Tabby’s Place has a lot in common with New York City.
I don’t mean the fashion, the graffiti or even the undying affection of Woody Allen.
I mean the neighborhoods.
Somewhere in time between those crazy Dutch who called the place “New Amsterdam” and Alicia Keys who called the place “New Yoooooooooork,” NYC developed a patchwork of micro-New Yorks, each with a city’s worth of stories and a continent full of color. Being such a country girl that I actually went to a high school called Pine Bush, whose mascot was The Bushman, I will not presume to speak authoritatively of Manhattan. Yet even a rube such as I knows of New York’s nabes.
Tribeca. Nolita. The Village. Alphabet city. Chinatown. Little Italy. The Diamond District. The Street On Which All Guys Are Named Moe. New York is all about niches. Everyone of every quirk can find a community.
Tabby’s Place is no different. (Well, except that we don’t have a gigantic “CRACK IS WACK” sign a few miles outside the Tabby’s Place limits. Maybe someday.)
The Lobby is clearly the theater district, with every awesome oddball shooting for stardom. Dot and D’Art and Sabrina and company may have struggled to fit into some other, smaller, sadder world, but now they’ve found their tribe, and life is a song.
Suite C is definitely Greenwich Village. Between Sluggo, Virginia, Hootz, Hurricane Katrina and Violet-“Don’t-Make-Me-Add-An-N-To-My-Name,” the only shame in this game is the poor cat who doesn’t let her freak flag fly.
Jonathan’s office would be Gracie Mansion, where decisions get made affecting the rest of the city. (Silly humans, of course I don’t mean decisions by Jonathan. I mean decisions by Cookie and Gunther.)
Adoption Room #3? Why, of course that’s Fifth Avenue. The lady cats here may be well on in years, but that only makes them more advanced in style and class. Eat your heart out, Donna Karan; Tinkerbell, Sylvia and Fiona have their PhDs in fashion.
And then there’s Suite A. What can I say of Suite A? I don’t think even New York has a equivalent.
Except, perhaps, Central Park…immediately after Bellevue discharged all its mentally ill patients back in the 70s.
We didn’t intend for Suite A to become the Nervous Neighborhood…just like we didn’t intend for Suite C to be bouncing-off-the-walls-bananas, or the Lobby to resemble the Island of Misfit Toys. But somehow, in Tabby’s Place as in New York, neighborhoods happen. Cats influence each other, and they exert a gravitational pull on kindred kitties.
In the case of Suite A, that’s meant a neighborhood of former ferals and sympathetic strays. With Dobro as their lizard king, these people-shy felines are utterly content to cuddle one another and leer suspiciously at the human beans who feed them.
We bombard them with personally-paired volunteers who work as patiently as saints to teach the cats to love and trust. There are epic victories – Patch, Pansy, Petunia. There are cats who learn to trust our intentions even if they never fully welcome our mooshy kisses – Cecille, Valencia.
And then there are the unknowns. Lovely Pollen falls into this file.
Pollen was found on a sprawling estate with her four kittens. Through a happy series of events, the whole family moved on up to Tabby’s Place. Two things were instantly apparent:
- Pollen was a very, very loving mother; and,
- Pollen was decidedly not one of the “babies having babies” to which we’re so accustomed (a la Edamame).
After all the mamis and kittens we’ve rescued through the years, we human beans just assumed Pollen would be in the 6 months – 3 years range. Foolish humans are good at assuming things. Foolishly.
A look into Pollen’s face and mouth told the less-foolish Dr. C a surprising fact: Pollen was no spring chicken. Or any kind of poultry. Nor was she a young cat. Dr. C estimated Pollen’s age to be “at least 8.”
This is the equivalent of a 50-something woman (let’s say, Angela Merkel) birthing quadruplets. All together now: zoiks.
Mega-momma Pollen loved her babies (Leaf, Petal, Thorn and Blossom) fiercely and fondly, doing all she could. Yet all the love in Manhattan couldn’t cause Pollen to produce the thing the kittens needed most: milk.
Pollen’s quartet was bottle-raised by amazing humans. But what of the old grey mare mama herself?
Suite A, that’s what.
For the last two months, Pollen’s been biding her time in Tabby’s Place’s most unpredictable neighborhood, evaluating the cats, the humans, and the meaning of life after labor.
Although she’s clearly currently at home with the “trust-no-one” Bellevue crew in Suite A, it remains to be seen whether Pollen will choose to cruise with humans in the future. It’s been a long, strange trip to Suite A for our grey girl, and only she can tell where the road leads from here.
But this much we daft-yet-adoring humans can promise: Pollen’s path ahead is good. Not all who wander are lost. Even if she never chooses to let us love her with our hands or hugs, Pollen will know love. She’s home now, with cats and humans who cherish her exactly as she is. If she should choose to make room for mooshing, we’ll be the first to kiss her beautiful face.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, Pollen. We love you.
Photo credits: a veritable platoon of awesome PWhAM (People Who Aren’t Me). From top: Katrina by Tabby’s Place Benefactor/Friend/Adopter/Stellar Person Heather; D’Artagnan and Hootz by Denise; Tink by me (who actually art me, after all); Pollen by volunteer Jessica; Pollen by Jane.