As if it weren’t enough to adopt an elderly, “imperfect” cat;
as if it weren’t enough to champion the praises of elderly, “imperfect” cats to all who would listen;
as if it weren’t enough to become one of our most fabulous volunteers;
Carrie M. has penned the following for our delight. Enjoy.
“It’s early in the morning and my alarm has gone off. As quickly as I can silence it, there’s a black cat making his way up the bed. He sits on my chest, reaches out a front paw to touch my chin, and gives me a long, loud purr.
“This is Sirius, and this is our morning routine.
“I stand, stretch, and put my glasses on. Sirius sits expectantly at the edge of the bed, eyes on me, and when I turn to him, he rears up on his hind feet to put his front paws on my belly. He is a petite thing and his touch is very light. I pick him up and hold him in my left arm as I make my way out to the kitchen. A morning scoop of kibble goes into the bowl, and I put Sirius down so he can eat.
“A few minutes later, he’s finished, and he is standing beside my desk chair as I read morning emails. He rears up again, one front paw on the arm of my chair, the other tapping my elbow. I lean over and scoop him up. He scans my desk for any new objects to play with, then settles down beside me, leaning on my right arm.
“This is the cat who accepts all forms of love: food, treats, even medical care. He swallows his daily blood pressure medication without fuss. Scratch his downy-soft belly and he will roll over so you can give him the full rub-down. Sit down with your dinner plate and he will lean in to try and taste a sample.
“This is the cat who naps with me, his face tucked in against mine, while I doze to the sound of a faint purr.
“This is the cat who enjoys kisses, back pets, belly rubs, leg rubs, tail rubs, chin rubs, cheek scratches, and paw rubs. I tickle his belly and he immediately turns around for an enthusiastic head-butt.
“This is the cat who knows when 4:30PM rolls around and it’s time for wet food. One must endure a soul-penetrating stare from one cloudy eye and one good eye while he impatiently smacks his lips and gets his lower canine tooth stuck on his upper lip because it’s the only tooth he has left.
“This is the cat who wags and twitches his tail not because he is irritated, but because he is giddy with the excitement of getting some lovin’ or some treats, or both.
“This is the cat who needs his bum wiped with a kitty bath towelette because he’s taken a particularly offensive poo and needs help with clean-up. He chirps impatiently and wiggles on his tippy-toes because the wipe is cold.
“This is the cat I was advised against adopting.
“In July of 2012, I suffered the heartbreak of losing my wonderful companion kitty, Buffy. She was 13 years old, a tiny little thing, and although she was timid at times, she had become the furry little center of my universe. A sudden stroke took her from me in the space of a single day. I had adopted Buffy when she was nine years old – certainly not a young girl – but in the four years I had with her, I came to appreciate the merits of a cat that came with baggage. Buffy’s life during kittenhood was muddy. She had some health problems. Still, I loved her to pieces. I gave her the best that I could and it was comforting to keep this in mind after she had passed away.
“I waited a month before I began to consider adopting another cat web. I already had two others, but the loss had still left a void in my life. I had more love to give! My search brought me to Tabby’s Place. I spent time with their residents and I checked out the four on display at PetSmart.
“It was a five-year-old female there who caught my eye: Sophie, a large torbie, appealed to me. I scheduled a visitation appointment where I would be able to meet her close-up. As the four display cages were opened for cleaning, I patiently awaited my moment, but my plans were interrupted by the gentle sniff of a cat examining my ear. I turned my head and was face to face with a small black cat with a cloudy eye.
“(Who on Earth named this poor boy Squidward?!) I watched as he was given a quick servicing – linens changed, nails clipped. He sat very patiently for all of it, eager to sniff the pants of the staffer closest to him.
“I scooped Squidward up and cradled him in my arms like a baby. He sat very quietly, patiently, and watched me with his eyes slightly closed – an expression I found to be both calm and calming.
“I was sold. Some people within my sphere of influence were not. Squidward was twelve years old, just shy of the age Buffy had been when she died. What if he dies within a few months? You’ll just be sad all over again. The logic was very real: if he died that quickly, I’d be very sad. It was true. However, the lesson Buffy had taught me over our four years together burned straight through any doubt. I had more love to give. I can give this old cat that love. I can make whatever time he has left the best time of his life.
“Later, I called to put a hold on Squidward, and within a few days, I had brought him home. His coat was flecked throughout with single white hairs – he reminded me of the night sky. I am a Harry Potter fan, too, so the name that came to mind first is the name that stuck: Sirius.
“A year and a half on, Sirius has repeatedly proven to me that he’s worth his salt. His adoption was meant to be. He blessed me by choosing me to be his new human. His former human had died abruptly and he needed me the way that I needed him. He’s one of the most chill cats I’ve ever met and his drama-free demeanor puts me at ease.
“I carry Buffy’s song now more loudly than ever before. Old is not broken. Old is not unadoptable. Old is not undesirable. Old is simply a reason to love more intensely.”
And all the people and cats said, Amen!