I have far more non-food-related news going on in my life right now than new recipes, so I return with a non-recipe post…but only because I am actually planning a recipe post later this week. Several people have asked about the cat situation, particularly since last time I alluded to the fact we had four cats. Which, for a couple of months, we did. So for you cat lovers, here’s a cat-only update. For those of you uninterested in cats, come back soon for some food.
So, back when I was furloughed in October, I was in the sunroom when Gomez and Torticia suddenly sounded an alert: someone was at the back door! Mezzie and Tish race to the door whenever any other living thing shows up outside the sliding glass door: bird, squirrel, raccoon, skunk, fox…you name it. But that day the cause of their excitement was another cat. And not just any cat, this gorgeous fluffy black cat, and she was pressing herself against the door as if she desperately wanted in, although the weather was quite nice out at the time. Gently kicking Mez and Tish out of the way, I opened the door, only to have the kitty run off a few yards. However, to my surprise, when I called to her she came running up to me and let me pet her. In fact, she let me pick her up. I fell for her immediately. I INSTANTLY loved this cat. She rubbed noses with me! I went back inside to get her some food and to call Mark to come look at her. She scarfed down a large can of food like she hadn’t eaten for days and by the time she was done Mark was in love with her too.
It took me several weeks to bring Heidi in when she was living in our yard, but I took this cat up to the animal hospital to be scanned for a microchip within a couple of hours. For one thing, she was a black cat and it was nearing Halloween. For another thing, I loved her and I was secretly hoping no one claimed her. She was negative for a chip and I SWEAR I made a good faith attempt to find her owners, checking in with the animal shelter and Craigslist, etc., but when no one claimed her in a week or so, Mark and I called her a Halloween miracle from the Great Pumpkin and we christened her Wednesday to fit in with Gomez and Torticia (conveniently, I also found her on a Wednesday).
I took Wednesday to our vet and told him we’d adopted a fourth cat. I was convinced he was going to think I was some crazy cat thief because Torticia is a tortie and Gomez is all-black, and the first cat I found in my yard was another tortie, and now the second cat I’d found in the yard was all-black. I mean, what at the chances that the TWO cats that show up in my yard within a few months of each other would be another tortie and another all-black cat?? Both the new cats were like tiny versions of Mezzie and Tortellini! I thought he’d think I was starting a bizarre collection. He insisted he just thought I was a good person to care about strays so much, gave her some shots, and collected some blood to run the standard new-cat tests.
Two days later I sprang to answer his call because Wednesday was going crazy being locked up in a room by herself and I was desperate to get the all-clear to let her mingle with other cats and have full run of the house. Only it wasn’t to be: the test results were positive for feline leukemia. I cried my eyes out when I got off the phone with him, because feline leukemia is pretty much an early death sentence. Unlike feline HIV patients who can often live many years with no symptoms of their disease, most leukemia patients die within 3-5 years. And since it’s contagious to other cats, Wednesday would have to go to a home where she could be the only cat. It’s REALLY hard to find someone who is willing to adopt such a cat. Honestly I don’t know that I would choose to do so. You can’t have any other cats (unless they too are FLV+), you have to live knowing they will very likely have a short life, and you’re probably looking at at lot of vet bills near the end of their life. I thought immediately of my friend Melissa, though, who lost her cat KK the prior year (KK was an orange tabby, like my cat Tigger that those of you who have been reading for years may remember, and like Tigger, KK was from Ocean City, MD: Melissa and I adopted them about the same time when we were in college together) and through my tears sent her an emotional email. I figured she’d probably be mad at me for asking her such a ridiculous question (“Hey, I know you are busy raising three young kids and working but how would you like to adopt a cat that’s going to get sick and die in a few years????”), so when she didn’t respond right away, I totally understood and began the arduous task of reaching out to EVERY cat charity I could find and asking for help. Very few did anything to help me, although I did finally find one place near Charlottesville that has a FLV room and would accept Wednesday if I agreed to sponsor her – essentially donate money monthly towards her vet bills and upkeep – which I kept on reserve as a last resort as I preferred to find her an actual home.
But then it turned out Melissa wasn’t purposely avoiding me because she didn’t want to have to say no to me – she just hadn’t checked her email in a few days. AND she thought she may be feeling called to agree to it! After a lot of research on Melissa’s part and a family vote, Melissa’s family agreed to adopt Wednesday. I was so, so, so, so happy! Because not only was Wednesday going to a great home with someone I trust implicitly, I’d be able to see her whenever I wanted! Plus, I was tired of going to Melissa’s house and not getting to see KK or any other cats. Wednesday has been at Melissa’s for over a month and is adjusting well to her three kids. This story has a happy ending!!
