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161 Posts
As posted in my intro, I'm de-packratting the house, to get ready to be
ruled by a pair of shelter cats.

The adoption process includes a "match a cat with a person" session.
I thought it'd help to bring stories about the cats in my life to the shelter.

This story makes it clear that I knew nothing about cats or how to care
for them.

Six months after we were married, my wife and I decided we wanted
to include cats in our family. I'd just taken a job in a Maryland
suburb of Washington DC; she was finishing a degree in the Chicago
area. On her spring break, we'd found an apartment in a pet-friendly
building. We were both enchanted by Siamese.

We wanted to furnish the place after she moved, so I got just the bare
necessities: a mattress and bed frame, a card table and chair, and a few
cooking and eating utensils.

An ad in a local paper resulted in my buying two pedigreed Siamese
from a man in suburban Virginia. They were about two years old.
I didn't know about cat carriers. The seller gave me a box with some
padding in it. We put cats and box in the car's back seat.

It was early summer in DC, hot and humid. To get from Virginia to
Maryland in the 1960s, you had to cross over one or more rivers on
bridges. There was no beltway then.

My car had bench seats but no air conditioning. I was in DC rush
hour traffic, the windows cracked open so we wouldn't faint from
the heat, and the cats free in the car.

One cat paced back and forth on the seat backs behind my head.
The other (I'm not making this up) was lying under the gas pedal,
somehow avoiding getting scrunched.

The trip took forever, and I can't recall how I got them into the
apartment. Maybe they were good enough to stay in the box.

I'd bought what I thought would help them adjust to their new
home: an alarm clock to put in their box (the ticking was supposed
to reassure them), a ball to play with (much too big), and the usual
feeding and toilet articles.

I thought they'd play with each other and wouldn't get lonesome
while I was at work all day. WRONG! The moment I walked in
the door, they were all over me. I couldn't do anything without my
two "assistants" participating.

But bedtime was the best: when I got into bed, I found myself
looking into two pair of blue eyes staring back, and at least five
pounds of cat on my chest. I think they finally went to sleep in
their box.

Genius that I was, I didn't realize that the cats needed to scratch
on something. They needed a scratching post. The only place
they had was the mattress. So it was getting clawed constantly.
I went to a local pet store and bought a spray that the cats weren't
supposed to like, to spray on the mattress.

They ignored it, and I broke out in hives. That was the clincher.

I found an adoption agency in the local paper, and took the cats
there. If I'd done my homework, that needn't have happened.

49 Posts
Very well written. You put in an honest effort, especially for the '60s. What I wouldn't give for a do-over on some issues with cats I've had! I can't wait for part 2 of this story. I wish you the best of luck with your adoptions. I just adopted a pair of rescue shelter cats, an 8 month old followed six days later by a 4 month old. They're very energetic, as you can imagine. I could almost hear the campaign corks popping in the shelter as I put the four month old in the car. harv, if you're adopting cats close to this age range, I can suggest getting a whip and a chair!

161 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks, Robert. I've had a little experience with younger cats, and I'm hoping to adopt two that are a year old or older. The whip and chair sound like a good idea for the young ones.

Part two will be coming later today. There actually are three parts, now that I think of it.

I was a math major in school, but still have trouble with small integers. ;-)

161 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
My past cat-owned experiences: story 2 of 3 (LONG)

Our little family had moved to suburban Philadelphia
(Cherry Hill, New Jersey) where I had a job with RCA.

Our son, born in DC, was about two when we decided
to try adopting a cat again. We were still Siamese fans.

We visited the local animal shelter. There, perched on
a room space heater about ten feet off the floor, was
what looked like a Siamese cat. She seemed to be

Once the shelter folks somehow got her down off the
heater (I can't recall how), she turned out to be a cross:
Siamese-Burmese. She had the heavier body of the
Burmese, but Siamese markings--seal point nose and
mask, ears, tail, paws, nose leather and paw pads. But
she had the Siamese faults--kinked tail and crossed
eyes. And she had four white feet, so we named her
Mittens. Love at first sight.

