It’s funny how strongly some memories stay in your mind.
It was a little over 8 years ago, Summer 2001. I was getting ready to go back up to Gainesville for what would end up being a very trying semester. Summer 2001 was still a time of innocence. So much has changed since then.
My mom and I were out shopping. I found some cute dresses on sale at Gap but they were not in my size. We decided the sale was good enough that it was worth driving across town to a different mall to find the dresses. We ended up at University Mall which is up near USF. We found the dresses and were getting ready to leave when I saw the mall pet store.
Now we don’t usually go into pet stores. They make my mom sad and me too for that matter– all those animals who need homes. I don’t know what made us go in there that day. Pet stores don’t usually have cats and we’re total cat people. I walked by the cages and I saw one that was empty, or at least it appeared empty at first. As I was standing there, I glanced into the covered litter box and as I did, a dusty gray cat turned his head around to look me in the eyes. He had the most stunning blue eyes I have ever seen on a cat. He was shockingly beautiful and sad. He was sleeping in a litter box. My mom was every bit as taken aback by his beauty as I was.
I’m not sure what made us ask but we found a woman who worked at the store. His price? $900. This mall remember, is only a couple miles from the university. It is otherwise in a very poor section of town. Not an audience for a $900 cat. The woman scooped him out of the cage. He was huge, or at least, not kitten sized. The woman told us he was 5 months old and because of his age his price had been reduced to $500.
But that was enough. We had to go. $500 for a cat? It was too much. We thanked the woman and left.
But he certainly didn’t leave our minds. Though we said little about him in the following days I couldn’t help but think about the blue eyed cat who’d spent the last 3 months of his life sleeping in a litter box (and as we came to find out later, the first 2 months in a kitty mill).
Over the next couple of weeks he was mentioned here and there, the gorgeous cat at the pet store. A ragdoll. We’d never heard of ragdolls before. I did a little bit of reading on the breed. They are naturally big, that’s why he was so huge already. People wanted tiny kittens, not cats that already looked full grown. Would he ever be adopted?
One Sunday morning after church my mom said, “I can’t stop thinking about that poor kitty.” As it turns out, the government had just recently sent out stimulus checks. Wouldn’t you know ours was for $500. It seemed to be a pretty certain sign. Without another word the decision was made. The only question now was would he still be there. We raced home and called the store?
“Do you still have the ragdoll?”
“We’re on our way.”
As I recall we drove across town pretty quietly. I think we all felt a sense of urgency. Now that we’d decided to get him, what if someone else decided the same and got to him before us? What if after all the time spent in that cage, two people came for him at once.
We burst into the store, our rescue mission nearly complete. I quickly found the woman who we’d spoken to before.
“We’re here for the ragdoll.”
She paused for a moment, with a look of surprise and alarm and then walked over to the cage and gently removed him from the litter box where I guessed he’d spent most of the time since our last visit. She had tears in her eyes. She had become very attached to him but of course realized that he needed a real home.
I remember very little of the purchase process, I just knew how happy and relieved we all were that he was still there and that he was finally coming home.
Dusty didn’t get his name right away. At first we talked about calling him Zach since he was so floppy (typical ragdoll) that he seemed relaxed or like he was “on proZACH”. But that name just didn’t seem to fit. He wasn’t all that relaxed after all, in fact he was pretty afraid of his new environment. His leg muscles had atrophied due to lack of use and it was a couple weeks before he could walk well. He was fearful of his new, much larger surroundings and the old cat Mickey didn’t exactly welcome him home. He hid a large part of that first afternoon home and when he came out from behind the washer and dryer he was covered in fluff and dust. He became Dusty from that point forward.
He was never a lap cat but he dearly loved my brother and I know D. felt the same about him. He always carried a regal air about him, as though he knew just how very beautiful he was. He never snapped, hissed, bit, scratched or otherwise hurt so much as a fly and I’ll never forget bringing Rosie home for the first time and seeing him fall in love with the tiny kitten. I’ll always remember catching the two kitties in the bathtub licking each other on the face, “kissing”.