Wednesday is super difficult to take pictures of because she’s so dark and fast: if you level a camera at her, she’s immediately in your face, wanting attention. These are the crappy pictures I took for Melissa while she was still deciding; they do nothing to express the beauty of Wednesday, who is very tiny but very silky, very black, very, very pretty, and super personable.
This picture is absurd, but I wanted to capture her gorgeous tail.
I love this cat. And I love Melissa and her family for adopting her!
Now, another story, which is a little less dramatic, but like the first starts out sad then gets happy: Heidi.
Little Heidi. I told you how I came to adopt her this summer in this post, but unfortunately, during the whole Wednesday debacle it was becoming obvious it just wasn’t going to work out with her. I love Heidi: she’s very sweet and loyal and eager to show me how grateful she is I took her in. Seriously, I can read it in her eyes. The problem is Torticia has HATED Heidi since the day I let Heidi out of quarantine following HER blood test results (which were, thankfully, all negative). Mezzie, on the other hand, was super friendly with Heidi and tried to befriend her. Heidi, however, went on the defensive following Torticia’s rancor and struck out indiscriminately at both cats. After a few months, I don’t know if Mezzie got tired of his friendly overtures being rebuffed or if Torticia finally convinced him to join the dark side, but eventually Mezzie started hassling Heidi as well. With the two of them ganged up on the poor girl, I realized I couldn’t make the relationship work, so I turned to the SPCA, from whom I adopted Mez and Tish. SPCA NOVA is awesome to work with and they responded immediately with help. They posted Heidi on their website and promised to get Heidi into a safe foster home as soon as one was available.
Imagine my surprise when a week later no foster homes had opened up, but two different people wanted to adopt her! I liked both applicants tremendously but of course only one could adopt her. This Saturday morning Heidi will be moving to her new home with a very nice woman who was looking for a quiet, gentle kitty to love after her ex-husband took the cat he entered the relationship with. I feel really good about this. I know Heidi will be much happier in her new home and I think Heidi will be an excellent companion for her.
My sweet girl, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the home you deserve, but I hope you know I’m giving you up so you can have a better life!
AND NOW LOOK AT THESE BULLIES!
Seriously, though, when they aren’t giving me headaches by hassling Heidi, Gomez and Torticia remain the most absolutely wonderful cats ever. And frankly, I’m looking forward to being back down to two cats. Four was too many, especially since there were three distinct “groups” to whom I had to pay separate attention. When I work with the raccoons and the raptors, I have to divide my time up between many animals, and I like that because I am exposed to so many different needs and personalities and I learn a lot. But at home, I really just want two awesome best feline friends with whom I have the strongest relationship possible. And a lot of the time I’m not home. So when I get home, I just want to see their two smiling little faces greeting me and not feel stressed out that I need to spend quality time with half the cat population of Virginia.
Yeah, they LOOK lazy, but they are MEANIE PANTS.
LET’S ALL HOPE NO MORE STRAY CATS TAKE UP RESIDENCE IN MY YARD.
Finally, in non-cat-related news, big excitement on the horizon!! Mark and I are going on safari in Tanzania for our 10th wedding anniversary in October! And Smucky and his girlfriend are going with us! It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done and I am beside myself! I am mentioning it here because, well, it’s pretty much the only thing I think of these days, but also because I’m soliciting advice. Our tour organizer knows we are vegan and has assured me it won’t be a problem, and I’ve actually seen the words “vegan-friendly” on the websites of some of the camps and lodges we’ll be staying in (can you imagine that?! The times we live in!), so I’m not super worried about starving, but I am a little worried about being hungry from time to time. We’ll be on some long drives and I get really, really bad headaches – and turn into a total monster – if I don’t eat when I’m hungry. Usually when I travel long distances, I load up on energy bars for the journey, and usually my destination is a city or at least someplace I can find a bag of chips or something if I’m really desperate. But what do I do when I’m in the Serengeti and there’s no vegan snacks around for miles? Because we will be taking tiny planes from camp to camp in Africa, there is a 12 kg luggage weight limit, most of which I’ll be devoting to camera equipment, and furthermore, we have to use soft-sided luggage like duffle bags. Basically I’m planning to take a very small carry-on bag for my clothes and toiletries – just enough clothes for 3 days or so (laundry service is provided in the camps). I won’t have space for a 2-week supply of energy bars, and besides which, it’ll be hot: a lot of them get melty and gross in the heat. Are there any of you out there who, even if you haven’t been on safari, are maybe avid backpackers and have suggestions for highly portable, filling snacks, or other not-starving-while-traveling tips? So far all I can think of is nuts, but I’m not even sure how much room I’ll have for those…and how I’ll keep Mark from eating all of them on the first day. (That boy loves nuts!)
And now I’m off to make dinner…a dinner that I hope to be able to post as a recipe here.