Monday, February 2, 2015

Off-Topic, But Kinda On-Topic! (KITTIES!)

I SWEAR this long-azz post about cats will end up African violet related (kinda), but for the TL;DR version:
Spoiler alert: I gotta cat with geneva edged ear petals!

Now, for those of you who wanna read a nice long story about kitties, get comfy! (and maybe grab a Kleenex) And remember, all pics can be enlarged by clicking them!

Some of you know, I lost my best friend Delia back in December. She was 16 and the best cat I've ever known. More than just a cat.... Ok, I'm gonna spare all the details here before my keyboard gets wet and shorts out from a flood of tears. Cat people out there, I know you get it.

Final moments. Goodbye, my beautiful girl. Mommy loves you forever.

As much as I absolutely love kitties, I truly thought I could never have another one after losing Delia. I couldn't imagine going thru that loss again. But a few weeks went by and I started talking about how I missed having that feline presence, I just didn't know if I was ready. That's when superstar African violet grower (and fellow crazy cat lady) Sandra Skalski stepped in. She shared with me an anonymous poem, "A Cat's Last Will & Testament", which completely changed the way I was thinking.

I've taken that poem and made it into this sweet graphic using my Delia's photo as a tribute to her, and I'd love everyone out there to read it if you haven't. Click to enlarge:

Warning: Dust and onion fumes will appear in the room when you read this!

Well that did it. I started surfing every animal shelter website within a 100 mile radius, looking at all the homeless kitties out there. I even visited one shelter, and fell immediately in love with an all-white odd-eye (I've wanted one of those since I was a child!), but when I asked them to open her cage I was informed there were people across the room already filling out her adoption papers. Womp!

But one shelter page I found myself going back to more than the others near me was an all-kitty no-kill place called HART of Maine. They even have an awesome webcam (name: hart password: hart) in one of the rooms, which I started watching like my new favorite TeeVee show! (It's so fun watching the magic of adoptions happen!) I just HAD to visit this cat safe haven.

On the 1 month anniversary of Delia's death, I got a ride out there. They made a private visitation appointment for me, since my work hours were conflicting with their public days. I wasn't SURE I'd get a new friend that very day, but I at least wanted to say hi to some I'd been admiring on the website. (Yes, I made a list #ocdprobs).. And ok, I was also hoping that since it was the 1 month anniversary of losing Delia, that she was out there somewhere in the great beyond, working some kitty magic to send me a new friend.

What an amazing place. There are 6 community cat rooms to visit, where the kitties are grouped by type (to ensure they all get along and/or hang with those who have the same medical/diet needs). No kitty is turned away, no kitty is ignored, no kitty is confined to a cage for long, and most importantly no kitty faces euthanasia if they don't find a home by a certain time--They've got a safe place here as long as they need it. (Seriously if I die and come back as a homeless cat in my next life, I can only hope my karma is good enough to land me at HART!)

The very first kitty I gave some pettinz to ended up not being one on my list. "Mitzy", a 9 year old black beauty with the most unique white edged ears. White geneva edged ears you guys. Yeah, my dear African violet readers will know a "geneva edge" is an african violet with crisp white edges on the petals. Geneva edges have always been one of my very favorite blossom traits!
Anyways, back to the cat. She was pretty sweet on me, purring and rubbing her face on my hand. But oh my god, Delia was a black kitty. I could try to open up to a new cat, but I could NOT open my heart to another BLACK cat. #sorrynotsorry, but I was being totally cat racist! I told her I couldn't take her but I'd at least do some PR for her on facebook and try to help. Surely, someone would want this magical creature right?

Then we moved on to another room (the room with the webcam, in fact). I visited all the cool kitties I'd been enjoying on the webcam, and asked about some of the favorites I'd made a list of, from photos I'd seen on the website. When I got to "Tululla" on my list, the adoption volunteer said "Oh hang on, she hides.."

She pulled this fuzzy little 3 year old Maine coon mix girl out of her hiding spot, and the little princess immediately rubbed on my legs. I picked her up and she started to purr and rub her face on mine, and GRIPPED my arm in the craziest stalker "You're mine!" kinda way. My friends who were with me AND the adoption volunteer said, "She is picking YOU!" But oh my god. Long hair?? I could see my already messy apartment being coated in a layer of fur. "Yeah, nah!" I had to go to the other rooms to see who else I could meet.

Well I did, and they were all purrfectly awesome cats, but none of them gravitated to me the way that fluffy girl "Tululla" did. So back we went into that room and I picked her up again. Purr purr purr, rub, rub, rub. She even flipped over to have me scratch her belly, right in my arms! Then she started curling up into me, just snuggin' right in.

I felt so honored. I had to admit it. "Ok, I'm hers."

Some friends of mine were watching on the webcam and got this screen-cap of "the magic"--The moment she picked me!

I brought her home and she took exactly ZERO time to adjust. Within an hour she was on my lap, kneading biscuits, and purring away before going belly-up and drifting off to sleep.
"This lap, I like it. I've gotta Mommy now!"

I wasn't so sure about the name, but everyone following along on facebook loved it. So I just fixed the spelling to how I thought it should be, and she's officially Tallulah.

