January 3, 2010

Life With Lucy

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:25 am by alongcamelucy

After my Christmas Eve miracle in Target where Jeff agreed to let me adopt a cat, I decided it might make sense to wait a bit and get past all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Years. I prayed that I would find the perfect cat, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be so easy. I had several characteristics that I was looking for that I was not willing to compromise on (matters that were carved in stone.)

Since we have recently moved into a new house and have mostly new furniture, Jeff  insisted that we have our new cat be declawed. I did not want a repeat of our adventures with Clarence any more than he did, but there was no way in hell I would do that to an animal. That meant I had to find a cat that was already declawed. I also didn’t want a kitten, preferring to find a cat between 1-3 years old. But absolutely no older than 3. I wanted one that wasn’t a heavy shedder, that was in good health, preferable a male tabby who was very playful.

Since J and I like to eat out and  run around a lot, I also needed a cat that would be independent and not mind being home alone. I also didn’t want a very vocal cat – I had one before and they can just drive you nuts yelling at you all the time. I was REALLY hoping to find a cat with a complete history, like maybe from Craigslist.org where I would be able to talk to his owner so that I would know what food he ate and what toys he liked best, that sorta thing. I knew after all of these years of not owning a cat I would be out of the practice of being able to  “reading” what the cat needed or liked.

Lets recap here, our perfect cat should be:
1. Declawed
2. Between 1-3 years old
3. Is not a heavy shedder.
4. In relatively  good health
5. Male
6. Tabby
7. Playful
8. Independent
9. Quite
10. With a complete history

One out of ten ain’t so bad I guess. Lucy is declawed.

Venice has a no kill cat shelter and every time we pass by I say “Jeff they have cats in there” just to remind him I wanted one. I had never been inside though and with good reason. When I was 7 or 8 the school took us to the Animal Shelter, where they showed us all the dogs and cats kept in rows and rows of dirty cages stacked 3 high. They explained to us that if they were not adopted in a X number of days they would be put to sleep. I could literally feel the terror and sadness coming from the cages. I was terribly traumatized by the whole ordeal even to this very day 30 years later. I have not been into a shelter of any kind since that day.

Just on a whim after lunch one day J pulled up the this shelter and said he would just run in and look and see what they had. Excited by the idea of finally starting the process of looking for a cat, willing to risk 30 more years of emotional trauma, I jumped out and said I would go in with him.

OMG! This place was NOTHING like my childhood experience. It was some sorta kitty heaven. These cats have it made. I bet there were close to 100 cats in this place. Room after room. Every cat toy ever invented, shelves and boxes high and low for them to play in, all kinds of people flooding in to pet them. They were all so happy. And unlike other shelter animals they seem to careless rather you wanted to adopt them or not. They were all just so fat, happy and content.

Lucy was the first cat I saw when I walked in, she let out a very loud meow that sounds just like she is saying the word “Hi.” She was also kinda gross. Her coat was all nasty and she had dandruff. I am not talking about the word kitty dander that all domestic cats have. I am saying nasty flaky white chunks of groody dandruff like that creepy man that never takes a bath would have.

Remember that characters from The Charlie Brown comics called Pig Pen? He always had a cloud of dirty around him. Lucy is like that. A cloud of dirty, fluffy, dandruff-infused hair seems to be floating in the air all around her. I skipped right on by her.

J found the nearest chair and tried to hide his disdain for all things cat, while surrounded in a sea kittens of all ages playing in their rumpus room. Lucy yelled at him a few more times saying “HI”, then plopped her blubbery fat self down right at his feet demanded his attention. She stayed right there with him whole time, while I petted, cuddled and played with every single other cat in the whole place.

I asked each cat if they were my cat. Not one of them thought so and after an hour or so I was ready to leave, confident that my cat was to be found on crigslist after all. Which was all well and good since I did not own a single thing for the cat yet. In the mean time J had stepped outside to take a phone call. While I waited on him to end his call I sat down in the chair he had been sitting in and Lucy yelled at me to pick her up. I was sorta grossed out by her, the fuzzy air around her made my nose itch and my skin crawl so really didn’t want to, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings either. As soon as I picked her up she told me she was mine. Jeff walked in saw me holding her and started raving about how wonderful she was. With no thought about it at all, knowing nothing whatsoever about her I blurted out that she was ours and we would take her.

