A Tale of Two Tails

In Impossibly Fond, Waltham accidentally acquires a cat, which I think is the best way to acquire one—by accident. My partner and I have had two cats, both given to us by Providence.

The first story is sad but touching. My friend Lisa got leukemia as a result of treatment for breast cancer. She had to have a bone marrow transplant, which meant being in the hospital for a solid month. Everyone in her family was either allergic to cats or already had too many, so I agreed to watch Fred for her, and my partner graciously didn’t kick up a fuss about the fact that I’d offered without discussing it with him first.

Fred had never met a human he didn’t love. Within a minute of someone walking in the door, he’d be sitting on their lap demanding pats. We used to joke he’d be a good guard kitty because he would keep any potential burglars trapped until we got home. He wasn’t much trouble to have around, which was a good thing because it turned out that even after Lisa was released from the hospital, she wasn’t allowed to have a cat for a full year.

By the time that year was nearly up—I think she made it to the ten month mark—we were pretty attached to Fred and not looking forward to giving him back, though we could tell he missed Lisa. Sometimes he’d walk around the house meowing into empty rooms, which we were sure was him looking for her. And we knew how much she missed him, so we were resigned to returning him. Then she got lymphoma, which is a form of cancer that preys on people whose immune systems are compromised, and died really quickly and unexpectedly.

Lisa’s parents wrote to say how glad they were Fred had a home, and suddenly we owned a cat instead of just renting one. Not having to let go of Fred was the silver lining to the dark cloud that was the loss of my friend. We enjoyed five years of him butting his head up against our hands demanding to be petted before he too died of lymphoma. This time the silver lining was that we could imagine Lisa and Fred reunited in Heaven being very glad to see each other.

People started asking us almost immediately if we were going to get another cat, and we felt like the answers was yes. But not yet. Fred had been unplanned and very much Fred. He couldn’t be replaced, and we didn’t know how to do it—how to be sure we would love our next cat as much as we’d loved him.

Then one day someone retweeeted a tweet onto my timeline from a stranger who had been taking care of a cat living in his backyard for years. He couldn’t bring it into his own home because he had other cats who didn’t get along with it, but he was hoping to find an indoor home for it. He lived seven hours away, and it was the end of October. I wasn’t sure about driving seven hours each way to pick up a cat when there were obviously plenty of cats looking for homes much closer by, and I certainly couldn’t waste a whole day on cat pickup in November. November meant Nano. So I bookmarked the tweet and promised myself I’d revisit the idea in December.

Well, December eventually came—Nano does end every year, even when it feels like it won’t—and I somehow remembered that bookmarked tweet. The cat was still unadopted and the guy trying to find it a home agreed to meet me halfway, and that’s how Sammy came to live with us. He’s very different from Fred, but there’s no question Providence sent us another winner. He loves living here, and we love having him. Even as I type this, he’s curled up near me, getting one of his twenty hours of sleep for the day.

Waltham’s acquisition of a cat in Impossibly Fond is likewise unplanned but comes out just as good in the end. Maybe all cat adoptions come out good in the end. We do love our furry little friends, don’t we?

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