The next day I got to work doing PR for "Mitzy". I posted her pic on facebook, and sang her praises to all who would read. I even confirmed with HART that they could do out-of-state adoptions, which they can. Everyone was AMAZED by her unique ears and soulful eyes, and a couple people were semi-interested, but no one was seeming super serious. Mostly people were asking me why in the world I wasn't taking her? Why?? Because she's black and that would be like cheating on Delia! Right??

Then my best coworker friend (another fellow crazy cat lady) Christina finally broke me by saying, "She's not all black like Delia. She has white ears so it's not the same. You need her."

I frantically emailed HART and asked them to put her on hold for me. I wasn't DEFINITELY taking her, but I wanted to go back and visit her again to see if we had "the magic" together or not, and I didn't want anyone scooping her up before we could do that! I made sure to discuss with the adoption volunteer, if Tallulah and this girl would even get along? She said both of them weren't super in LOVE with other cats, but not aggressive either, so it would probably work. (no guarantee, but a "probably" is good enough!)

I WANTED to hold out for an all-white odd-eye kitty as a second one, but... screw it. Who knows how long that woulda taken to find? Best to just get a second while Tallulah's still new, right?

I got a ride out to HART again the next day. I went strait into the room to see "Mitzy", and she was not in a great mood. Being a public visitation day, I could tell she was just super over-stimulated and wanting some quiet alone time without hoominz. But I was here to decide if she wanted me for a Mommy--Talk about a challenge!

I spent some time with her and she was just annoyed. So I left and went to other rooms to say hi to other kitties (not considering any, just to give out some snuggz)... Every so often I'd come back and give her my hand, which she'd either ignore or swat. Then I'd leave again, and come back to try again. Finally on the fourth or fifth try, she gave my hand a face rub, a purr, and a tiny little kiss. I still hung around a while longer just to be sure. I asked some shelter volunteers about her temperament. General consensus was that she was pretty sweet, but might not ever be a lap cat. I asked if she might at least snuggle next to me over time, they thought she'd probably at least do that. Lawd knows I love a lap cat, but this girl needed a home, and at least I'd get to look at those gorgeous ears every day in return. So, I posted her bail, informed everyone her name was now officially Geneva*, and we came home! (*I almost named her Coco Chanel since she looks like a designer creation by them, but I decided African violets need more publicity than Chanel)

On the way home reading her paperwork I discovered an interesting (yet sad) tidbit of into--Her intake date to the shelter was the day of my hysterectomy. That was 8 months ago!! How did a cat this freakin' cool not get scooped up in all that time? I guess she was waiting for me.

She spent the first few hours home mostly hiding. She came out to sniff around once in a while, and give  half-azzed growls & wimpy hisses to Tallulah, (who was asleep mind you, and even when she woke up didn't care about any of it.)

"New cat? So what, who cares."

Then she spent the first half of yesterday hiding too. But after a while she came out to eat & took some pettinz. And then she seemed to just hang around a bit more and more thru the afternoon, exploring her new home and settling some.

Excuse me Geneva but actually you're in my spot. Not that I'd move you, so well played.
"Oh Geneva's still here? Cast thine eyes upon the field in which I grow my f*cks, and thou shalt see that it is barren."

Then last night, the seemingly unthinkable happened--The kitty who "might never be a lap cat" jumped up on my lap! And not just to explore--She laid down. curled up, started purring and kneading biscuits, and snugged into me for a good long while. OMG she picked me! And it only took about 24 hours!

And that's that, she's my cat. "Um nah, you're my Mommy."

"Yeah that's fine, have your moment."

Tallulah and Geneva aren't exactly BFFs yet, but I have a feeling we're gonna be just fine. They slept on me in shifts last night. Tolerance and taking turns is definitely a better sign than fighting! :)

To be clear, I know I will NEVER replace Delia. But I can honor her legacy by taking care of new kitty friends, rather than shutting them out of my heart and my life forever. And by letting these girls into my heart, a big part of the broken piece is now healing.

To wrap this up, please allow me a soapbox moment: Are you thinking about a new kitty? (Or dog, I'll try not to judge.) Go to a shelter. And while you're there, please take a look at the older friends. They have all the love to give you with far less of the obnoxious younger "growing pains" that kittens and puppies have yet to work outta their system. No waiting for "developing"--The personality you meet is pretty much the one that you get. (Just keep in mind, shelter life can make them a bit nervous at first) You will be rewarded in more ways than you can imagine by opening your heart for the older ones, I promise! Worried you don't get as many years to spend with them? Just remember, quality over quantity.
A lot of people are thanking and praising me for rescuing these girls. But my response, and I'll say it forever because I believe it to be true: These girls rescued me.

PS: Anyone who would like to check in on Tallulah and Geneva from time to time, feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

PS again: If you want to help support the amazing efforts and precious widdle kittehz at HART, please CLICK HERE! You can even tell them Tallulah and Geneva sentcha, if you want to. :)

PS once more: If you'd like to spoil my kittehz, there's a whole lotta cat stuff on my Amazon wishlist.

Final PS: In a last-ditch effort to get this blog back on-topic, here's a fact: African violets are nontoxic to kitties! So that pretty much means everyone should have both in their homes at all times, as nature obviously intended.
I'm jussayin'!

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