It was the best of songs, it was the worst of songs.
There may be many miles between the West Coast and the Left Bank, but boundaries ain’t nothin’ but an FIV thang to two cats known as The Rapper and The Frenchman.
Or, as they’re known to their more intimate friends, Dre and Jean Valjean.
Neither of these gents are from what you might call the “right” side of the tracks. Like their namesakes, our newest FIV+ tabbies have each walked rough roads.
Rolling with wiggly energy, skinny orange Dre came unneutered, ooky-eyed and starved for the affection he wanted badly. Had someone loved him well and tragically lost him? Was he the rare “feral” born with a love for humanity? Why did Jonathan feel the need to name him after the performer of such family-friendly hits as “(Expletive) With Dre Day” and “(Expletives) Ain’t (Expletive)”? (No, I am not making either of these up..)
Some questions just don’t have answers.
Given Dre’s decidedly ungangsta-like friendliness, we thought he must be missed by someone, and posted “found cat” posters, worded loosely as follows: Is this exceptionally sweet orange cat yours? Do you want him back? Do you realize how hard it will now be to convince us that you are worthy of him? Do you realize that he has started a new world order of love and wigglitude at Tabby’s Place? Why didn’t you microchip him? Why why why?
Nobody responded. We let it ride. Dre is now Dre Rosenberg, an official and adored Tabby’s Place cat.
Exactly one day after Dre’s arrival, we were all singing “One Day More” when we were joined by a long, strong tabby named Jean Valjean. (By “all” I mean, “me, on my own, while everyone gave me looks that communicated ‘you’re as dumb as a bag of hammers'”.) We were unanimous that his name should be Jean Valjean. (By “unanimous” I mean, “for six years I’d begged to name a cat Jean Valjean, and since everyone was feeling bad for me at the time, they held their noses long enough to grant my wish.”)
Initially an angry mass of muscles, Valjean had painful teeth and an aching heart. Snarling and growling, struggling when restrained, this was one angry Frenchie. You’d think we’d guillotined his entire famille, or at least stolen his croissant. Handsomer than Hugh Jackman, he was not a happy garçon.
But it was just about one day to a new beginning. Even the darkest night shall end and the sun will rise. (Please stop throwing molding vegetables at the screen. I promise I’ll stop soon.)
We’ll never know how, exactly, the past hurt Valjean — but, slowly at first, and then in a torrent of saliva, we learned that he was willing to leave it behind and purr, droolingly, into any fingers kind enough to tickle his chin. You could almost see it happen: given a taste of grace, Valjean made the choice to make a break with his past. I’m convinced that cats are capable of such conscious decisions. In Valjean’s case, it genuinely seems that he chose: This place is okay. These people mean well — they’re dumb, but cute. And when they touch my chin SACRE BLEU WHEN THEY TOUCH MY CHIN…!!!
He was a good boy all along. A new story had begun.
Good boys. Bad pasts. It happens.
And once again, we — and Suite FIV — are the lucky ones.
PS #1: No lie: as I was typing this post, my cell phone rang. The ringtone? “One day tooooo a neeeeeeeew beginnnnnning!” I am hopeless.
PS #2: Valjean’s Tabby’s Place ID# is 1,286. It should, of course, be 24601. And if you know exactly what I’m talking about, I love you and we should be best friends. Hopelessly nerdy best friends.
PS #3: Housekeeping note: I will be out of the office next week, so if you need to reach Tabby’s Place and can’t get me personally, please freak thou not out (and don’t storm the Bastille either). Jonathan has pledged a guest blog in my absence. I will be spending the week celebrating my coronation in Spain, where I am queen mooshing the Pennsylvania cats of my Pennsylvania family.