Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy 4th Gotcha Day, Toffee!

It baffles me to think about how we dithered about adopting Toffee over two long days. This is the first photo of him that I took, at the Animal Rescue League:

And I hesitated? "Adirondack" was gorgeous, as friendly and sweet as could be, and he took a nap in my arms.

Well, I wanted my husband to see him. So after I spent a few hours with him that afternoon, the shelter let me put him on hold as  they were closing for the day. He was getting neutered in the morning and couldn't go home with anyone until that evening, anyway.

The next afternoon, I arrived and hung out with him, ambivalent, until my husband arrived after work. I spent a few more hours holding Toffee and hanging out by his cage. I prevented a frat house from adopting him and at least one quirky couple. I remember thinking that I just couldn't let this kitten be adopted by anyone wearing a ponytail that stuck straight up from the top of her head. (His picture had appeared in a news story about the shelter and people who saw it were coming in to look him over.)

When my husband showed up, he was ambivalent, too — but it was probably because I was ambivalent. What was the matter with me? Look at this kitten:

Sleeping in my husband's arms at the shelter:

Finally, it was getting toward closing time, and a photographer had arrived to take "Adirondack's" photo for his adoption listing. That finally spurred us into action; we signed all the papers, and took him home in a cab. We were a four-cat family again and it was good. Although I continued to be nervous about him for a year.

I eventually figured out why. Toffee was so perfect that I was afraid that someone had lost him and would come looking for him. At the Animal Rescue League, adopted pets can be reclaimed by their previous owners — if they were lost or strayed — for a whole year after they arrive there. I just couldn't believe anyone would surrender this kitten:

So, during the first year we had him, I was always a bit of a wreck and didn't relax until his first Gotcha Day. When I told my vet how worried I was, she told me to stop. Not because no one would claim him, but because she'd change his markings with magic markers so he'd look like a different cat. I knew we'd never do anything so dishonest (well . . . maybe I would) but it still made me feel better. Nevertheless, I didn't let myself fall madly in love with him; I loved him cautiously. 

Who wouldn't love him? He was a spectacular kitten. Not crazy-active like some, but playful and adventurous — with purpose. Mostly, his purpose was to get into trouble and put himself at risk. He was his own science project: "What will happen if I eat this?" What will happen if I knock that on the floor?" "What will happen if I jump on hot stove burners on New Year's Eve?" What will happen if I chew a bunch of light bulbs off a lit Christmas tree?" "What will happen if I eat a long length of string from a pole toy while my human's on the phone with her sick relative?"

The answers to most of those questions weren't great. The answer to the last one was: doses of horse tranquilizer for both Harris and Toffee in the emergency ward at the local hospital (since we didn't know who ate the string). Fortunately, Toffee barfed up the toy, saving us two endoscopies, at least. But the tranquilizer knocked him out for a very long, scary day, probably because he was already on pain meds from his New Year's Eve stove jump. Life with Toffee the kitten was never dull.

Possum instantly took him under his wing, as he did with Harris. Possum was extremely avuncular with those two: washing them, letting them attack him, fake-wrestling, cuddling. It seems he wanted a posse:

Toffee was quite the charmer when he wasn't trying to destroy himself or our possessions:

To this day, I keep asking him when he's going to grow back the stellar ear tufts he had at the shelter. He lost them within months of coming home with us. I think they were rental tufts, passed from cat to cat to speed up adoptions:

I had even more pictures to post here, but something's wrong with my photo library so they imported as tiny and pixelated. I hope they haven't vanished. I foresee a long call with AppleCare support in my near future.

Toffee and Harris were great friends from Day 1:

There is nothing nicer than seeing cats curled up together companionably or hearing kittens chasing each other in the middle of the night.

Toffee grew up into the perfect cat. He's classic and dignified. He would look like a wild forest creature except for his white sneakers and butterfly-shaped milk mustache, which do not belong on a ferocious killing machine.

Happy Gotcha Day, Toffee! I'm glad I finally made up my mind.



  1. How sweet. This totally made me chuckle.. especially the bit about the marker.

  2. Happy Gotcha Day, Toffee! Such a handsome kitty; he looks happy!


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