As John said so well in his special post from London, all of you who care about the Tabby’s Place cats are truly family to us. But, our family is scattered across the miles and oceans, so we like to give you as much of an experience of the feline community here in the non-metropolis of Ringoes, NJ as possible.
What better way to offer a glimpse of the physical Tabby’s Place community than by introducing our Community Cats?
And, I might add, what better Community Cat to kick things off than Mittens?
Complete disclosure: I have a soft spot the size of Antarctica for this tabby cat. But, that’s not the only reason he’s the first Community Cat to debut in this space. Mittens is, quite simply, a marvel.
First there’s the marvel of his being alive at all. I remember the morning of Mittens’ arrival like it was yesterday: I’d been working at Tabby’s Place for all of two weeks when the skinniest, saddest tabby I’d ever seen made his way to us.
If ever there was a cat with a right to hate people, it was Mittens. He’d been diagnosed with diabetes some time earlier, at which point his people thought it best to put him outside. A few weeks later, Mittens returned home with an angry red gash slashed across his side by some other animal. That’s when his people opted to ask the vet to put him to sleep.
How I could hug and kiss the vet who said “no.” (He’s on the same “to-hug” list with Grady’s oncologist.)
Through a series of events, Mittens was Tabby’s Place-bound, and the mauled, 7-pound cat with out-of-control diabetes became part of our family. That Mittens made it through his initial crisis (and gained six much-needed pounds on his large, lanky frame) is quite a marvel. He’s laughed off other brushes with death since that time, too, from necrotizing pancreatitis with a “poor prognosis” to wildly bouncing blood glucose (BG) levels.
But the biggest wonder about Mittens is his unsinkable, irreplacable sense of joy. The cat who had every right to hate people never has – not for a minute. In fact, it’s his XXXL love of people that earned him a place among the Community Cats.
What are the Community Cats, for goodness’ sake??! Ah, glad you asked. While most of the 100 Tabby’s Place cats live in our big, airy suites, a select group occupies our community areas: the lobby, offices and Lounge. Most of these cats are either (a) facing severe Special Needs, (b) so un-fond of other cats, they’d never do well with 17 roommates in a suite, or (c) all of the above. Mittens’ final answer is (a), as he’s never met a species he didn’t like (well, except for whatever that thing was that mauled him, maybe).
And, even as he’s added inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease to diabetes, 14-year-old Mittens hasn’t slowed down a tad. As king of the Lounge, Mittens seeks and savors hugs and laps with almost as much gusto as he hunts his elusive prey…Lunch. Now, while it’s never a good practice to give a cat lots of table scraps, that’s especially off-limits for a kitty with IBD, whose delicate GI system is easily flustered by unfamiliar foods. Alas for Mittens!
Other than one rogue piece of asparagus, which he whisked off Jonathan’s plate and proceeded to carry around the room at top speed; and the occasional invisible molecule, which he’ll lick at triumphantly for eons after any real food has been removed, Mittens has not yet bagged his quarry. But, he is eternally undaunted, and spends each lunchtime gleefully strolling from one lap into the next, making the best of the affection and aromas on offer. If they ever find a permanent cure for IBD, one of the first things I’ll do will be to give Mittens the feast of his dreams.
But, in the meantime, Mittens, secretly and forever my Favorite Tabby’s Place Cat, has my heart and a watermelon-sweet life in the Lounge. As the happy, unsinkable heart of the Tabby’s Place community, Mittens is the very epitome of a Community Cat.