Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why I Love National Cat Day

It's National Cat Day on October 29!  I've never paid attention to this cat holiday in the past, but after seeing my friends post photos of their pets all over social media every single day, why not share the cuteness of my adorable furry babies, all of whom have since passed over the Rainbow Bridge, except for Nala.  Most importantly, though, I want to celebrate their lives and to encourage pet adoption.  It's not just the right thing to do; adoption is a reward.
BIG PAW - Leader of the Pack
Big Paw was not the cutest cat on display at the San Diego Humane Society, but he was definitely the most unique.  He was a polydactyl, meaning he was born with extra digits on all four paws, although not all polydactyls are affected the same way.  Some polydactyls will have extra toes on one paw or two, but Big Paw had all four paws with extra toes.  He was the first cat to enter our home of two adults and three kids, and what a joy he was to us all! Besides being crazy playful, he loved to scare the crap out of us by walking the upstairs balcony rail.  Staring up at him with bated breath, Big Paw would stare back at us and walk the rail with ease.  Such a daredevil.  He was a smart cat, too. He knew how to open doors. Sometimes we'd resort to locking the doors if we didn't want him to gain entrance.  You were lucky if he let you hold him.  Big Paw decided when he was ready to be held, and when we did, he showed the love by purring so loudly.  We had him for 15 wonderful years. I was with him when he breathed his last breath, and it tore my heart apart.  I cried for days. We all did. Knowing the joy he brought us, he would not be our last cat.  Big Paw lived his life for us, and he left this world knowing he did his job.  Such a beautiful gift.

Born:                      August 1991
Adopted:              January 1992
Rainbow Bridge:   March 2007    

HERO - the Great Communicator
Hero was the second cat to enter our home.  He was one of maybe three or four cats at the Humane Society the night the kids and I decided it was time to adopt another cat.  We felt Big Paw needed a playmate.  The adoption would be quick, I thought.  Select the cat, pay the fee and get home before Gerry did.  I had no idea that all family members had to be present to adopt a cat.  Shockeroo!  I knew Gerry would be resistant to wanting another cat, but maybe he'd change his mind when he saw how cute the new cat was. The trainer would not let us have Hero unless Gerry agreed to the adoption.  He wanted to phone Gerry at work.  You're kidding me. Of course, Gerry was shocked to get such a call, and yes, he wanted to speak to me on the phone.  Yikes.  After exchanging a few pleasant words, Gerry said okay, we could adopt Hero.  The kids were ecstatic!  When we got home, Hero went into hiding for three days.  Poor kitty.  Entering a new home with Big Paw in it was a bit much, I guess. Hero lived up to his name, and he came to us at the right time.  We were grieving the death of someone very close to our daughter, Lindsay.  Matt was a joy to have around.  Sensing that Lindsay was the most grief-stricken, Hero stuck close to her for a long, long time.  He became Lindsay's buddy.  He also began to sit a certain way that was kind of freaky.  Hero would prop himself up against a wall as if he were human, sitting upright on his rear-end!  That's how Matt would sit on Lindsay's futon.  Hero was channeling Matt!!  Scary at first, but we came to love seeing Matt's spirit come through.  Hero was wise, smart and loved to have long conversations with us.  He also thought he was a dog. Too funny.  Almost daily, he would try to force his way outdoors to get a taste of the green grass.  Yes, Hero was special.  He passed not too long ago, and of all the cats I cried for, I couldn't cry for him.  I don't understand it yet.  But it doesn't mean I didn't love him.  I probably loved him the most. Somewhere in my future, I know I will cry for him.  Hero lived to be 19 years old. I miss your love bites, Pretty Boy.

Born:                       January 1997
Adopted:               December 2000
Rainbow Bridge:    May 2016  

