Sunday, May 3, 2009

Best in Pound

Back when I had two cats, I used to say that my cats were like Sith Lords. There are always two of them, an old one and a young one. When one dies, a new one has to step in and take its place.

So my universe has been out of whack since last January, when Katya, my primary cat, died. That left Hermione, the backup one, to fill the role of both primary and auxiliary cat. It's way too much to ask of one cat, especially a psycho kitty who's spent her entire life playing a supporting role.

After four months of mourning, I'm ready to let a new Sith kitty into my life. So I went to the Humane Society to try to restore balance and order to the universe, and give a cat a home at the same time.

I was determined not to make any decisions on my first visit, but two clear favorites emerged from it. Abandoning my joke about Sith Lords, I decided I wanted an adult cat, about the same age as Hermione (who's six.) That's the age Katya was when I got her, and she turned out to the be the Best Cat Ever. And I thought an adult cat might be able to give Hermy the discipline she needs. Both of the candidates, unfortunately, had fur the same color and texture as Katya. The leading candidate was a petite and adorable female named Baby Girl.

I took her into the "getting acquainted" room, and she was so sweet and affectionate, rubbing up against me and demanding affection, that I almost fell in love with her right there. The problem was that she looked and felt way too much like Katya, and I was afraid she would turn into a replacement kitty. I'd have to call her Katya II (or K2) and that would just be too creepy.

The second candidate was Lloyd, a large male who was also quite affectionate.

He's a sweetheart, but notice they don't show his body in this picture (provided on their website.) That's because he's huge. One advantage to him was that he was declawed, which would work better with Hermione, who is also declawed. (I'm ambivalent on the issue of declawing, and felt terribly guilty when I got Hermy declawed. I did it because Katya was already declawed when I got her, and I thought it wouldn't be fair to leave Hermy with hers.)

For a week I pondered the advantages and disadvantages of Baby Girl vs. Lloyd. I was also trying to think of names for them, since obviously a lame name like Baby Girl would need to be changed. ("Baby Girl" is a description, not a name. That's like calling your son "Male Child.") I wrote out a list of possible names:
  • Katya II
  • Onion
  • Methodius (Methodia for a female)
  • Butters
  • Kitty Buffett
  • Blog
  • Quagmire
  • Admiral Kitty von Sqeezington
  • Dupaws O'lickity Furburger
Although Baby Girl seemed like a better choice, near the end of the week I was leaning toward Lloyd, because he was the greater deviation from my dear dead cat. Plus, he would be harder to find a home for because of his size. One of the many factors I was considering was adoptability. A cat with high adoptability would be likely to find a good home. Baby Girl was so beautiful and affectionate she was sure to get snatched up by someone else. I wasn't so sure about Lloyd, though.

By the end of the week I even had a full name picked out for Sir Lloyd. Since he was about as big as a battleship, I would go with Admiral Lloyd Dobler Roger d'Claude Onion von Kittyburg. The "Lloyd Dobler" is from Say Anything, which I just saw (again) recently and is a classic. A friend on Facebook suggested "d'Claude", which I thought was brilliant. And "Roger" is included because another friend suggested Rafa (Nadal), which made me think of tennis, and because I'm more of a Federer fan, I decided on Roger, which also has cross appeal to American Dad.

So I went to the Humane Society on Saturday all ready to choose the Lloydster and give him his new expanded name. But when I got there, Lloyd had been moved to a new room. It's a lounge room with a couch and scratching posts and cat perchy things where they can roam around freely. Out of his cage, I was able to experience Lloyd in all of his glory. And boy, was he huge. Like, I could hardly pick him up. I'd guess he was about 30 pounds. As much as I hate to admit it, I just don't want that much cat. I mean, a cat this big, I didn't even know if he could jump up on my bed.

While I was hanging out in the cat room, I interacted with some of the others. One black long-haired kitty hid in the corner, but when I called to him, he came out and jumped on my lap. "Oh, you really want a new home!" I said to him. His name was Jinxy:

I hated to add a new candidate to an already crowded field, but I felt Jinxy had earned his way in by sitting on my lap. And black cats are way low on the adoptability scale. I don't know why that is, but it's a fact. People don't choose black cats. (Racism!) Jinxy had been at the shelter longer than any of the others-- since February.

