It’s a new day at Tabby’s Place.
The sun is shining.
The leaves are gold-glimmering.
The Lobby is luminous with shenanigans.
Even if your default setting is Generalized Joy, there are days and seasons that stand out. Sometimes, stars and starfish and cats and catfish all align in an unexpected, undeniable dance of euphoria. For a time, everything is so right, it shimmers.
We’re having such a moment in the Tabby’s Place Lobby.
As you may know, this corner of the sanctuary is reserved for Cats We Want To Spoil: the extreme elderly, the eerily ill, the sad-storied, the sensitive-spirited, the oddest of the odd squad. Throw in a few paraplegics and you’ve got the Tabby’s Place Lobby.
Accordingly, the Lobby is really always a place of joy. All those oldsters are clamoring for cuddles (and fresh fish mush); all those sad-storied souls are healing from sorrow right before your eyes; all those oddballs are bouncing jingle-balls off the walls ’til you can barely breathe from laughing so hard.
But even in such an everyday-special place, we’ve entered a golden age.
It started when Emerson arrived in the Lobby. Fresh from a crowded shelter, this wobbly wanderer would require an extended post-Quarantine quarantine in a Lobby crate. Em was born with cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) — that harmless condition that makes cats look hapless, courtesy of an underdeveloped cerebellum, courtesy of a mama exposed to distemper while pregnant. CH does not hurt; it does not progress; it does not disqualify Emerson from the highest office in the land.
It does, however, make him bimble about like a one-winged honeybee, lurching and launching himself in directions neither you nor he can predict.
So, for Emerson’s own protection, we started him out in a sizable crate. He gazed out at his neighbors without having to tumble into them; they gazed back with perplexed interest.
And every single human in the 08551 zip code gazed into great glimmery glee.
Even in his crate, Emerson exerted a mad magnetic pull on people. Staff, volunteers, donors, visitors, random cement-truck drivers rolling down Route 202…everyone yearned for whatever this Crayola-bright cat had inside. With eyes all splendorous and legs all splayed, Emerson would assault you with affection, standing on his tippiest toes to look closer, love you more dearly, wobble and womble his way into your soul.
And now Emerson is free.
Wombling and bimbling and bobbling through the lobby, he’s a man on a mission to radiate joy. He’ll lob himself into the couch as he runs towards you — and by “runs,” I mean “does something between the Safety Dance and drunken performance art.” Bring out a toy, and Emerson will almost explode with elation, playing with you until you’re pooped and he is not.
But Emerson’s not the only reason the Lobby has suddenly turned giddy-gold. Anka, our Turkish delight, has also made his debut, and he’s making it his mission to adore every individual he encounters (humans, cats, stink bugs, desiccated leaves…). He’s not quite as fast as fellow Lobby paraplegic Olive, but he’s 800,000 times as happy-hearted. With his wild mane flowing, Anka will do daily world tours of the Lobby, stopping his explorations only for pets and snuggles and zesty head-bonks.
I’ve not yet seen Anka and Emerson share a meeting of the minds, but such a wonderful, wobbling summit seems sure to come.
These two triumphant boys have brought an irresistible childlikeness to the Lobby. Grizzled staff and laundry-wearied volunteers will go from grey to gold in the sight of all these shenanigans. Cold November days start to shine like invincible summers when Emerson is doing his dance, when Anka is angling for affection, when all is deeply, deeply right with the world.
No foul mood is safe. Don’t say you weren’t warned.