I’m an animal person—dogs, cats, bird, lizard, fish.
Fred the lizard lived in our house—in a terrarium—but didn’t belong to us. Same with Gilmore the fish. The bird went to live with my grandmother when it lost its feathers due to nerves. The cats used to stare at it. Endlessly.
Which brings me to cats, specifically one cat, Ralph the Rescue.
Ralph’s a chunky Siamese cat with seal point markings. We adopted him from the local animal shelter last year. He was a shy senior about ten years old at the time. When we got him home he ran into the guest bedroom and hid under the bed. Two days later he decided we were okay and joined us in the living room.
His spot is the couch either on a cushion under the window or in a cat bed. He sleeps up there, maybe sixteen to eighteen hours a day. When he’s up he’s eating in the kitchen or staring out the sliding glass door. We live in the high desert so we have cold winters and hot summers. He doesn’t go outside.
Getting to know a rescue is interesting. Ralph was found on the streets and lived in the shelter almost two months. Where did he come from and why didn’t someone miss him? He has good habits. He uses the litter box, he doesn’t jump on tables or counters, and he doesn’t scratch furniture. Someone taught him that.
His annoying habits are those typical of most cats. He’s quite vocal when he wants me to get up in the morning to: a. feed him, and b. turn on the bathroom sink faucet so he can drink. He has a cat fountain and a water bowl, but the faucet has some kind of magnetic attraction. It is his beverage dispenser of choice.
We discovered a couple of other things about Ralph. He will hide if a stranger comes to the door and he is not overly fond of men, even nice ones who like cats. He’ll camp out in the linen closet if the door is left open. And never touch him when he’s sleeping. He has big claws.
We’ve had lots of rescue cats over the years. My kids used to bring them home, sometimes making up stories about how they came to be in our house. Most of the cats—and a few dogs, as well—remained with us until they died of old age. Now my kids, all grown up, are adopting their own strays. My daughter has two cats and a fish. My son has a lab/retriever mix.
Ralph has become an important part of our family. He climbs in my lap if I’m sad and rolls around on the floor with catnip toys when he thinks I need entertainment. When he’s feeling generous, he jumps up next to my husband presenting himself to be petted. But this guy is my cat.
There’s a slogan I hear a lot. Adopt, don’t shop. Lots of shelter pets need homes and if you think you have the time and patience to share your home and your heart with a pet, do it. You won’t be sorry.