Friday, October 20, 2017

Harris Bliss

Possum and Harris are curled up beside me as I write this. Harris may seem a little annoyed in these photos but that's just his natural pout. He adores being Possum's kitten and getting his head washed. The last photo shows that best.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Harris Is Alarmed

Harris is a brave (and entitled) little guy but he didn't like the sound of my electric hand mixer in HIS kitchen the other night. A less courageous cat would flee, but Harris chose to confront the danger — up to a point. His safe distance was a few inches beyond the kitchen threshold.

In these photos he is glaring with widened pupils, and was on the verge of puffing up his tail fur and being hissy-growly, but I talked him out of it.

I guess I should do a lot more baking so he gets accustomed to it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gorgeous Dahlias

The Siena Farms stand at the Copley Square Farmer's Market has the most amazing dahlia bouquets these days. I'd love to have some but dahlias are toxic to cats so we can only enjoy them there. And here:

Monday, October 16, 2017

We Need a Bigger Sofa

The cats are enjoying the sofa these days, especially Possum. My husband and I are often relegated to the armchairs. At least we have clear views of whatever bellies are on display. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Happy 8th Gotcha Day, Possum!

It's Possum's Gotcha Day, and I found a screenshot of his listing from 2009:

I was reminiscing this morning about how tiny, vocal, and charming "Passamaquoddy" was when he arrived, how he swept us all off our feet . . . and then all the nasty health problems we had to nurse him through when he was still just a baby. I went on at length about how I had to lay him on his back on my lap to drip saline drops into his tiny nose to make him sneeze — and help him breathe. We had vaporizer sessions together, too. "Those were the days, Possum," I said, looking in his eyes. In response, he squawked at me — his comments are usually pointed and imperative these days — but then he came over to perch on my lap, purring, as I told him what a spectacular cat he's always been.

All photos (except for the screenshot of Possum’s listing) were taken by 
Possum's foster mother. She and her children were experts at socializing feral kittens. 
The rescue is now called CaRMaH (Cat Rescue of Marlborough and Hudson)

Lap time with Possum is such a treat for me. He has come to prefer my husband's company and lap to mine for the past few years.* But, as Jane Austen's more pompous characters would say, he occasionally "condescends" to honor me with his presence, noblesse oblige.

Possum is in the back; his lookalike sister Abenaki and brother Ossipee are in front.
My husband reminded him, as he always does, with a hint of bitternesss: "And everybody thought you were a girl." Indeed, that's why we have Possum. His Petfinder listing said “female.” My husband kept insisting that he only wanted female cats whereas I prefer males, since in general I find they are more companionable with people and each other. When we chose Possum, I was resigned to having three female cats and one male . . . until the pre-adoption vet visit revealed the truth.

Passamaquoddy becoming a lap cat in a child's arms.

I hung up after the call from his foster mother and yelled to my husband in the next room: "He's a boy! We're getting a little boy!" He has since come around to the joys of male bonding.

Using his mighty powers of positive thinking to draw more food under his nose.

As we cooed over Possum this morning, I did not mention that I'd had to overrule my husband's further objections to his lopped-off ear. I’m still trying to forget that; I hope Possum has. When I looked at him all I saw was an adorable, highly intelligent kitten. I had no patience for nitpicking comments about ears. As I studied his face in the Petfinder photos, I could tell he was extraordinary.

One of my biggest regrets in recent years is that we didn't adopt his sister Abenaki, too. She was every bit as fabulous as Possum: smart, sweet, and maybe even a tad more affectionate as a baby. (Ossipee, also a winner, was already spoken for.) Her adoptive people found this blog several years ago and sent me news and photos, telling me that she, like Possum, grew up to be "well-upholstered" and very outgoing. She also quickly mastered all sorts of tricks. If I were the trick-teaching type, I’ll bet Possum would learn, but I’m not.

Anyhow, I really wanted Abenaki, too. But we'd just adopted Wendy, so Abi would have been Cat #5.

His foster mother sent us more baby photos after his adoption.

Five cats?? That was too crazy to even imagine! No one can have five cats in a small apartment like ours! Our vet had already read us the riot act about the increased risk of territorial difficulties with four cats (and one big litter box), so we reluctantly left Abenaki behind. Their foster mother said she thought she'd quickly find a home, whereas Passamaquoddy would probably have to wait longer because of his ear.

But, of course, he was going to be our cat. I forced myself to “consider” the decision overnight and emailed the foster mother the next morning, and waited nervously to hear back, and finally heaved a massive sigh of relief when she called with the news that no one else had claimed him.

These outfits are supposed to be royal robes with crowns. The Three Kings?

The night we brought him home, we tried to settle him in the big dog crate we'd borrowed for Wendy, who was now out and about in our apartment, three weeks after her adoption. He refused, so we settled for keeping him in my husband's office for a week until our other three cats got used to him. He insisted on sharing our burritos as we sat on the floor with him that night. Then I slept on the floor with him curled up behind my knees. After that, he made friends quickly with the other cats through the closed door, reducing his jail time to a couple of days. Then he effortlessly took command of our lives.

What I tend not to remember nostalgically about that time is how terribly broken I'd been before we found Possum. It was only about six weeks after our adored Bunnelina had died after a long, sad illness. I'd been looking for a lifeline on, to lessen the worst grief and guilt I'd ever felt — worse than losing beloved relatives, because I was the one who decided when to end her life.

I used think it quite unseemly to adopt a new cat before observing at least several months of proper mourning. Fortunately, I seem to be improving with age. Life is short, nobody is getting any younger, cats are dying in shelters, loneliness is unnecessary in this case, and you can do as you please. (You can even have five cats, or maybe six!) The intensity of my grief matched the intensity of my search for kitten prospects. It strikes me now as a healthy response. Bunny had been my soul-cat. Making that final decision about her had to be be painfully hard. If we didn't have regrets, guilt, sorrow, and pain about making that choice, we wouldn't be human. But there is also a way to heal. Bunny had given me so much happiness as I cared for her throughout her life. I wanted to honor her memory by caring for others.

Our two remaining cats were doing just fine; I had too much time on my hands. I wanted cats who needed me. Wendy and Possum — but especially Possum, with his extraordinary personality — were exactly what I needed. Sometimes, the life you think you're saving turns out to be your own.

* Honestly, who wouldn't? He's a distinguished scholar, a beloved teacher, an all-around good guy, and frequently funny, whereas my chief characteristics are: lazy, sleep-deprived, bordering on cranky, and still figuring out what to be when I grow up. My long-term goals are to sit around, eat unwholesome food, and stay out of jail. I see Possum's point; I just wish he wasn’t so intelligent.