Does anyone else remember Sylvanian Families, the tiny, vaguely humanoid woodland creatures from the late 80s? For each species (bear, rabbit, squirrel…) you could collect the mom, dad, brother and sister – sold separately, of course.
As a little girl, I wanted them all. But, nowadays, all I want is one Sylvan(ian) family.
When Sylvan first arrived at Tabby’s Place, we were quite confident that his would be a short stay. He had the complete package, and he had it in spades. Heck, who could resist a lanky, angel-faced tabby who literally hugged our vet tech during his scary intake exam?
Answer: no one, of course.
So why in the world did Sylvan decide to change his stripes?
OK, the stripes themselves never changed…but Sylvan’s hug-a-bug ways most certainly did.
Maybe it was only because all the cool kids were doing it. After all, Sylvan did come to us with the “friendly/not-friendly/friendly again” quartet. During their intake exams (which can make even the nicest cats bring out their best Alice Cooper impersonations), four out of four of these angels were…well, angelic.
Sylvan, with his warm embrace, was the cuddliest (and, dare I say, the most “adoptable”) of all. But Puzzle, Kurt and Precious were close behind in extreme sweetness, pushing our intake team to declare, “this is an amazing group!”
So what happened between intake and the suites?
The quartet certainly didn’t become sub-amazing; we all know that’s simply not possible if one is a cat. But they did become…sub-snuggly.
Precious took on a permanent expression declaring, “You are not precious and I do not appreciate your existence.” Kurt took up permanent residence at the top of the ramp. Puzzle literally climbed the walls all the way to the very top of the solarium (surely impressive to any visiting mountaineers, but less than endearing to adopters).
And Sylvan - huggy, handsome Sylvan – banished himself to the inner reaches of the darkest cubbies. Once such a snuggler, our tabby teenager now made it known, I vant to be alone.
We had our socialization work cut out for us.
The advantage with this quartet was that we knew their sweetness-potential was stratospheric. We just had to bust through the sudden fear with megadoses of love, and to remind them that whatever they were feeling back in intake was the real thing, the thing they could safely feel for the rest of their lives.
While Puzzle, Kurt and Precious were rightly described as “terrified,” I always got the impression that Sylvan was more melancholy. After we harrowing human beans left for the night, Sylvan was probably sitting in the middle of the suite blubbering out the old Neil Diamond chestnut I Am, I Said. (I can see his amber eyes filling with tears when he reached the part about how “no one heard at all, not even the chair.” Poor Sylvan. Stupid chair.)
But, as we hoped, those early glimpses of sweetness and trust proved to be the truth about Sylvan’s soul. First he found his heart’s strength in the company of cats, whiling away sunny solarium days with Kurt, Ginger, Rumor and a handful of trusted others. In the most blithe moments with his crew, Sylvan would allow lucky human beans to love him and to remind him how good it was to be cherished.
One by one, Sylvan’s closest friends were adopted. With each bittersweet exit, Sylvan seemed to crack his heart open a bit wider to us human types, moving from hesitant head-butts to full-purr, no-inhibitions belly rubs in a matter of months.
Sylvan clearly missed Ginger, and Puzzle was a hard goodbye. But it was when Kurt – Sylvan’s BFF and his north star – left for a happy life this spring that I really realized just fully Sylvan had returned to his roots.
The love-bug from intake was back.
So where the heck was his very own Sylvanian Family?
That remains a mystery that none of us can crack. Here we have one of the Nicest Cats In The Whole World, who happens to also be:
a) younger than springtime
b) handsomer than James Bond
c) more peaceable than Gandhi
And yet, two years later, still he waits. What gives?
You know my theory by now: when it takes this long and makes this little sense, there is something very meant-to-be ahead. When Sylvan’s mom/dad/family arrives, the pieces will click into place with all the magic of…well, a Neil Diamond song.
In the meantime, it’s a joy to see that Sylvan’s changed his tune. His melancholy is a thing of the past, and he’s more of a Sweet Caroline Sarafina kind of boy these days.
And when that Sylvanian Family makes their meant-to-be appearance, I promise you will be the first to know.