Smitten with kittens
January 4 marked seven weeks since Angelo’s passing. A Buddhist friend told me that’s the mourning period for the deceased, after which time, you burn their photograph and release them to the next spiritual plane. Even cats.
I’m not a Buddhist, but I found this ritual soothing when Milo passed, and now it was Angelo’s turn. I’d intended to wait until he aspired to his next level to get any new pets, but I fell short by a week. A home without cats is no home at all. I started searching online a couple weeks ago.
I really wanted two more Norwegian Forest Cats, but outside of Norway, they’re extremely difficult to find. I located only four available in the U.S., all in New Jersey, for $1,000 apiece. Add in the expense of a round-trip ticket to get them and, well, I work for the Winters Express. Not gonna happen.
I searched for rescue Norwegian Forest Cats, but found only a handful of plain old Domestic Longhairs being passed off as Wegies, probably to make them more attractive for adoption. When you’ve had a Wegie, you can spot a fake instantly. I kept searching.
This is how I stumbled upon Petfinder.com. They had a couple “Wegies,” but none appealed to me. I finally accepted that I probably wouldn’t find a real Wegie, let alone two, that didn’t involve airline travel and a fat wad of cash. So, what would be my second choice? Of course: a black velvet cat — an all-black Domestic Shorthair. I’ve loved them from that classic Star Trek episode featuring a young Teri Garr, secretary for time-traveler Gary Seven, who had a mysterious pet black cat. At the end, the cat transforms into a beautiful woman for just an instant, and then back again. I was fascinated.
And, I realize that, like, six of you out there know what the hell I’m talking about. Old Trekkies rock.
So, I searched Petfinder for black cats, and discovered legions available for adoption. Turns out, black cats are the least likely to be adopted and the most likely to be euthanized (the same holds true for black dogs, by the way). This busts the silly myth that black cats are bad luck. The only bad luck falls upon the poor animals themselves, who go unloved and neglected because people are, frankly, stupid.
Seriously. If you fear a color, get counseling.
I clicked around Petfinder, cat after cat, and one just captured my fancy: Maggie, a pair of wide golden eyes in a furry black frame. She looked like a little black owl. I had to inquire about her. I was connected with Shawn, a kitty foster mom with Cat Tales Rescue, a sub-search engine on Petfinder. We corresponded a bit, arranged a meeting, and I told her I also wanted an all-white male — Yin and Yang kitties. Turns out, Maggie already such a companion she’d bonded with, Thumper. Yay, synchronicity!
We met at the Fairfield Petco. Shawn told me that both cats were initially rescued from animal shelters within a day of being euthanized, and have since been carted to Petco weekend after weekend for months in hopes of being adopted. Maggie was clearly traumatized by all this activity, and curled into a little ball of avoidance when held. No eye contact at all. I could see why she’d been passed over for so long, poor thing. Thumper, however, all white with crystal blue eyes, was an insatiably affectionate, goofy, squirmy clown with a purr like a coffee grinder. He sealed the deal.
Back at home, Thumper (now called Maxx) is clearly ecstatic in his new surroundings. Maggie (renamed Minnie because she’s so tiny) took a day or so to come out of her shell, and although still unfond of being held, she’s clearly content. She’ll come around. I am the Keeper of the Treats. Resistance is futile. Both of them have this ridiculously charming behavior of vibrating their tails when they greet me in the morning. I can tell it’s all going to work out just fine.
All in all, my Petfinder.com experience was exceedingly positive. Petfinder features a national search engine for pets of all types, from hamsters to horses. Each animal has a photo and detailed description, and a link to the local foster home. In this case, it was Cat Tales Rescue of Solano County, which was also top-notch. Besides the overall positive experience, adoptions from Cat Tales Rescue are a bargain: $135 includes spaying/neutering, microchipping, feline leukemia testing, and vaccinations. A second cat comes at half price. Go price that out with your local vet, plus the cost of the visit, and you’ll see what a great deal this is. And, if you and Kitty don’t get along, you can return her within 30 days and try a different one. How awesome is that?
The best deal of all, however, is the cats themselves. The foster parents shower them with love and know their personalities, and can tell you all about them. It’s less risky than an animal shelter. And, by adopting a rescue cat, you save a life. It’s heartbreaking to think that my Minnie and Maxx were within moments of being euthanized. What a shame that would’ve been. And they’re only two of thousands.
“Adopting an unwanted animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal,” says a poster I saw recently. I’ve learned this to be true. Times two. And, saving two lives takes the sting out of losing two others.
Want a pet? Petfinder.com is a great place to start. Minnie and Maxx would agree. And so would Angelo and Milo, purring down from above.