Last June, Dusty got sick. It was hard to tell he was sick because he was never one to eat much or be very playful. He sat and observed the world as it passed him by. By the time we realized he was sick it was already pretty serious but tests, medication and a tremendous amount of care got him through. We thought we were going to lose him last June but he held on for just a little while longer. Then, over the last month or so, he started developing breathing problems. My mom would race him to the vet’s office, to find that his lungs had filled with fluid. Four separate times, the vet removed several ounces of fluid from off his lungs. My mom and brother tried a least a dozen different therapies but the last and most promising never really got the opportunity to work. His lungs filling with fluid so quickly that he would have needed to be tapped every other day if not more frequently. His pain was quietly ended on Saturday.
Were it not for Dusty, we would not have known about ragdoll cats nor would we have gone on to adopt 4 additional raggies. And during the course of time he was sick, my mom, eternal cat lover and animal activist, managed to adopt 3 additional cats from the vet’s office. So all because of Dusty, 7 more cats found places in our lives. And anyone who says shelter animals need to be rescued never saw what it was like for a sweet and loving cat to be trapped in a cage with no place to rest but his litter box. He was rescued too and I hope we gave him a good life. I hope he knows how much we loved him. Rest in peace sweet Dusty.
Since this year has been both the greatest and most exhausting year of my life, I thought I’d take a few minutes to write about the things I have learned about motherhood. In no particular order….
1. Eat something before you head to the hospital. They really don’t let you eat or drink anything there. It’s tough to summon the energy to push a baby out when you haven’t eaten in 24+ hours.
2. Spending 9 months worrying about delivery is a big waste of worrying. Labor Amnesia kicks in before you can feel your legs again.
3. Epidurals are every bit as wonderful as I expected them to be.
4. Baby boys have no control over where they pee and will not stop even if they are hitting themselves in the face.
5. Cats and babies are okay together as long as the cat has a good 6-9 months to get used to it being there before the baby is mobile. At that point they realize they’re stuck with the thing. I must also add that cats are passive aggressive little creatures who will make their feelings known even if in subtle ways such as chewing the nipples off bottles or destroying teethers.
6. Milestones come when you least expect them. Worrying about when a baby will sit up or crawl or walk is silly. Just when you think it will never happen, they get up and walk across the room. Just because I know this doesn’t mean I won’t worry anyway.
7. Just because the parents are small doesn’t mean the baby will be.
8. You should never underestimate the strength of a baby who doesn’t want to be changed. Things that you never imagined you’d let your baby chew on become great toys when you need a distraction for this particular occasion.
9. Bath time can be considered an aerobic workout.
10. Travel systems are not necessary. Get the stroller frame and the bucket seat. Then switch to an umbrella stroller (I recommend the Maclaren)
11. All the stuff you get at your baby shower is awesome for the first few months when you realize you need a whole new set of stuff.
12. An 8 pound baby can take up more space than 2 grown adults.
13. You will not remember anything about the first month of your child’s life unless you write it down and take pictures. You may still not remember it. Like labor, we forget these things. It’s natures way of ensuring we have more children.
14. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone and if it doesn’t work for you, flipping out about it won’t help the situation. I don’t care what people say, Formula is a nutritionally perfect food. If breastfeeding was nutritionally perfect you wouldn’t have to supplement your baby’s diet with vitamins.
15. Make a point of taking a picture of your baby every single day. I had planned to do this and then didn’t do it and I wish more than anything that I had.
16. You can never take too many pictures.
17. All the things you thought you wouldn’t get done while you were pregnant and killed yourself doing in the last few weeks… waste of time. Life doesn’t cease to exist. Eventually, life continues. You will have time to do things again.