So then I was leaning toward Jinxy, until I went to the back room and visited Baby Girl again. She was in her cage, but kept reaching out her paw to me. "Hey, baby, come here and I'll give you some good lovin!" When I stuck my fingers into my cage she would lick and rub against them. Oh, Baby Girl, you are breaking my heart, I thought.

Then I talked to a lady who volunteers/works at the shelter. Apparently Baby Girl is not always so sweet and loving. Among the shelter workers she has a reputation for being quite difficult. I never would have guessed it, as sweet as she was with me. I guess she's like a girlfriend who sleeps with you on the first date, so you think she's awesome, but then after a few weeks turns into a crazy lady. Since I already have one drama queen cat, I think I'll pass.

I gave Jinxy a few more tests, like a brushing test and a purr test. He passed the first but failed the second. I decided to go home and sleep on it, since it was a pretty big decision. I've never adopted a cat from a shelter before.


I came back on Sunday determined to adopt Jinxy. When I walked into the room, however, Lloyd was the one who ran up to greet me. I sat on the couch and he jumped up on my lap. (So he can at least jump that high.) Oh, Lloyd, you're breaking my heart. I've already decided to get Jinxy!

When I told the lady at the counter I wanted to adopt Jinxy, she gave me an application to fill out. I understand the rationale for making me fill out an application. They don't want to give the cats to just anyone. What if I'm on the Registered Kitty Offenders list? What if I'm running catfights out of my basement? But there was a section on the application that felt a whole lot like push polling. Questions like, "What will you do with your cat when you go on vacation?" and "Do you know that your cat may live 10 to 20 years?" These are certainly good things for people to think about when they adopt a cat. But these "questions" are not really soliciting information, are they?

The hardest question was, "Can you imagine a situation when you would give the cat up?" Hey, I can imagine a lot of stuff. What if I become an invalid? Or homeless? Or nuclear armageddon causes a worldwide famine and I have to eat my cat to stay alive? In those cases, I might not be an ideal cat owner. But they don't really leave that much space on the form to explain all that. So I lie: No, I can't imagine anything.

I thought the questions were so interesting that I wanted to blog about it, so I asked the lady if I could have a copy of the application I filled out. She was very suspicious and said, "We've never had anyone ask for that before." I waved it off and said, "It's not important." I didn't want her to think I was from a rival shelter trying to steal all their secrets.

While I was filling out the application, sitting on the couch in the cat room, a family burst in. A little girl ran toward Lloyd and said, "There's Lloyd! There's our cat!!"

I asked them, "Are you adopting Lloyd?" When they said they were, I was elated. "Oh, that is so great!" I said. "I wanted to get Lloyd, but I didn't think he was right for me. I'm so glad that someone else is giving him a home!" It was almost too good to be true, as if I were in a Hollywood movie. A movie where all the cats get adopted and all the single people end up coupled.

So I gave them my application, and they'll run a background check on me and stuff. If I don't hear anything, I can pick up my new cat on Wednesday. That gives me three days to finalize a name for him.

I'm currently at Roger Jinxy Methodius d'Claude Onioncat. The problem is I hardly ever get a chance to name something, and I have too many great ideas for names. Most of them, however, don't pass the "vet test." When I first found Hermy, as a stray, I wanted to name her Krustybutt. However, when I took her to the vet, I found that I couldn't bring myself to tell the vet I'd named my cat Krustybutt. So I went with Hermione, which sounded much better on a vet file. Her full name is Hermione Krustybutt Psychokitten Kitty.

I haven't decided if the new cat's vet name will be Roger or Jinxy. He came with Jinxy, and I kinda like it, but I have a history of naming cats after hobbies that I'm into at the time. My first cat was named Walter, after Walter Payton. My second cat was Bob, named during my Dylan period in early college. And Hermione got her name during my Harry Potter craze. Roger would certainly be consistent with that trend, since Tennis is my new obsession.

We'll have to see what sticks. These things tend to have a way of working themselves out.


Anonymous said...

Well I'd like to say good luck whichever cat you take home but please please forget the idea of declawing, cats have a right to their claws and just because one little soul has already and sadly had their toes amputated it doesn't mean any further cats should be mutilated for life, clawed and declawed cats can live peacefully together, cats recognise disabiltiy in other cats and act accordingly.

Tim said...


I understand your concern. Fortunately, (or unfortunately) this won't be an issue as Jinxy is already declawed.