My heart sank when the shelter owner read me her intake report. She was 9 years old. 6 years past my absolute, carved in stone,cut off age of 3 years old. I had never even been around an elderly cat before much less owned one. She had been rescued from a shelter up state the authorities had shut down due to inhumane conditions. They didn’t even know her real name, they just dubbed her Lucy when she got to our local shelter 12 days before. All they knew for sure was the conditions the cat had been living in were real bad.

Since I was completely unprepared to take home a cat that day I left her at the shelter while J and I ran and picked up all the supplies we would need for her immediate needs. Litter, pan, food, toys and a kitty fort to hide in. We were gone about an hour or so, when we come back into the door Lucy screamed out a very loud “HHHHHIIIIIIII” that everyone heard. The attendance said she sat right by the door like she knew we were coming back for her. I scooped her up and she went into her pet taxi as happily as a kid on a trip to Disney World. While all of the other cats in this shelter seemed to enjoyed the fun and camaraderie, Lucy clearly liked her peace and quite and was ready to get out of there.

She is not in the best of shape. Lucy is morbidly obese. 14 pounds of blubbery fat. After I got her home I found out that she has a hard time walking more than a few feet at a time and often stops while trying to get from point A to point B. She has a terrible skin condition that is causing her dry flaky skin. She seems to have a tumor of some sort on her belly. She clearly has arthritis. She also seems to have a thyroid goiter. Because of those ailments she can no longer groom past her two front legs. Although she does often groom what she can reach. Jeff ran out and got two grooming brushes and the FURminator  (omg if you have a pet you must get this tool!) While I was brushing her she slowly lift her leg to show me her back side. She also can’t clean herself back there. Between her weight and her arthritis she can’t reach. I felt like she was terribly embarrassed by her lack of hygiene. It is not a matter of her not caring or not wanting to take care of herself, she simply can’t do it anymore. By then I had bonded enough with her to get that she really hates being dirty. She is very regal and stately.

After she showed us her issues, Jeff ran back out picked us up some things that are like baby whips but for cats. We will take her to the groomers on Monday and let them bathe her and maybe shave her backside to make it easier for me to clean her after she uses the potty. Jeff also bought her a great set of stairs so that she can get on and off the bed by herself and every cat toy in the store.

I have spent 24/7 with her since she got here. I pick her up and take her with me from room to room. She naps in the bed that is right beside my computer and sleeps with me. She does not like to be alone. She is most content if J and I are in the same room with her, both touching her. If you leave her even for a second and come back she yells out “HI” as plain as day several times until you come give her a cuddle (I will post a video of this soon.) I have spent hours every day brushing and loving on her. Already her coat is looking more healthy. I carry her to the potty and wipe her backside, I feed her and, talk to her and sing to her, but she thinks she is Jeff’s cat, and clearly likes him best. It is beyond adorable. Watching him love on her melts my heart. Every time he walks into the room she gets so excited to see him. She won’t play with anything, no matter how enticing it is. She seems to be immune to cat nip, balls, fake snakes and bird feathers on a bungee cord. She does not want to play in a box or do anything that is even remotely cat like. NOTHING. Other than her none stop purring, there is nothing in her personality that suggest she is a cat at all. She is a queen trapped in the body of an obese cat.

She is sweet beyond words. When you are brushing her, which I have spent hours every day doing, she will turn from side to side so you can groom all sides evenly. If you do something she does not want you to, like touch her paws she will simply get up and walk away from you with no fan fair. She never fusses or demands her own way. Her only request all this time was that I move my Ipod docking station from my end table so that she can lay there. Most normal cats would have just knocked it off themselves. She has the disposition of a Buddhist Monk on valium. She is elegant, refined and very dignified. She will turn her nose up to any silliness or acts of play.

Before we take her to the groomers Monday we will take her to the vet figure out a course of treatment to getting her into better shape. I am sure that once her thyroid and pain issues are managed and after she is put on a diet and supplements she will have a very long and happy life ahead of her. I don’t care if she has 5 months or 15 years left, they will be the best years any cat in the history of the world has ever had. She will be spoiled, loved, pampered and adored.

I do love her so very much. More than I ever thought possible. She was very much worth the wait!
Regal Kitty

Grungy Kitty

Adorable Floofy Kitty

“Mom Please move that clock, I need to sleep there”

“Much Better, Thanks”

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January 2, 2010

So what had happen was….

