Start with the mice!
Today is National Pet Day. It’s making me a bit nostalgic to relive a time when a feisty, loving tortie cat entered my life. This is a bit of a long read but ones that tugs on your heartstrings.
Not so long ago, I noticed a small tortoiseshell cat on the corner of a major avenue intersection. She crouched down looking at the world around her of rowdy teens and overtired adults.
When I got closer to her, I noticed her fur had several bald patches. Despite her obviously ill appearance, she had an outgoing and confident personality living up to the tortie legend. Petting her I felt the bones protruding under the skin. I began a routine of feeding her breakfast and dinner when I came home from work. People noticed me feeding her and giving reports she’s been chased by angry homeowners and fighting the more seasoned street smart cats. I knew I couldn’t let her stay on the street.
I took to my vet. She tested negative for FIV and FeLV, plus, she had a spay scar. The bad news she had friends of fleas and their internal buddies – parasites. The craziest part came when the vet scanned her shoulder to discover she was chipped! The office called the owners registered to the chip number. They shamelessly said they were not interested in the cat anymore.
I thought this had to be a divine sign. I had been wanting to get Lancelot some company, perhaps this girl was the one. Because of her infections, the vet instructed she and Lancelot could share the litter box or food/water bowls. This meant their interacting together had to be very closely monitored. The saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression certainly fit Lancelot and Swee’Pea’s (her new name) encounter. Disaster from day one and even after two months, it never got better. Only worse.
Lancelot became obsessed with her. He wouldn’t give the poor thing space, nor would he take the cues of her growling and hissing to leave her alone. I got Lancelot from the ASPCA and his origins are somewhat of a mystery. I always suspected he did not have the opportunity to be around his siblings and his mother long enough for proper socialization. I tried switching them in different rooms, giving Swee’Pea towels he laid on to get used to his scent. These two were so incompatible, my then boyfriend at the time put a pet gate in between them when we went to work. By the approach of the third month, I knew she couldn’t stay but she would stay as long as it took until she could find a loving home.
I told a cat-loving coworker about my stressful situation. He said to call the Mayor’s Animal Alliance for NYC’s Animals. They helped him out when he rescued a stray off the street. I hesitated hoping I could find her a home but a lot of people were not interested in adopting (understandably so) a cat when they were still undergoing parasitic treatment. I finally broke down and spoke to a representative at the Mayor’s Animal Alliance, she said since the cat is chipped look if it can be traced back to a shelter or rescue. She said if they’re a no-kill shelter they will want her back
The people at HomeAgain would not release the origin of her microchip number. They said it had to come from a veterinarian’s office or animal rescue. My boyfriend had lady luck on his side. He said the customer service person told him right away Swee’Pea’s original chip owner was on other than the ASPCA! I immediately called them, and they verified that Ms. Swee’Pea was indeed theirs. They would be more than happy to take her back and finish up her medical treatment.
While joy and relief swept through me, I also had a horrible feeling. Those owners who dumped Swee’Pea adopted her from their organization. Their vetting process isn’t very thorough as I got Lancelot for a mere $30.00 and filled out an application. With a cautious heart, I did take Swee’Pea back to the ASPCA. They told me she has been here twice times already. One family took her back after they adopted her followed by those demons who left her to die on the street. I wanted to cry right then and there. They said they will continue treating her and when she is well enough to be put up for adoption.
I wanted to know about the people who abandoned her and left the cat to die. She said they are now flagged on their database and will be escorted off the premises if they fail to leave voluntarily. I asked who is in charge of their adoptions. They gave me the contact information of the executive director of their adoption center. I wrote a heartfelt and very detailed letter about Swee’Pea. I gave her the chip number all the information I could about this very sweet girl. I explained it can’t be stressed enough that due to this poor girl’s history of abandonment, stricter vetting procedures must be made in her case.
I got a response back that Swee’Pea is doing well and I could call anytime to check up on her. I did just that. They told me she is healing up nicely and getting a lot of interaction with staff as she has been through a lot. I kept checking up on Swee’Pea until I found out she got adopted. I pray in my heart of hearts this is her final home. It’s too bad she and Lancelot couldn’t stand one another. A definite love connection fail. I won’t give up hope. I know his “Guinevere” is out there for him.
