I would consider myself a lover of all animals, but I would definitely classify myself as a feline person. I am sure this is due to the fact that my childhood pet was a cat that lived 17 long and loving years. It seemed natural for me to look to felines once I was ready to have my own pets in adulthood.
After college, I moved into a large two-story house with three other friends. One of the boys brought with him his two furry ones that he had come to know and love: Göst, an all-white male Scottish Fold, and Cali, a female Calico. It was great to have these four-legged creatures sharing space with us, but they naturally gravitated toward their master’s bedroom. Since we had so much space in our house, I decided to buy myself a kitten and introduced Betty (a female tortoise shell color) to the mix. In a four-bedroom home, there was plenty of room for the elderly to escape the psycho kitty when needed, so Betty’s assimilation into the home went (mostly) on wheels.
As with most roommate situations, there came a time when we had to move on with our lives. The owner of Göst and Cali was the first to leave, but the cats were not with him. He moved in with his girlfriend and claimed that he couldn’t have pets in his new home, but I knew it was just a cover story for his partner’s desire not to have them. So I gladly volunteered to take care of the cats, which wasn’t that difficult since I did most of the cat maintenance in the first place.
Fast forward to winter 2005; Göst is 15 years old, Cali 13 years old and Betty 10 years old. They have moved in with me three times and have gotten used to the one bedroom apartments. Sadly, in February, Cali fell ill and passed away. It saddened me more than I ever imagined, but I was grateful to have the other two around to help ease the pain. Not expecting to experience any more losses, I decided to go ahead with Ghost and Betty and not get a new kitten. That game plan didn’t last long.
In the days after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I saw the many news reports about pets that needed to be rescued. Many of these frightened animals were being taken to shelters near me in California, and the big softie in me asked about adopting a kitten that needed a new home. The logistics to do so turned out not to be that simple, so I did the best I could and decided to adopt a baby they already had at home to make room for the oncoming rescues.
I consulted my vet before going ahead with my plans, and she recommended getting a male, as a female would drive Betty crazier than she was already expecting. When I went to the shelter, I saw an orange tabby cat and it was love at first sight for both of us. He head-butted the glass partition when I took my first look at him, and he ran and jumped onto my lap when I was able to play with him in the private room. Deal done … the little boy became known as Otis and it was time to take him to his new home to meet his new siblings.
Needless to say, Göst and Betty were less than delighted with the new addition, especially Betty, as she was no longer “the baby.” We live in tight spaces, so there are no rooms on the second floor to hide and avoid. Göst got excited about Otis first, which may have been a move he regretted. Having another cat crawling on you and chewing on various appendages may be fine when the other cat is a small kitten, but not so much after that kitten has tripled in size and captured the energetic spirit of a wild boar. Göst still has a bit more time before he loses the size battle, but I can tell from his meows that he’s getting frustrated at being tackled. Hate to hear him complain, but it’s been fun watching this nursing home act like a kid again.
Betty and Otis’s love party has been, and will continue to be, a slow work in progress. From day one, just the sight of Otis put Betty in a literal hissing fit. They have progressed to the point where they can share the same space (like my bed) and the hiss has been reserved for when Otis channels his inner dread and gets into his face. As much as I wish they got along better, their jokes have been good because they have given Betty some much-needed exercise.
It’s this same energetic spirit that keeps me awake during the wee hours of the morning: Otis paces the apartment, bumps into walls and furniture, and gets into everything in sight while trying to see how fast he can. cover 700 square feet of space. I have grown wiser with each passing day and have developed rituals in an attempt to avoid these nightly transgressions. We play fetch with his favorite toy about an hour before he plans to hit the sheets so he’s nice and tired and ready for bed at the same time that I’m nice and tired and ready to go to bed. I also keep all the pens on my desk, pick up their toys, and empty my trash can of their contents. This doesn’t work perfectly every night, and it’s impossible to avoid Göst’s playful meowing attacks, but I’ve slept a bit more.