I miss Sarafina and Alegria very much, but coming home to an empty house was even worse. This weekend, my husband and I headed to the shelters to look at cats. Spoiler alert: We came home with two black kittens!
The decision to look at cats was not an easy one. I didn’t want to get an animal just for the sake of having a pet. I didn’t want to get a new kitty and then be mad that the new kitty wasn’t my old kitty. I had thought it might be nice, even, to go cat-less for awhile; no litter box to clean, no little critter to steal my bed.
But I’ve had a cat for most of my life, around 20 years, and it’s too late to stop now.
My husband and I looked at Petfinder and at the websites of local shelters and rescues. Our criteria were few: female and under five-years-old. I’d adopted Alegria as a kitten, but we’d adoped Sarafina when she was four; babies and adults have their pluses and minuses. With both, it was obvious “this is the one” and I hoped to make that connection again.
We went to five different shelters (well, three of those were PetSmarts/PetCos) and looked at all sorts of sweet kitties. I wanted to adopt all of the kitties, especially the older ones. Allie got to spend her golden years being loved; all cats deserve that. But none of them felt right.
Our final stop of the day was the Oregon Humane Society. In fact, we adopted Sarafina from OHS almost six years ago, exactly. It’s a lovely facility, with one wing for cats and another wing for dogs and small animals. Some kitties are confined to cages, but there are also several rooms full of beds and toys. OHS was full of people looking for pets and volunteers to help.
We didn’t know where to start, so we started with the kittens. The kitten room was surprisingly sparse, just four, and one was already on hold. So we met the other three: Phillis Collins (originaly they thought she was a “Phil,” and, well. . . .), Gloria Estefan, and Paula Abdul. Phillis immediately snuggled in my arms and started purring. Gloria crawled onto my neck and started purring.
We didn’t want to jump on the kitten bandwagon or adopt the first cat we saw, so we spent some time meeting some other cats. We got to meet several beautiful girls, but unfortunately none of them had that instant connection. Many also had health problems. I feel like a huge jerk adopting kittens over older cats; it’s hard enough to get adopted, never mind if you need a special diet or something. Having watched two cats sicken and die this year, though, I’d like animals that will, hopefully, stay healthy for a while.
Interestingly, our kittens are part of a “second chance” program. OHS takes in animals from California, Washington, Idaho, and Hawaii and gives them a second chance at being adopted. Our kittens are from California. Like my husband.
I will say, the volunteer who helped us, Jill, was amazing. She was very upfront about each cat; she clearly wanted to make a good match and not just get animals out the door. She was also clearly fond of all of the animals. It was really cool.
But those kittens had tugged at our heart. Since we both work outside of the house, we decided to get two so they could keep each other company: Phillis and Gloria. The shelter wasn’t sure if they are littermates, but they certainly look like it. They are both black (Phillis has a few strands of white on her back) with big ears and big golden eyes. Phillis is slightly larger and more outgoing; Gloria is very shy. They are about four months old.
I cried while we waited for the paperwork to be processed. I miss my other cats. I’m so sad Alegria isn’t here to teach them things, like how to open doors. (Which is a good thing, my husband reminds me.) I am sad to know that in ten or fifteen years, I will lose them, too. I felt all the things.
Gloria managed to bite through the cardboard carrier on the way home, getting her head stuck in a hole. She managed to get her head back in the box and I plugged the hole with a cloth bag from Powell’s.
The shelter recommended keeping them to one room for awhile, so we set up the second bedroom for them. They both use the litter box and scratching posts like champs. Unfortunately, they are still a little skittish and I do have to remind myself that it will take some time before they are ready to snuggle. It took Sarafina quite a while to feel truly comfortable with us, and I imagine it will be the same for the babies.
We don’t have names picked out yet. I like “Gloria” okay, but not “Phillis.” My husband is letting me pick, but he claims veto power and doesn’t like any I’ve chosen so far. I’d kind of like names that go along with “Sarafina” and “Alegria.”
Finally, there’s still the issue of the outdoor cats. We haven’t seen Big Buddy in months, and we fear the worst. Little Buddy is still around. We tried and tried to bring her in, but she never got the hang of the litter box; at two-and-a-half, it might be too late for her. But maybe the kittens can teach her? Anyway, the kittens have several rounds of shots to go before they can meet Little Buddy. And maybe Big Buddy is off having adventures and will turn up once the weather gets colder.
Right now, Phillis is in a paper bag and Gloria is trying to get to her. They are so full of energy! I forgot what kittens are like. I cannot wait to get to know them as cats. Now they are chasing each other. They have already figured out how to climb to the top of the bookshelves, too. And they caught and ate a slug. Kittens, I tell ya.