Most of us have been there more than once in our lives. Life can be a cruel irony at times. We get knocked down with one crisis followed by another. A lot of these crises hit us financially.
It’s taboo, and rightfully so, although people should get the assistance if they truly need it, for parents to give up their children when they run into hard times. You can’t dump your child off at a shelter because you lost your job or suddenly, they become an inconvenience. I’m not saying beloved pet has more importance than human children, but I do find it odd how easy you can discard a sentient being that you have voluntarily decided to adopt into your life to take care of.
Unfortunately, the law in our society view pets or any animal you are taking care of as property, with little to no rights, although this “property” unlike inanimate objects, can think and feel. Organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund is working to change how the legislation views animals as property.
I remember years ago when I was working a terrible and stressful corporate job in the Wall Street area while going to school at night for my master’s degree. I knew I wouldn’t be able to successfully graduate unless I gave up that toxic job. The degree was an investment in my future, and I wasn’t going to let a dead-end job with a boss who was notorious at stringing her team along with hopes of advancements that would never come. I quit with a few thousand dollars in savings. I would be alright for only a couple of months. Plan B? I had none.
During this time, I had my beloved two cats – two sibling brothers who I loved dearly. Looking back, I never ever even entertained the idea of giving them up, even when I had the fear that I couldn’t make the rent. Failing them would not even enter the equation. I managed to get full-time employment in the nick of time after a few months of leaving the Wall Street law firm. I knew I would.
I am sympathetic to people who are struggling to make ends meet that has children. The children are the priority, yet, at the same time, I hope those families exhausted every possibility of trying to keep their entire family intact with their pets as they weather the storm.
Usually, the storm always subsides. How long it stays before it leaves is another matter.
Wasn’t a good V-day for me. Started a new job I hate a week ago. It’s a horrible feeling to go into work with fear and dread.
Anyway, I came home tonight and my Lancelot, as always, waiting at the door as he hears the key turning the locks. Of course, he’s hungry but even after he is giving his dinner, he purrs and wants my undivided attention. That’s when I realize. I have a Valentine every day in the form of this lovable and at times crazy cat. He drives me insane with his meowing in the wee hours of the morning for his breakfast; how he is obsessed with the closet; the fact he will meow telling me to get out of bed and be productive because he doesn’t like for me to sleep in. Despite all his quirks, his love and attention are unwavering. No matter how down I feel he is there to pick me up.
Will you be my Valentine, Lancelot? You’re certainly mine.
Lancelot the Grey hopes everyone had a great Tuna Tuesday. He sure did. Nighty night. 😽
Let’s talk about love, shall we? Or shall I say, dating and relationships? Has your cat (or any type of beloved pet) become a source of contention between you and your love life?
I don’t want to gender the conversation, but I can only speak from my perspective as a woman. A lot of us have gotten involved in relationships that we deeply regretted. Several years ago, the man I was with every so often threatened me with ‘It’s me or the cats!’ I spent a lot of time over at his place away from my beloved kitties. The time we were at my place I enjoyed my cats’ company. He wanted all my attention. Any time he laid down the kitty ultimatum, I told him there’s the door. He dropped it altogether since he knew he couldn’t manipulate me. I later got involved with feline-friendly men who did not feel threatened by these magnificent mysterious beings.
Have you, no matter your gender, had tension within your relationships due to your partner not liking your pets and pressuring you to give them up? I cringe at people who submitted to such a decision against their will. How many pets winded up at shelters to be euthanized (heartbreaking) or giving away to someone else (obvious better scenario but still heartbreaking) on a relationship that probably ended? If you were pressured? If so, how did you deal with it? Were you two able to resolve it and come to an understanding that kept your pets safe and loved? Or did you just dump them?
Adopting a pet is a serious lifelong commitment. I don’t think it’s crazy or unreasonable to expect that we humans can love our fur babies while also enjoying love ourselves from our own species.