cat." Being an animal lover (and having a fun how I met my cat story) I was so excited. Met Sarah and Violet.
It was three days before Christmas 2010 and I was in tears. I’d just held one of my best friends as he slipped away from this life and while I knew he was also slipping away from pain and disease I missed him immediately. Jimmy was a ten-year-old stray cat who’d been my friend from his kitten years all the way until blood clots claimed his life. I was heartbroken, but it was another friend who was truly aching. Jimmy had a brother – an enormous yellow tabby named Julius who’d live with Jimmy all his life. When I’d left Jimmy at the vet the night before he died, Julius responded by crying forlornly and searching for his four-legged pal room by room into the wee hours of the morning.
As I held Jimmy for the last time I knew the greatest difficulty would be going home empty-handed to a creature who loved his brother and to whom I’m couldn’t explain what had happened. I shared this concern with the veterinarian. She had been so kind throughout the ordeal and said gently to me “maybe Julius needs a kitten for Christmas”. It was the last thing I expected to hear. Everyone was telling me to take my time mourning Jimmy and that someday I could get another cat when it felt right and here was the vet, planting the idea that a kitten was OKAY because my other cat needed a companion.
I was sold immediately. And so, off to the animal shelter I went with my now-husband in tow to look for a new kitten to give to Julius as a Christmas present. Only December isn’t exactly kitten season. There were three cats available who were under the age of 6 months: a pair of really energetic brother tabbies with kink tails and a 4-month-old cow cat who was cowering in terror in her cage.
I was immediately drawn to the brothers who were lively and friendly and started to talk with an adoption volunteer about them. She answered a few questions and then stopped me.
“Are you an experienced cat owner?” she asked.
“Well, I’ve never lived life without a cat, so I guess I’d say yes,” I answered.
“Let me tell you about this little girl over here, then,” she said, pointing to the frightened cow cat.
She proceeded to describe the little kittens weeks in the shelter, telling me how she and her siblings had been the only little kittens available for quite some time and as a result they’d been handled endlessly. The volunteer told me that the kitten’s siblings had slowly been adopted, one by one, until only one remained, and that one was exhausted and afraid and traumatized. The volunteer shared that the kittens had been fostered and were really quite personable and that all the little cow cat needed was a few days of rest, some good food, some patience and maybe even a big cat brother to show her the ropes. Besides, she said, it would be better for the kink-tailed brothers to be adopted together.
I was sold. The cow cat’s name at the shelter was “Bonnie”. She let me hold her for about 8 seconds and then squirmed out of my hands to hide under the bank of cages. While she hid, I ran to the adoption desk and “reserved” her so no one else could adopt her out from under me. Then we completed the necessary paperwork and returned to the kitten room where a couple was attempting to coax Bonnie out with a toy. I said “excuse me” and pushed past them, got down on all fours and dragged her protesting self out from under the cage. The man who’d been trying to play with her looked at me, disgusted.
“Um are you adopting her? Because we’re trying to play with her.”
“Yes,” I said, “She’s mine.”
He snorted. “Thanks for telling us,” he said sarcastically. I just smiled, holding Bonnie close to me, and thought aren’t you glad you’re not going to live with that jerk?
We wrangled Bonnie into a box, but not before renaming her. She had – and has – such a pretty feminine face and delicate little paws that “Violet” fit her to a tee. As the volunteer predicted, Violet hid from us for days, terrified of Julius and not interested in cuddles. Still, we fed her good food and talked to her in soothing voices and let her “meet” with Julius through the bathroom door. On the third day, Violet mustered a calculated toe attack against us while we lay in bed, running in delight back to a bunker under the dresser when we tried to catch her. On the fifth day, Violet snuggled up next to Julius for a nap. Over 500 days later, she cuddles constantly, talks incessantly and is a delight in our lives.
I can’t help but think that Jimmy left his best qualities behind for Violet to absorb and for that we’re blessed.
Sarah Pardieck is a board-certified foodie, stress-fueled runner, enthusiastically mediocre gardener, born and bred Southerner, 30-something, self-employed, etiquette-aholic, Army officer’s don’t-call-me-Army-Wife. She blogs at Notice the Dirt where she’s inspired by C.S. Lewis who said “It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence."
You can also follow her on Twitter.