YANKEE - the Snuggle Bug
My son, Gary, first spotted Yankee down the street.  The cat was distressed, meowing so loudly.  He ran home to tell me all about this cat, but I couldn't be bothered.  I was bolted in my chair in front of the TV watching the tragic chaos taking place in New York City. The twin towers at the World Trade Center had fallen that morning.  I told Gary to just leave the cat alone.  Did I really say that, because normally I'm quick to rescue a cat.  Gary continued to keep an eye on that cat for the next couple of days, and of course, it would follow him home.  Lindsay built a cardboard house for it, decorated with pink crepe streamers because - tada - we thought it was a she!  This cat had badly sagging skin, as if she might have delivered a litter.  Then one day, we heard our cats loudly meowing at the livingroom window.  I looked out and there was the cat.  I'd not seen the cat until then.  Gary described her to me, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw.  She looked odd, skinny, dirty and had big ears.  But I got excited because I'd seen that kind of cat before in a picture.  I ran to the computer and did some research, then became so excited because sitting outside our window was a Cornish Rex, or a mix of one, not the kind of cat you see every day.  Even our vet had not seen one in person.  It's an expensive breed, costing about $800. It turns out the she was a he. This cat had been very unheathily overfed, had became lost or abandoned, starved, and thus resulting in the sagging belly.  Poor thing.  No one seemed to be searching for this special cat, so we decided to care for him.  The name America, when we thought it was a girl, would now become Yankee.  And no, I didn't want to check the sex of the cat because it was so grossly dirty and stinky.  The less I touched it until a visit to the vet, the better.  Yankee was special because he behaved like a toddler.  He loved to stand and reach up to be picked up and be held like a baby.  He loved to rest his head on our shoulders, and be coddled inside a baby blanket.  The vet couldn't estimate Yankee's age because his teeth and gums were in bad shape.  We gave Yankee extra care because we knew his life was hard up to the day he decided to adopt us as his new family.  When he became sick, the veterinary bills became so high that we could no longer take care of him.  I called our vet to see if they knew of a non-profit no-kill cat sanctuary that would be willing to care for a cornish rex.  They didn't, and apologized.  A few days later, the vet called me and said they would be willing to care for him, but we had to relinquish all rights to Yankee.  Also, my family and I could visit him whenever we wanted, no need to make an appointment.  I was elated, to say the least.  I began to sleep better. Yankee would eventually become the mascot of the Rolling Hills Pet Hospital.  He had free reign of the clinic, and could roam wherever he wished.  On the weekends, Dr. Keith would take him home to his place in Coronado.  Lucky cat!   We didn't have Yankee as long as our other cats, but he would always be our Little Snuggle Bug.

Born:                      Unknown
Adopted Us:         September 2001
Rainbow Bridge:  January 2006 

QUINCY - the Bashful One
Just when we thought we had enough cats in the house already, Lindsay calls me up one day and says that I need to go to PetSmart right away.  What for, I ask.  "There's a real cute cat that needs to be adopted, and he keeps meowing.  He wants a home", was her reply. 
Oh, geez.  But that's what Gerry and I did.  We went to PetSmart to check out this cat and adopted him.  His name was Quincy, and he was cute as a button.  He was pretty shy, too. He had this raspy meow sound, and didn't want to be held or petted unless he came to you for attention. But if he came to you, he'd plop part of his body on you and stay there for as long as he could. He liked to be left alone a lot of the time.  Quincy had this weird habit of taking food out of his bowl, dropping it on the floor and eating it.  He was a very messy eater.  Gary Mike thinks he was earlier raised with other cats and was used to eating his food off the floor.  His favorite toy was feathers hanging on a string.  He'd get wild about them for a little while, then get over it fast.  He didn't remain playful for very long.  Not much else was known of his past, but we made sure he had a good life in our home.  Quincy was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.  It was so hard to decide that it was time to let him go.  With Lindsay in Nashville, and Summer at her job in Del Mar, via FaceTime they joined me, Gerry, Gary Mike and Kat at the clinic where we held Quincy for the last time.  It was a very difficult good-bye.  Our hearts hurt for the longest time.

Born:                       January 2007
Adopted:              January 2009
Rainbow Bridge:   September 2014

NALA - the Princess
Nala is pretty, and she knows it.  I refer to her as the princess because she's so girly.  She's a big tease, too.  She came to be a part of our family when I took her in from the cold.  She was a member of a growing feral colony, just a baby, really.  She was with her daddy cat when I first spotted her on a very cold morning.  Every day she'd come around with a member of her feline family or all of them.  There was the daddy, mama, Reeses (we named it because she reminded us of the candy) and Nala.  So one early morning, I decided to snatch her up and bring her in out of the cold, to her daddy's dismay.  I would cuddle her under my warm blanket, and stare at her beautiful face until I heard Gerry waking up, then I'd put her back outside.  Not very nice, I know, but Gerry would not be keen on yet having another cat in the house.  Soon Nala would come around on her own and insist we take her in.

So persistent, this cat.  Nala is as feminine as a girl can be, is a picky eater, is very playful and a such a big tease.  She doesn't meow; instead, she voices these tiny mews and makes these chirping noises.  She loves people but loves Gary Mike the most. She loves to be petted, and has this crazy thing about licking lotion off my hands, arm and feet.  Gross! So annoying when she does that.  Also annoying is when we get up in the morning to find she's been stuck in the office closet all night long.  Why she continues to run into a closet surprises me.  Nala loves to sneak upstairs when Gerry's not around, but when she hears his voice, she quickly dashes down the stairs.  Too funny to witness!  To this day, Nala shows affection for the remaining members of her once feral colony that grew to number 23 total.  There are two strays remaining who make our backyard their home.  It amazes me that three generations later, the strays recognize Nala as one of their own.

Born:             Fall 2009
Adopted:    December 2009

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