What are you looking at, Halfpint?
This venerable gentleman, Spuds, is one of my new best friends (although he may or may not be thrilled with that title). I have signed up to write copy for a cat rescue group, Kitty Connection, and today I took full advantage of the director’s invitation to spend time socializing the cats.
To be entirely honest, a large part of what drew me to spend some of my day with cats is that I have resigned my position and am looking to refocus my career path. I’m in the market for a challenging new position and I welcome suggestions, should anyone have knowledge of interesting opportunities. Working with Kitty Connection is a step toward engaging my more creative side as well as toward healing some of the overextended, exhausted parts of me that want to just curl up in bed and never look at a computer screen or a spreadsheet ever again. Today, a pre-scheduled day off, I was desperate for some simple, hands-on, not-involving-Microsoft interaction.
The other thing that brought me back to the shelter after my introduction to the cats this past Monday was this gorgeous creature:
When I arrived at the shelter Monday evening, straight from the difficult decision to move forward with my career and the nerve-wracking experience of submitting my first resignation, this wonderful fellow besieged my dangling arm with all manner of nuzzles. He purred and he flipped and he snuggled and he purred some more. Standing by the cat tree and petting him was the single most relaxing thing I have done in years. His name is Abraham and I love him. He was every bit as affectionate and cuddly today as he was on Monday and I think I love him even more.
And then there’s this wonderful young man:
This is Tiger. While I was learning the basics of the shelter from the director, Tiger was almost adopted by a family with a young child. I honestly thought he would have a new home when I came back today! He is calm, has a wonderfully rumbly deep purr, and while he was clearly delighted to have someone skritching his shoulder he seemed truly happy with something as simple as leaning his forehead against mine. He has chubby cheeks that I want to cradle in my hands forever.
My family always had pets while I was growing up, everything from a chocolate lab to a frog. We had a Persian cat for years who for some reason tolerated me but no one else (and I was NOT an easy child for any animal to live with, with my obsessive YOU MUST LOVE ME tendencies). A while after getting rid of the (so they say) awful Persian, my parents surprised my sister and me with tuxedo kittens for Christmas. I have an incredible soft spot for tuxedos. There was no way I was going to let this beauty hide away in the back of the cage:
No matter how shy cats are, it’s entirely worth while to coax them from the back corners of their dens for a little love. The cuddling may be brief but that quiet little purr is entirely rewarding.
Some cats require a little advance planning. Cats like Honey.
Honey is gorgeous. She’s young and she’s a typical demanding calico who wants your attention NOW when she wants it and wants you to disappear to Pluto when she doesn’t want you around. She also seems to be the source of enough fur to coat three cats. At least, I’m pretty sure that I could have made an entirely new kitten from the hair that was clinging to my shirt and pants after ten minutes of playing and petting. She is utterly delightful. I did rather wish I’d thought to bring a change of clothing after snuggling with her, though.
And then, THEN! There’s Mr. Climberpants. I believe his real name is Cody but I shall call him Shoulder Cat.
This afternoon, Shoulder Cat had a near desperation to be held. He stretched up and batted at my thigh with his big, polydactyl paws and butted my hands with his head. When I picked him up, he set about rubbing his face all over my chin and shoving his fur up my nose. I couldn’t stop giggling as I held him! When he decided he would get a better vantage point of the room from my shoulder, though, I realized that maybe my arms were not the best place for him. While I can see how it would appear to be a perfectly reasonable path, to a cat, clawing his way to my shoulder via my chest was not my ideal route for him to take.
The sad thing about a cat rescue group is the simple fact that cats have needed to be rescued. Some are so nervous around humans that my unfamiliar presence made them refuse to leave the cat tree for food.
There was a gorgeous black cat tucked into a spacious crate who wanted nothing to do with me. He hissed in fear every time one of the other cats approached his cage (Honey, of course, found him fascinating and kept trying to stick her paws into his space). While I was there, word came around that there was a big rescue operation going on in a neighboring town and thirty cats had been rounded up. A volunteer was already on her way to pick up four of them to bring back to Kitty Connection.
Other cats were simply uninterested in me. There was a marmalade who blinked up at me once or twice and opted to return to his nap rather than come out to receive attention. There was a regal black cat who stared haughtily down at me from her window well perch. There was an elderly gray short-hair who watched everything impassively from atop a small filing cabinet. He was willing enough to receive some gentle skritches but showed no desire to seek them out.
And there was Chuck.
Once he finally deigned to sniff my hand and decided that I was allowed to pet him, this boy engaged in a thoroughly hilarious dance of rolling and twisting and twitching. Half the time, it seemed as though he was perfectly capable of getting a passable experience of “petting” out of squirming around in his chosen tree. I think he liked having an audience to show off for more than he cared about having a hand to stroke his fur.
I am an obsessive animal person. One of the biggest disappointments of college was that I wasn’t allowed to have a pet in the dorms. Once I got out of the dorms and into apartment life, I realized that supporting myself meant that I couldn’t afford to keep a pet. The cat I had left at home with my parents passed away while I was in grad school and I was too raw to think about a companion animal for a while. Working full-time earned me barely enough money to feed myself, let alone another creature. Now that I’m living on my own, my resources and my time are so stretched that it would be nothing but cruel to have so much as a fish tank. Working with Kitty Connection is something that I think I have desperately, deeply, needed.
Cats are fascinating creatures. I know my sister would dispute me on this, since she’s never really been crazy about cats to begin with and grew to loathe them when she became a homeowner whose lawn was widely regarded as a public litterbox. I, on the other hand, adore their unique personalities and their vast array of quirks. I am what might be called “violently” allergic to cats but the moment I see one I have to use all of my restraint to keep from picking it up and burying my face in its fur. I love dogs as well but there’s an entertainment value in a cat that few dogs I have encountered could hope to match.
Cats are a puzzle. They are stimulated by the most bizarre, random things and react unpredictably to things they have encountered a dozen times before. They are a source of never ending delight to me.
And, really, what human isn’t jealous of the ability to purr?