You’ve spent hours working on a 5,000-piece picture puzzle, painstakingly matching up colors and patterns and shapes until a beautiful portrait comes together. About 4,950 pieces in, you’re on a roll and know it’s a shoo-in that you’ll finish it now. But just as you’re ready to pop in that last triumphant piece…where is that last piece? It’s just one stupid little piece of cardboard, but without it, the whole thing is woefully, all-too-obviously incomplete.
And so it was with our own Puzzle.
Puzzle was more of a challenge than a 30 billion-piece picture puzzle when he first arrived at Tabby’s Place. He came from the euthanasia list at a public shelter with the embarrassingly ladylike name of ”Velvet,” which our intake team mercifully changed to Puzzle. After a deceptively placid performance during his intake exam, this spindly black-and-white cutie swiftly became one of the most hysterically terrified cats I’ve ever seen.
Shortly after moving into Suite C, Puzzle decided that the tube connecting the suite to the solarium was the very best place for him to live, and there he hunkered down.
Now, many cats take up temporary residence in the tubes during daily medication time. Quite frankly, it’s a brilliant thing to do. (Not quite brilliant enough, as we have our ways of getting to them anyway…but still a bright idea for the med-averse cat.) Puzzle took this to a new level by making that cramped Plexiglas passageway his home.
P.D., a volunteer with the patience of twelve saints, went to work on our perplexing Puzzle. While P.D.’s other charge, Kurt (who had come in with the same group as Puzzle) made impressive progress, Puzzle kept to the tube, week after week. One day, when our vet absolutely had to get to him, Puzzle put on quite the show; as far as I know, he is the only cat in Tabby’s Place history to have climbed the solarium fence wall all the way to the top, and clung to the grate near the ceiling.
Impressive. Frustrating, but impressive.
Still, P.D. and the rest of us persevered, wooing Puzzle with treats (even as he refused to be wooed) and cooing into his terrified golden eyes. When a space opened up in one of our small specialty care suites, Adoption Room #3, we hoped this was Puzzle’s chance to bloom in a more homelike environment.
And, boy, could this baby bloom.
Who could have imagined what a spectacular picture this Puzzle would make? In Adoption Room #3, Puz traded his tube-trembling, wall-scaling fears for a snuggly, wriggly, warm-and-wonderful personality that was all the more dazzling in comparison with his early days. It was a wonder to behold - and to hold Puzzle himself was too good to be true.
What also emerged at this point was Puzzle’s infatuation - no, obsession - with other cats. Namely, one particular marmalade fellow named Mango. Find Mango, and you’d find Puzzle almost physically attached, head-butting his orange buddy perpetually, even testing Mango’s extensive patience. If Mango wasn’t available, Puzzle would love on any and every other cat in his vicinity, making fast nap-buddies with Griselle and then Precious. (As you can see in these photos, Puzzle never really got the lesson on “respecting others’ personal space.”)
Having been sprung from a kill shelter and given a space at Tabby’s Place, making a magnificent transformation from cowardice to cuddles, and bonding with every cat he would touch, Puzzle made quite the perfect picture. Perfect…except for that one dratted missing piece.
Why the heck was nobody interested in adopting Puzzle?
Let me backtrack: it’s not that nobody was interested in adopting Puzzle. Between staff and volunteers, it’s fair to say there were at least a half-dozen serious Puzzle-admirers floating around his life, this blogger included. But when it came to someone who could realistically take him home…where was that elusive last-piece person?
Two long years went by before we’d have our answer. But two years aren’t too long when the adoption is meant to be.
And so it was.
As friendly as Puzzle had become, it was still a surprise to see how he reacted when his new mom first entered the suite. Puz made a beeline for her, rubbing her legs with gusto and using everything in his cuteness arsenal to shriek, “pick me!” As a woman with a big heart and considerable good sense, she did just that.
Originally, Puzzle’s new mom was scheduled to pick him up tomorrow (Thursday 11/19), and this post was going to go live then. But, Monday, Mama Puzzle appeared in the Tabby’s Place lobby with a sheepish smile and the confession, “I just couldn’t wait.”
Far be it from us to make our picture-perfect Puzzle wait a day longer.