This time, we'd done our homework: carrier, basket,
dishes, toys, pan, etc. Getting her home and adjusted
is another blank--this was over 50 years ago.

Mittens retained another Siamese attribute--the voice.
It has been described by some as "torturing a baby."
There was no doubt whatsoever when she wanted
something or was unhappy. In the carrier, on the way
to the vet, she sang a cat opera--a tragedy.

She was certifiably crazy--a real clown. Here's one
example that I'll remember forever. In the small house
we rented, a poorly-added room left a noticeable gap
where the walls joined. The owner concealed the flaw
with a floor-to-ceiling framed carpet fragment--with
painted footprints as decoration. (This was the 1960s,

The framed carpet was about two feet from the foot of
our bed. The head of the bed was against a large window,
covered by heavy drapes.

Around 2 AM, with appalling regularity, Mittens would
run the length of the room and climb the framed carpet.
She would drop from the carpet onto the foot of our bed,
race from the foot to the head, then climb the drapes,
drop back onto the bed, and scamper away.

I believe that even someone who was heavily drugged
could not sleep through those acrobatics. We weren't
and didn't.

Mittens lived with us for about seventeen years. In her
old age, she developed kidney and eyesight problems.
She was in pain, and finally had to be put to sleep. She
was a delight and the house seemed empty without her.

My wife developed an allergy to cats, so that quashed
any hope of getting another cat. I talked to an allergist
and researched breeds that were said to be better for
people with allergies. We didn't find a good solution,
so I've been without a cat in my life since 1984.

That's not strictly true, though, since I've made friends
with three cats who live with my masseuse. They're the
subject of the next story.

161 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, Pixall. Sounds like you have your hands full!

I said I have trouble with small integers. Yes, there are four stories. One will be ongoing.

49 Posts
Thanks for posting, harv. A post is only long if it's poorly written, hard to read, too wordy or poorly organized in one giant paragraph. Your post is the opposite of all that. It's an interesting story, funny, easy to read and leaves me wanting more!

Sure hope you find the right pair of kitties. If adopting both at the same time, an already bonded pair might work out well . If adopting at different times, learn the shelter jargon in the cat's descriptions. Often what is not mentioned is important. Talk to the staff. Go for temperament and personality first.

161 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for your kind words, Robert. I guess my former life as a tech writer has some lasting value.

Re the potential adoptees: I agree with all your points. I hope to find an already bonded pair. The staff will get lots of questions, and I'll be looking for the "personality kids." :p

161 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
My past cat-friended experiences-story 3 of 4 (LONG)

My friendships with my current massage therapist's cats began after
March 2009. That's when my previous massage therapist decided to
marry an old flame and move to Vienna. I'm lucky to get two massages
a week: Monday and Thursday. But now I was down to one.

Between exercise, arthritis, and general aches and pains, I really
needed a second therapist.

I auditioned therapists. A friend of the Vienna-bound one
wasn't a good match. The Monday person suggested a friend
who could work on me on Thursday. The friend had filled in
when the Monday therapist was on call for a birth. (My Monday
therapist is also a doula. Look it up.) So I'd worked with her
friend before.

The friend (let's call her CatMom, for reasons that will become
obvious) not only gave me a great massage, but as a bonus,
she was owned by two cats, both in their late teens. After my
long dry spell, being around two cats was a treat.

Merlin, the male, had a tough life before coming to live with
CatMom. He was found as a feral kitten/young cat by his previous
owners. That's why we don't know his exact age, or his breed.
He's a lovely blue-grey color, with very striking aqua-green eyes.
People often comment on his beautiful coloring... if they catch a
glimpse of him. He has very faint tabby stripes, on his tail in
particular. Also, there is a "new" specialized breed of cat called
the Napoleon, which is known for having short legs. Merlin has
short legs too--perhaps there's a connection.

Merlin is shy, wary, and seems to have difficulty focusing.
He's about 13 now. CatMom got him in 2003.

Kira, the female, had the opposite disposition: there was nothing
shy about her. CatMom raised her from a kitten. She was the prima
donna of the household. She lorded it (or empressed it?) over
Merlin. First to the food bowl, first to the prime sleeping spot--
you get the idea.

