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Posts Tagged ‘older cats’

Pumpkin can be one tough customer. Cats tend to have a lot more rules than dogs to begin with, but Pumpkin has serious rules, especially regarding where you can touch him. And sometimes even when.

He belongs to the people next door, and is an indoor/outdoor cat. At night, he’s in their garage with his bed, food, water, litter. Days, he’s out. Let me state first that he has me totally wrapped around his paw. And that’s OK by me. I put food out on my back porch during the day and when he’s let out of the garage, he gets breakfast, and later in the day, a snack or lunch.  He can be very affectionate at times. He likes attention … until he doesn’t. And I have become finely attuned to that subtlety.

When he was younger and feeling his best, he ruled the neighborhood. Roamed about making sure any other cats knew who was king. I call him “The Mayor.” But he’s now 12 or 13, and stiff in the joints from age and a run-in a couple years ago with some kind of moving vehicle. He recovered with a limp and just kept on going because he’s that kind of cat. Now, however, we have some new cats in the neighborhood – they’re younger, bigger, and pushy. I have some concerns about Punkie because he still thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips, and I’m not so sure that’s true.

On occasion, I hear that loud rowwwwwr sound we know cats make when one is challenging another. Because I work from home, I can usually hop outside and chase the intruder away, if Pumpkin hasn’t already. The other night was one of those times.

It was nearly 7 pm, dark, very cold, with winds about 25 mph. The people next door hadn’t gotten home yet to put him in, but I expected they would be soon. I was reading when I heard that keening sound. I jumped up, put on the back porch light, and headed down my driveway to the street. There they were, three of them, like points on a triangle – Pumpkin, Yellow from across the street, and the tuxedo newcomer who’s been pushing up on Pumpkin lately.

“What’s going on here?” I yelled in my most taking-no-nonsense voice.

They turned and briefly looked at me, but not moving an inch or taking their eyes off one another for more than two seconds.

“You!” I shouted to the tuxedo. “Get going!” He knows I mean business, and ran down the street.

“You, too, Yellow!”

Yellow just stared at me.

I took a few steps into the road and yelled again, “I mean it!” And he ran back to his house.

I turned and started towards my back porch. “C’mon, Pumpkin, let’s get you fed and safe and inside for the night.”

Still puffed to twice his size in fight-ready mode, tail held high, he looked at me as we walked. “I sure showed them,” he said with a satisfied sort of look on his face.

“Yeah, tough guy, you sure did.”

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What does one do when she finds herself animal-less? She adopts! Meet Jazzy … in a possibly overdone Christmas-Photoshopped shot. But who doesn’t love a kitty in a carton, one’s own little boxtot?

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For those of you who have a genuine love of animals, you know the invisible, gaping hole that opens in your home when a pet passes away. Imagine having lost all your animals, and if you know me, or follow this blog, you may know that was the case after Claude passed over. It doesn’t matter if you have two or twenty humans living in your home, when there is not one animal to be heard, the silence is deafening.

It only took three days before I contacted the local cat rescue to see if a black cat named Jazzy was still available for adoption. I had met her in the nearby pet store who generously showcases cats and kittens from two local rescue organizations to give them an extra chance to find a home. It was after Gypsy Rose passed away, and I wondered if Claude would like another companion. Jazzy was sweet and affectionate and did a great job of selling herself, but ultimately, I decided against adopting any other animals at the time, letting the aging Claude have me just to himself.

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But without any animal in the house at all, that was another story. My rescue contact told me not only was the three year old beauty still waiting, but no one had even shown any interest in her. (Unfortunately, people still have bizarre superstitions about black cats and therefore, they have the hardest time finding homes.) I have no such preconceptions, and after an interview with the rescue, a brief meet and greet with both her and Jazzy at the pet store, we agreed to all meet at our mutual vet for an introduction and a nail clip for Jazzy. She’s been here ever since.

Adopting an older animal is a bit more of a challenge in some ways than adopting a youngster. Jazzy has her own personality and her own ideas about everything. And that’s OK – so do I. She’s bright, a fast learner and it’s not hard to come to understandings about anything. Most importantly, older animals need a chance. Everyone wants to adopt the kittens. I wanted to give that chance to a cat who really needed it. And so … the curious cat in the box.

My challenge now? Taking the most fabulous photograph of an all black animal, the ever-so-elegant Jazzy.

Your challenge? The next time you have that awful, gaping hole in your home because a beloved pet has passed away, or whenever you’re next ready to add a new fuzzy family member … adopt. Visit your local shelter, contact your local rescue, check Petfinder …  adopt an animal who truly needs YOU. And please consider those most in need … an older/adult animal. It’s a special gift to you both.

Merry Christmas!

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In Memory … Gypsy Rose

July 1999 – April 6, 2013
Rescued from Weequahic Park, Newark, NJ – January 2000

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Gypsy Rose was a 6 month-old kitten when I (literally) grabbed her from a parking area in Weequahic Park on my way to work. She was with her mother, and it is likely the two were living in the Gypsy-6Months2cemetery on the other side of the wrought iron fence just a few feet away. I was unable to get the more street-wise mother, but brought this little tyke into my car. I buried my head under my arms against the steering wheel, while the kitten ricocheted all over my car. When she finally settled at the rear window, I drove the rest of the way to the shelter where I worked and where she would get a chance at a real home.

Gypsy’s “baby” picture … 6 months old in the shelter, waiting for love.

She was written up in the system, and placed in a cage in the area just inside the front entrance – prime real estate for adoption. There was a multitude of reasons why bringing another animal into my home at that exact time was a very poor idea, and since Gypsy Rose was cute as a button and only 6 months old, I was sure it was only a matter of time  before someone would fall in love and adopt her.

But there she sat. After six months and no one expressing an interest in her, among other reasons, I knew she was meant to be mine, and the rest is history. Soon after walking into my home, Gypsy decided she should run the place thus earning herself the name of Miss Bossy Boots. All went well for this petite Queen of Everything until about October 2011, when she experienced seizure-like activity and was put on medication to reduce swelling from a possible tumor or cancer in her brain. This event repeated itself in June of 2012 when we tried to wean her off the medication.

Still, Gypsy forged on, unfazed by some growing malignancy within. In the last few months, however, Gypsy began a slow downward and irreversible decline. In the last few weeks,  I watched her behaviors change, isolating herself more, eating less and less, rallying occasionally, until it became clear her time had come. She left peacefully in my arms, loved `til the end.

Farewell, Gypsy girl … you will always be home in my heart.

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