OK, I'd better start writing before I get tired or forget the stories. This is a story of seven or eight cats and a whole lot of people.
Today I spent about two and a half hours at the SPCA (Pope Memorial) in Concord. While a bit far afield for my taste, I combined it with a trip to Michaels, on this side of the river, to pick up a couple more 3-packs of LP cover frames for that cabinet doors project. No, really, I promise to stay on topic.
And today's topic, since this is the internet, is cats. I am going to break this up into four (oops five) parts, since I have photos of four cats.
As I was planning the trip (which went very well - it took me barely an hour to get to Concord, pick up the frames, bushwhack my way across the city, and get to the shelter), I had made a list of cats I thought I would like to visit. And, damn, cats in shelters sure have stupid names.
There were three black ones - Dargo, Mars, and Taffy - a grey one named Tribok (what?), and two "Brownies" - Fluffy Brownie and Not-Fluffy Brownie.
When I arrived, a volunteer and her daughter had Taffy out. The cats are all in two-section wood and plexiglass cubbies, and only one is let loose at a time. One is requested to wash ones hands, a la Semmelweiss, between cats. Yes, we spent a few minutes discussing the development of simple hygiene in the health-care field, and who did and didn't get credit for it.
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy talking to strangers yet?
So, Taffy, about an 8 pound, 8 year-old female, was gloriously friendly and fun. And also "On Hold". Actually, most of the cats on my list were on hold. I set my efforts to finding out, bit by bit, what level of "hold" was on these various cats, so I could tell if I should still meet them and potentially put myself in a queue for them.
This is going to take forever to type. Here are a couple of photos of Taffy:
As we played with Taffy, I learned a bit more about the "holds" and a bit more about the cats that were at the shelter today. It turns out that several were from a so-called "hoarder" and might be a bit shy, and even underweight.
Both the other black cats - Dargo and Mars - were marked as being held, and were expected to be picked up this evening.
So I decided I wanted to check out the Brownies. Brownie the Not-Fluffy turned out to be very shy, so I decided to leave her alone in her quiet, and proceeded to visit with Brownie of the Fluffiness. This little 4 year-old, seven pound male was easily Taffy's equal in outgoing friendliness and general appetite for affection.
Meanwhile, a woman was engaging with Tripod. Tripod was born special - missing a forelimb - and was also quite shy. But she was patiently interacting with him while we used Fluffy Brownie to clean the entire cat room floor before he even started to settle down to play with us.
He was certainly a darling. Unfortunately, for me anyway, he was also on hold, although I did not quite know the terms yet.
Here are a few gratuitous photos of him being a complete idiot:
OK, this is the part where I had to confront one of the hardest aspects of a decision like the one I am making. We had put Brownie of the Fangs and Fluffiness back in his apartment, so I could check out Jimmy. Jimmy is a ten-pound, 5 year-old male in black and white livery. Mostly black on top and white underneath.
Jimmy was yet another glutton for scratches, backrubs, tail pulling, and also very, very curious about everything that was not necessarily any of his business.
I think by the end of my visit I had brought him out on three separate occasions, by the last I was just reaching in and grabbing him and hoisting him to my shoulder.
From the cat room, there is a windowed door through another room that has a window facing out into the main office area, where people were beginning to congregate. So, with Jimmy in my arms and our faces squished together, we made silly grins at some of those people. They all made silly faces back.
Meanwhile, that woman was still quietly petting Tripod. Taffy's new people came and got her. Fluffy Brownie's new people came and got him. I realized that the apartment with no visible cat in it (the litter/bedding area has no window) housed one I had written down - the unlikely Tribok.
So we put Jimmy away for a bit. Someone else wanted to bring a cat out to look at for a while.
And I had a dilemma. This Jimmy character was exactly how I want a cat to be - friendly, outgoing, inquisitive, only jumps on the kitchen counter when I am not looking - but aesthetically was not quite the avatar I had in mind. Now I know that some people will only have a Siamese, or a Chocolate Lab, and just deal with the personality they end up with, but behavior matters a lot to me. So do appearances, apparently.
Here are a bunch of photos of Jimmy being Jimmy.
Jimmy was away, and someone was looking at one of the "hoarder" cats, and the woman who was engaging with Tripod had decided to give him a home, along with her husband and three rats. Tripod found a home.
The family who were adopting Dargo had arrived to pick him up. Dargo is almost 17 pounds of pure muscle, and I swear was bigger than his little girl human adoptees. They were great with him, and and he clearly adored them. Definitely a perfect adoptive match.
His soon-to-be mother had a number of questions about cat care which I realized I knew the answers to. These would be about the sixth people today to mistake me for a volunteer, despite several real volunteers passing through for various amounts of time. But by now I pretty much knew all the cats and their stories.
A couple of young men came in and I tried to sell them Jimmy, but the cheapness of his affections did not seem to be their style. They weer focusing instead on Gidget (oops, I meant nine cats, not eight), another one of the "hoarder" cats, and a very shy 3 year-old who weighed barely over four pounds.
By now I was pretty much running the place. If asked a volunteer if something was ok they weren't even answering any more, they thought I was just testing them or something.
So I opened the appallingly badly named Tribok's litter/bed side door to see what was up with her. She seemed a little subdued, but was perfectly happy for me to scratch her head.
When we last left our story, I was carefully petting the somewhat shy and ridiculously named "Tribok", a 1 year-old sleek grey cat who tipped the scales at just over five pounds.
I asked, expecting to be ignored by anyone in particular, if it was ok if I experimented with picking her up and removing her from her condo. She did not protest as I maneuvered one hand under her butt and then the other carefully under her torso, and lifted.
I carefully pulled her towards me and brought her to the floor fairly quickly and smoothly in case she suddenly changed her mind about being held. Once there she seems to be quite happy to be petted a bit more aggressively - bigger head scratches, back scratches, tail "pulling", turn around and do it again.
She was relaxing, and fast. She spent a bit of time exploring the cat room, and then returned for more scratching. Eventually she was lolling around on the floor a bit, although we were being interrupted quite often by various people coming and going.
The two young men had decided to apply to adopt Gidget.
I decided to see how The Grey One would react to being picked up. Not badly at all, it turned out. I asked someone to unfold the step stool so I could sit down with her, and she seemed to enjoy standing on my legs while having her shoulders both patted and balanced. I let her go back to the floor for a bit.
There was a deadline looming - all adoption processing has to start before 6:30, and, yes, I had been there for two and a half hours hanging with the kitties and the strangers. I had to decide if Little Miss Grey Fur was going to want me to bring her home with me.
I picked her up again, and she was very easy with it, letting me support her, shift positions, and raise her up to my face. I held her up and we made silly faces at someone else in the room. They were certainly convinced, at any rate.
Here are a few more photos of my little Grey Poupon, or whatever she decides to tell me her real name is.
"As my daughter used to say as a toddler, she is very Beautiful and Lovely and Perfect." - A friend whose daughter's cat I cared for many years later.
© Huw Powell