Merton was perhaps the most adoptable of any of our foster cats. He was so handsome! He was rescued from the streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, at six months old, but for some reason he was not really feral. He was easy to socialize just by playing with him. We fully intended to get him a new home, but every time we got him ready to take to an adoption event, he would wrap his tail tight around his body, give us that “what?” look, so we just didn’t go. Merton was a character. Long-haired with a big-jowled face, he weighed nearly twenty pounds and liked to sit on the back of our chairs while we were watching movies. Sometimes that meant he sat on a guest’s head; nobody ever seemed to mind.
Tara, an all-black cat, and Boots, a tuxedo, came to us at the same time. Neither could be touched, and Boots would try to bite you. They lived in the cat playpens for months while we tried to convince them that we could be trusted. Tara accepted her new situation quite readily, and we thought we could get her adopted easily. After all, she would sit in one of our laps and purr. But Tara had other ideas. Every time someone was due to meet her, she disappeared. We had lots of black bookcases, and she’d hide someplace in one where we just didn’t see her. After the fifth time this happened, we decided hiding was Tara’s way of telling us she wanted to live with us.
Boots was a harder case. She was with us for fourteen years, and we were never able to pick her up. Taking her to the vet required a long chase, many threatening hisses, and finally covering her with a towel so we could put her in a carrier. Yet Boots seemed in all other ways to be very happy. She liked other cats, and by the time she came to live with us, there were plenty of feline companions for her.
Our cats have reminded us that not only are they signs of Spirit in our lives, they are not under our control.
Boots’s favorite was Clare, a Maine Coon cat with a very nurturing nature. All the cats got along with Clare, and much to Lalla’s dismay, she was really the top cat in the household. Boots followed her around and snuggled into her lap to nap. After Clare died, Boots kept looking for her. That relationship taught us a lot about how animals can bond with each other. We respected Boots’s solitariness and admired her deep relationship with Clare.
Nur also benefited from Clare’s ministrations. She came to us having been rescued from the streets of Newark where she was either abused or had suffered a bad fall as a kitten. As a result, she had seizures all her life.
We gave her herbs, which mitigated the seizures for years, and then drugs. But it was Clare who groomed her and comforted her. Nur had a funny run; she crossed her front paws in front of each other and kicked out her back ones like a rabbit. When she galloped down the whole length of the loft, she made quite a racket. But she also proved to us that even with a disability, a cat can have a wonderful life.
If you’ve been keeping track, you will have counted eight cats in the loft at the same time. There were two more, for a total of ten.