Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anti-anxiety cats

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Sunday, for the first time since we adopted him in November, Zamboni almost sat on my lap. I was wearing a long skirt and sitting the way I do, knees drawn up, on the end of the sofa that Neil calls the Bunn spot. Zamboni got up under my left knee and peeked up out of my skirt.

He hung out there for a little while, which was the longest he's voluntarily stayed in physical contact with me.

I was feeling weirdly anxious for no reason on that Sunday, Neil was at work of course. This time of year I have to fight the temptation to never leave the house. It's so nice and cool in there while outside it's just blistering hot. I didn't have anything pressing to do. I needed shrink wrap, for wrapping glass, Neil wanted me to pick up milk, I wanted some ear buds for my ipad, and I had two packages to drop at the USPS. I could have put everything off until Monday.

But I mapped out a logical sequence for those errands, starting at Lowes for the shrink wrap and ending at Kroger for the milk (which obviously has to be the last stop).

I had a cup of green tea with honey first, trying to calm the pressure in my chest, breathing in the steam to alleviate the feeling of breathlessness. Then I muscled through my inertia and headed out.

I admit it, I had a hidden agenda. My route took me past Petco, where Save our Strays does pet adoptions on Sundays. I saw on Facebook that they had kittens. So after Lowes, I found my car turning into the Petco parking lot.

I wanted to hold this boy.

His name is Basil and his twin brother already was adopted. He was in a cage with some step-siblings. One black, one gray, one marmalade, one dilute tortoiseshell. The little tortie was the friendliest, but I wanted to hold Basil, who is a flame point. He's about the size Zamboni was when we got him. He tolerated being held, but was distracted by all the smells and sights at Petco.

Still, the best cure for anxiety is to hold a kitten. I felt better holding his small warm body. I've signed up for volunteer training at Sugar Land Animal Services. The first training I can take is in early August. I'm looking forward to working with adoptable cats again.

I really still miss Puck so much. He was such a needy cat, he loved to sit on my lap and he purred like nobody's business. I love Loki and Zamboni, but both are very independent, friendly, sociable at times, but slightly aloof and rarely cuddly. My next cat will be affectionate. I want another white cat too, with odd eyes, like Puck. I'm happy to be patient until I find him, especially as I've always thought the right number of cats is two, and we have our two. If I found another month-old baby like Gris, all bets would be off, because all found kittens must be kept.

Kandace posted this picture of her cat, Rocky, on Facebook last night.

Rocky came to my back door on the Friday night after Thanksgiving, 2006. Buffy our min pin, was in the house, asleep in her crate. I gave Rocky some food and figured when we let Buffy out in the morning, that would be the last we'd see of Rocky. Astonishingly, Rocky made friends with Buffy and continued to hang out in our yard. He had silky soft fur and he learned his new name very quickly.

Even though I know I shouldn't have, I felt happy when I called him and he'd come running.

I already had a dog and a cat, I wasn't looking for another pet.

Then the weather turned cold. It was early December and a freeze was predicted. How could I let Rocky stay outside?

I couldn't just bring him inside though. He was a whole Tom who more than likely had parasites and might have one of the contagious feline disorders. So I took him to our vet, and $125 later, he'd been treated for mites and worms, tested for FIV and FLV, and gotten a round of vaccinations.

I took him home and moved him into the hall bathroom, apprehensive about how that would work out.

He was a perfect gentleman. He used the litter box, slept in the bed I gave him, played with toys in the bathtub. He never yowled to get out of that bathroom. He never scratched the door. He was happy to see me when I brought his food and good as gold in that little bathroom for the three or four days of icy weather.

He'd made friends with Buffy but it was not as easy with Puck. I introduced them gradually but didn't leave them unsupervised. Puck was anxiety cat and Rocky was alpha cat. He moved in like he owned the palace, I mean the place.

I put ads - Found Cat - in the local papers and notified the shelters and local vets. I did pretty much the reverse of everything I did when I lost Gris, except maybe putting out hundreds of flyers. No one came forward so I started half-heartedly making efforts to re-home him.

He is just so soft and has the cleanest white fur and clearest eyes of any cat I've owned. But there were problems. He bullied Puck. He got up on things and broke things. Neil wasn't happy about having another cat. Especially one who broke things.

Still he moved with us to Sugar Land in April and I continued asking around if anyone wanted a cat.

It was about this time that I first saw Loki. I was at Petco for something and there was a cat adoption event in progress. Loki was in a cage with two other kittens who were sleeping soundly while Loki energetically amused himself with a ball. He reminded me of Neil, who I like to describe as "easily amused."

About a week later I was in Dallas on business and I had dinner with Kandace and her future ex-husband. They had taken Buffy when they moved to DFW after graduating from college, and Kandace thought it would be nice to have a cat (like Rocky) as company for Buffy. After all, Rocky had made friends with Buffy, against all odds.

I made some calls and found out Loki was still available for adoption.

I called Neil and told him about the good news. Rocky would be leaving and we could adopt Loki. (Neil said, that's not good news, to the part about adopting Loki.) But I knew he'd fall in love once he met him. Neil is like Veronica Mars. A marshmallow.

A month and a comedy of errors went by before I brought Loki home. And Neil does love him.

The one fly in the ointment was that Rocky didn't turn out to be a good companion for Buffy. We think that Rocky, in his clumsy playfulness, accidentally scratched Buffy's eye the first time they were reunited. Rocky settled into his new life like the adaptable cat he is, but he and Buffy coexisted without rapprochement. Ironically, Rocky really bonded with Sabrina, a boxer who joined the household later. It's beautiful how they romp and skirmish and clearly show affection for each other.

It makes me happy when Kandace posts pictures of Rocky on Facebook. I've felt guilty that I foisted him off on her. She's not really a cat person and I've worried that she tolerates Rocky but that is about it. So this cheered me up.

She got him a new bed. She does like him.

And here's my big bear, who I have because Rocky went to live with Kandace.

Loki. With Puck. Who he loved. And with Zamboni. Who he, well, he's working on it.

"Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good."

(Stephen Schwartz, For Good, from Wicked)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz