I couldn’t help but smile and reach for my camera tonight as I glanced over and saw these two cats laying across my laptop. They are two peas in a pod. Elliot is the latest foster cat in the home for wayward animals (a.k.a. our house).
It seems everyone in our house has a soft spot for animals. In addition to the standard fare like two dogs (both of which have since passed away) and cats (more on this craziness later), we’ve raised baby birds who’ve fallen from the nest, baby bunnies abandoned by their moms, turtles rescued from the middle of the highway, umpteen hamsters (including Bear, the one-eyed blind hamster), guinea pigs and even a squirrel. It comes with the territory as parents. At least it has in our house when our girls looked at us with those big, pleading eyes asking us to “save him” or “make her better.”
Yes I said squirrel. This was one of our more bizarre animal rescues. He fell out of tree in our backyard after a storm and his mom never came for him. So we took him in. Feed him with a little tiny bottle and nursed the darn thing to health despite the Vet telling us it was futile. Rocky was a real trip. About three weeks after we got him healthy, he jumped out of his box and I discovered him playing with the cat. Actually teasing the cat. He’d run across the floor, scamper up the drapes and wag his tail at the cat who sat looking at him. We tried to let Rocky loose in the back yard, but I’d come home from work and he’d meet me at the door, climb up on the screen door and want in the house. It was nuts. So we eventually took him over to Elmwood park and set him free. I cried all the way home.
The story of the current cats in our household is very telling of the neon signs we must have our foreheads that says “softies” and of our daughters who know how to pull our strings. It started with Mr. Jinx, an absolutely incredible cat that my husband and I got right after we were married. He was a special cat and we adored him. He watched over my kids as they were born. He put up with all their pulling and prodding with a smile and a purr. He was their best friend. He was almost 21 years old when he started having terrible seizures and he ultimately passed away shortly after Thanksgiving almost five years ago. We were heart broken. My husband, who is a big tough guy, even broke down. Jinx was one of the family and we still have his photo (and ashes) on the bookcase.
We all grieved for Jinx, but decided for the girls’ sake that we should get another cat.
Where we find ourselves today started, when my oldest daughter fell in love with a rescued farm cat who was in need. He was a teeny tiny gray tabby when we got him, pretty feral and pretty sick. He could fit in your palm with space left over. After several hundred in vet bills we nursed this scrawny cat, Max, to health. He was definitely her cat. And now weighs in at nearly 16 pounds.
Then, the girls and I, were at the Humane society and I fell in love with this pretty mangy looking orange tabby that was about 6 months old. He came right up to me and jumped in my lap, started purring, and looked at me with these sweet eyes. He reminded me of Jinx. So I couldn’t resist. I brought him home with a bow. He’s everyone’s cat, he doesn’t discriminate. Everyone wants to hang with Baxter and he wants to hang with everyone.
Then a few months later, I discover that my daughter had rescued another sick little kitten and had been hiding it in her room for two days. Mary Jane, a.k.a. Janie (yeah my 17 year old daughter thought the name was pretty funny) was a 4 week old gray fur ball. Several hundred more in vet bills. Now that Janie is grown she thinks she is a princess and has decided I’m her buddy. So I’m the one she follows around, much to my daughter’s chagrin.
Then, the same daughter comes home one night with yet another kitten that she says she found huddled up near the garbage cans near a restaurant she was at with her boyfriend. Again, this was a tiny kitten in need, very sick. Jazz is a calico and spent her first couple days curled up in my husbands lap. More vet visits, more money. Today Jazz still follows Jeff wherever he goes and when he sits down, she wants to be near him.
Those four somehow became permanent members of the household, although that wasn’t the initial plan.
Last winter we had another foster who snuck in our house on his own. Literally. We woke up in the middle of the night to this crying sound. We got up to find out which cat got locked in which room and found “Houdini”. He was an adult gray cat who sort of looked like Janie, but with long hair. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out how he got in the house. The only thing we could think of was that he snuck in through the garage and at a glance we may have thought he was Janie when we let him in. We ran ads, we sent emails, we registered with lost and found at the Humane Society. We tried everything to find his owner. When we took him to the Humane society they told us that if they couldn’t find his owner in a week that he would be euthanized. We’re both too big of softies to let that happen, so we brought him home and started looking for someone willing to take him. Finally after 6 months we found him a great home.
After all that, we thought we were done with the home for wayward animals. That was until 4 weeks ago, when my youngest daughter asked if Elliot, her boyfriend’s new kitten could stay with us for a few days while he moved into a new apartment. Being the softies we are, we said sure. That was 4 weeks ago, and before the new apartment lease fell through. At this point we don’t know what the plan is or how long Elliot will be in the home for wayward animals, but in typical fashion, we’ve become attached to the little cutie.
It’s a little crazy in our house. Always has been. Probably always will be, given our history. But I can’t imagine our home any other way.