Kira's coloring was similar to to a classic tabby, although she had
darker (less distinct) stripes and a lot more orange. CatMom used
to say that she looked like they started out to make a calico, but
then changed their mind and painted tabby stripes over her orange
calico patches. Her stepmom thinks she had the calico type of
personality. They're known for being outgoing, very affectionate,
and a little bossy. Her coloring didn't change as she got older.

Kira and I hit it off at once. She came over while I was sitting
on the stairs, removing my shoes. I held out my hand. She checked
me out and approved. After some time, and with growing familiarity,
if I'd sit on the sofa, she'd jump up and sit in my lap, demanding
to be petted.

Merlin took longer to warm up to me. After two years, he still stands
just out of reach to be petted. But eventually, he sits next to me on
the stairs and purrs at the attention.

The two cats learned when I was to arrive. When I walked in the
door, Kira was right there, meowing at me. I couldn't get my coat
off fast enough for her. She demanded attention that instant--a
true diva.

After a philosophical disagreement with my Monday therapist,
I changed my schedule so that I worked with her only once a month.
The other Mondays and Thursdays, I got "cat therapy" as a bonus
with my massages.

Sadly, Kira died a month shy of her 14th birthday. CatMom took it hard,
and I was surprised at how sad I was. After all, she was someone else's cat,
who I visited for twenty minutes twice a week. How could it be that I'd
grown so fond of her? However such things happen, Kira had worked her
way into my heart. I still miss her.

Some six months after Kira died, CatMom got a request to adopt a
kitten. Her stepmom's to-be-spayed cat was already pregnant, and they
had all the cats they could handle--their three plus the mom-to-be.
CatMom wasn't ready yet for another cat, but this was an emergency.

CatMom's nine-year-old daughter picked the kitten from the litter
and named him Arthur. Whatever you're thinking, this isn't a replay
of the Once and Future King.

CatMom took Arthur home three months later. He was three months old.
I've watched him grow--and has he ever! At nearly ten months old, he's
almost as big as Merlin, who's a good-sized cat.

Arthur is a classic shorthaired tabby. He has very distinct stripes and is
definitely orange. He's wide-eyed and fearless, and everything's a toy
to him. He's learned that he can sit in my lap on the stairs and be petted.
Then he lies on a step under me on his back and attacks my fingers.
That ends the petting. As I climb the stairs to the massage room, he'll
bat at my hand on the bannister. I have the scratches to prove it.

As CatMom has said, a few things Arthur does reminds us of Kira--
in particular, his tendency to take over. Poor Merlin is second fiddle
once again.

Needless to say, I look forward to my bonus "cat therapy" sessions
twice a week. And I think the cats do too.

Editorial note: This story should more properly be called "My present
cat-friended experiences". It's ongoing. And as some of you have
pointed out, the fourth story will be about my adopting two cats of
my own. Hence this story is numbered 3 of 4. ("Silly integers"!)

I appreciate your comments.

317 Posts
You have captured my attention and I can't wait for the next (ongoing) part

161 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
But what about part 4? I'm ready! As soon as you get your new shelter cats it will be here yes? :p
Heh, heh... I'm ready too. But with all the prep work I have to do,
and the questions I need answered, it'll be (I'm guessing) three to
six months before I'll be off to the shelter.

You have no idea what shape this place is in. We've just pulled
up some 40-year-old shag carpet on the stairs and second floor
landing. Underneath is some gorgeous oak flooring.

(Yes, the people we bought from were idiots.) Also underneath
the carpet was/is 40-year-old carpet padding, adhesive, and
nails. Somehow it's got to be removed, without wrecking the
wood underneath.

That's for starters. Add the 40-odd years of my wife's packratting,
furniture I want to get rid of, and a few things I've forgotten.

We're not talking tomorrow here.

317 Posts
It's understandable. Don't worry too much! You'll be a fine cat owner I'm sure of it :D You had that one for years (the crazy one) and things went fine with her!
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