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 am by alongcamelucy

“I want a cat!”

“I neeeeeeeeed a cat!”

“PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME HAVE CAT?!”

“All I want for my birthday is a cat”

“Can I have a cat?”

“For Christmas I think you should get me a cat”

“If you don’t get me a cat, I think I am just going to die!”

Phrases such as those have been a prevalent part of my vocabulary for the last 17 years. I always had a cats growing up. Life without a cat seems unnatural to me. A cat in the house seems unnatural to my husband. He told me this in the brief intern after we met but before we started dating. I was so smitten with him that the impact of his words went right over my head.

That is how I accidentally ended up married to a “no pets in the house” guy. My husband Jeff is a wonderful man. He is kind, handsome, generous, sweet and funny. In the last 16 years, my want, no my need for a cat never wavered except for a very brief 2 weeks in 1997, where I was able to bring a stray cross-eyed Burmese into my apartment. I literally opened the door one morning and there he was, waiting for me to let him in.

In an apartment complex with nearly 100 different apartment units to pick from, he had chosen my doorstep. As soon as I opened the door, he just walked right in like he owned the place and I loved him from the second I laid eyes on him.

I named him Clarence.

A few months before Clarence showed up on my door step, Jeff bought me a new living room suite with a leather sofa. Jeff and I both loved that sofa. So did Clarence. Clarence showed his love by kneading the sofa with his nails and big meaty paws and using it as a scathing post. With in a week he had ripped the side of the sofa into shreds. Jeff once again insisted no inside pets and said it was him or the cat. The apartment manager also reminded me that our lease had a very strict no-pets policy and it was the cat or the apartment.

I found Clarence a wonderful forever home with a lady who lived in the neighborhood behind us. She already had 3 special need animals , one of which was a cat born without both eyes, her whole life and home were dedicated to pampering her pets. Just like me she fell in love with Clarence the second she met him and they lived happily ever after.

Clarence set the tone for pet ownership the next 16 years of our marriage. No inside pets, not ever, no way, no how, no discussion. If I pushed the issue to much Jeff would always bring up the destruction of the brand new sofa, followed by a lot of “I told you so’s”. And as he often pointed out, he had made his stance on indoor pet ownership perfectly clear before we ever started dating.

Over the years Jeff did try to offer up comprises. I could have a pet as long as it was an outdoor pet. Humph! There was no way I would leave my pet outside and going through all the trouble of finding a pet then kicking it out of the house, didn’t mean you owned a pet,it made another stray animal roaming around outside!

He let me get a fish. A gold fish named Erin. I ended up spending a few hundred dollars on a tank, rocks and supplies for her at a time when we really did not have a lot of cash to spare. Erin was the most spoiled (and loved) goldfish in the world. I think she lived for close to two years. She loved me as much as I loved her. She would come to the edge of the tank and blow kisses at me every time I walked by her. When she died I was so heart broken that my step father built her a coffin and a cross grave maker and him and my mother helped me organize and attend a funeral for her. Jeff decided that I was clearly not emotionally stable enough to have pets and from there on out No Pet rule was strictly enforced.

No pets, not even fish or a cockroach were allowed. After we moved to FL I had an abundance of lizards and birds in my yard and I pretended they were my pets, but I still want a cat and still “I neeeeeeeeed a cat!”

On December 23, 2009 Jeff and I were driving back from Tampa after attending a party at his mothers house. We stopped off at a service station very close to our house and as soon as I opened my car door I saw a kitty, clearly a Russian Blue, hiding under the car in the parking lot beside ours. I was so excited that I got down on my knees in my party clothes in a parking lot, looking perfectly undignified and goofy to try and pet her but she wouldn’t let me. The service station attendant said that he had been feeding her for a long time, but that she would not come near him, she was wild. He had been trying to gain her trust because he really wanted to keep her himself.

After we got back in the car I just broke down crying. One of those soul sapping cries that well up from the center of your whole being. 16 years of wanting something so bad just flooded out. I am sure Jeff was just as shocked as I was, he said he was sorry and once again ran down the laundry list of reasons having a pet was a bad idea.

Then out of the blue, on Christmas Eve, while standing in line at a Starbucks in Target, Jeff turned around very nonchalantly and said “You can have a cat.” And I started crying again in the line at a Starbucks inside Target.

Meet Lucy