(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 5/5/12)
You see, my little stinker, Mars, passed away almost exactly one year ago. He was both cute and a terror. He was my first cat. He was with me for 14 years. He taught me alotabout cats. He saw me through grad school, a divorce, a move to Jersey City, several boyfriends, a move to Los Angeles , and basically was there while I turned into a human adult. He rolled with the punches. He was really good at just being a cat.
Mars got really sick at the end, and the last few months with him were wonderful…bittersweet, but wonderful. He had to be put to sleep on the closing night of a show I was in – The Vagina Monologues. It was a pretty terrible day saying goodbye to this cat, this creature that had become my friend and seen me through a multitude of major life changes, and leave all of that behind to go onstage. But, the show must go on. And go on it does.
Fast forward one year.
I’m in The Vagina Monologues again. I’m experiencing major deja-vu. And I’m feeling this extraordinary need to have something in my life to love. Frankly, 2012 has not been such a great year so far and I need a little sunshine. I’m thinking it’s about time to have a cat in my life again. Adam – who can best be described as “cat tolerant” – has finally acquiesced on the notion of getting a new feline friend. So I immediately go on the hunt. “This time”, I think, “this time I will do it right”. I will take my time. I’ll define what I’m looking for. I’ll find the cat that will fit best into my family life. And, most of all, I’ll trust my gut. I go to many adoption days. I meet lots of cats. I pet them. I hold them. I talk to them. I look online. I read about different breeds. There are so many lovely cats – but none that call out to me. I start to worry that I’m making a big mistake, I’m moving too fast, I’m jumping into something that I don’t really have time for, have room for in my life. I’m starting to obsess that I’m obsessing about cats! I don’t want to be the cat lady! I’m going to be 37 in a month, it’s a quick and slippery slope…
I wait until The Vagina Monologues closes. I decide to go to the Super Pet Adoption event at the La Brea Tar Pits. I know I want a rescue cat. And I figure, this event will decide for me. There will be so many cats there, if I don’t find the right one there then I won’t find it anywhere. I go by myself, on the last day, during the last hour of the event. I walk into the cat adoption tent. People are everywhere, there are stacks and stacks of cages with dozens of cats from dozens of shelters and rescue groups and it is overwhelming. My nose starts to run uncontrollably. I start to worry I’ve developed an allergy and it would be wrong to bring a cat home. I walk up to the first row of cages and am immediately met by a very helpful albeit aggressive woman who wants to know exactly what I’m looking for in a cat and which cats in her group will be a fit for me. She volunteers at the Downey shelter. I meet several really great, sweet cats. I learn that all the cats from Downey are scheduled to be euthanized the next day. I didn’t know I was going to get the hard sell here, that my heart would be tugged at with such force. But I go with my original plan – I’m going to look at all the cats, and see if there is one that seems like the right one to bring home. I walk around some more. Some cats are from shelters, some are from rescues and live with a foster family. All the cats need a new home, some more desperately than others. So many cats!
I walk by a row of cats from the Castaic shelter. And I’m stopped in my tracks by this face:
I’m struck by how much this cat reminds me of Mars. This cat has all the things I loved about the way he looked – black and white, long hair, pretty face – and a black nose to boot! So I walk over to get a closer look. This is Bubbles (ugh, awful name) and a girl kitty (was really hoping for a boy). But I just stand there for a few moments and look at her. A very nice volunteer named Bridget comes over to give me the low-down on Bubbles and answer my questions: a climber? don’t know, talkative? not really, good with other cats/dogs? not sure. Bubbles has been in the shelter for a month as an owner surrender, and as they could remember it was because the owner had passed away. She had come in with another cat who was adopted right away. Bubbles was not particularly responsive to me, but something kept me standing there. I pet her, and she didn’t bite or hiss. I brushed her with the same result, didn’t seem to bother her. Taking her to the meet & greet was out of the question as she did not do well in a carrier on the car ride there. So no holding her. Bubbles kind of gave me the cold shoulder. Bridget said she thought Bubbles was depressed. She said “Bubbles, perk up! You’re blowing it!”. But by that time I had made up my mind. This was my cat. I couldn’t explain it rationally, but my gut said this was my cat. I was nervous, scared I was making a terrible, rash decision, but before my head knew what had happened my mouth had said “I’ll take her”. Some paperwork was filled out, some cash exchanged, and I was on my way with a box that had a cat inside.
Holy crap, I have a cat!
The car ride home was an unhappy one for the now-unnamed cat (Bubbles had to go) and poop was involved (hers, not mine). But we made it home, and I brought the cat into the bathroom to slowly introduce her to the house. That lasted about 2.5 seconds. She wanted out, so I let her. She walked around the whole house, checking it all out. She didn’t hide. She even played with the feather toys that Mars had always loved. Adam came home, and met the new addition. She didn’t run away, she didn’t hiss… All seemed good. That night she decided she wanted to sleep under the bed, which given the circumstances seemed like a perfectly good idea.
At 5:30 the next morning I woke up to the sounds of the cat emerging from under the bed. She stretched, shook off her sleepiness and immediately jumped into bed with us. She turned on the purr machine, and pranced around the bed in a sort of blissed-out, kitty-paws, trance. She snuggled up between Adam and I, and I thought before Adam kicks us out I’m going to take our new friend into the living room to get to know her. I’d been thinking about names, taking suggestions from friends, and decided to try them out on her to see what she thought. I sat on the couch and called “Venus!” and she stopped in her tracks, looked sharply at me and literally ran and jumped into my lap. “Well, I guess we know what your name is”.
It’s been a week now, and Venus has claimed us. She is appropriately named. Whereas Mars was a fighter, she is a lover. She is incredibly affectionate, and has even won Adam over. She’s got her spots in the house she likes, typically in the windows peering out at the birds. She has behaved perfectly, and has found her voice – she makes these cute, funny little squirrel sounds. And she purrs constantly.
I really don’t want to be the cat lady, but I think it’s a role I’m meant to play. I’m completely smitten with this cat. I don’t think I could have chosen a better match. She seems really happy to be here, and I am absolutely delighted to have her. Even Adam has taken a shine to her. I keep catching him petting her and talking to her…so unlike he was with Mars!
This cat has my heart in her paw, and I’m so glad to have been able to give her a new, loving home!