18. Sleep before the baby comes. That’s one thing you won’t be doing after it arrives.
19. You can have a baby and a clean house.
20. Napping while the baby naps is not good advice for someone anal about getting things done like me.
21. Bonding isn’t always instant. It’s okay if it’s not. It will happen.
22. Did I mention that you should take a lot of pictures.
23. People tell you that babies grow up fast and to enjoy every second of it. No truer word was ever spoken. By the time they reach a year old you’ll try to remember what they were like when they were tiny and you just can’t. They grow up before your eyes.
24. Just when you think you’ve kept everything clean and sanitized, you’ll find your baby eating cat fur and sticks.
25. You can never imagine the intensity of the love you will feel for your baby until one day you’re holding them in your arms and you feel like your heart will literally burst with the joy of knowing that you are holding the most precious being in the whole world. You will sit back and marvel at the amazing tiny child that your body created and try to imagine what the world was like before they were in it. Then you’ll realize that that world may never have existed because the only thing important now is the child in your arms and when he is there with you, everything is perfect.
Happy 1st Birthday my dear sweet precious Andrew
I got a new furbaby?!
Yeah she’s already about 6 months old but that’s what happens when you get really busy with life… you forget to update your website for months at a time. I almost forgot I had this thing but I got a bill in the mail for my webspace and thought, “oh yeah”. That makes me wonder what other things I’ve forgotten about. I think I’ll go look through my closet and see if there are any shoes or purses that I didn’t know I had… Anyway, here’s Lily
She’s about twice the size now. She got spayed today too. Poor baby. Of all random things, it turns out my furry little girl had a uterine horn aplasia which basically means that her left ovary wasn’t attached to her uterus. She’ll be fine. All that really means is that I just spent $250 getting my already infertile cat fixed.
So my cats have to eat this special food because Rosie is prone to kidney stones and after the 3rd (very costly) emergency vet visit in as many years, we decided to put her and thus Sam on this lovely $40 for an 18 lb bag perscription diet food that I have to special order 6 weeks in advance and drive across town to get. Well somehow lovebugs have found a way to get into our bathroom. Don’t ask me how, no other bugs come in but the cats think this is the greatest thing ever– interactive food. Not that they have a clue how to hunt. I’ve watched them yawn as an ant walks past them or turn their nose up at a gnat in the room. But the damn cats are EATING the lovebugs which is just gross on so many levels. They leave their little legs behind though so every day I get home from work and have to clean up lovebug legs off the floor of the bathroom. In the mean time they seem to be more attracted to their bug snacks than their obscenely expensive cat food. Somehow I don’t think they would respond to the “starving children in Africa” arguement. Luckily the lovebug season is almost over. Poor things will have to go back to eating like royalty. Brats.
Cats are better than cable. What can I say?
I mean really, who needs 600 channels of HDTV when you can watch sibling rivalry– of the fluffy variety– unfold right before you, live and 3D.
Well for those of you who said, “screw you, you’re nuts, I need my TV” I agree with you, but watching the cats comes in a close second. I happened to catch one of their disputes recently and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help Rosie and Sam make their international internet debut.
Now get your popcorn, sit back, relax and enjoy
Don’t get too excited, it’s only 10 frames.
For your viewing pleasure, a permenant link has been added below Fanlistings in the left hand navigation bar.
There are very few things in this world that I could not live without. My family and friends (cats included) are the most important things (people) in my life. I try really hard not to be caught up in material things. But lets face it, things are fun. So I wanted to give a “shout out” to all those things that I could live without but would really not want to: In random order: Read the rest of this entry »
So the cats have this toy. It’s a plastic stick with a long leopard print “tail” attached to it. On the very end there is a bundle of feathers. The thing is easily 4 feet long. They are in love with this toy. No matter how often I collect toys from throughout the house and put them where they belong, this one in particular always ends up being dragged out and about. In fact every night they drag this thing up the stairs where I find it propped up in my bed every morning. They take it from room to room and then sit there next to it admiringly. It really makes me wonder what they do all day. I’m picturing 5 year olds who take their dolls to “tea”… only, with cats… and long leopard print feathery toys… And as I’m pondering all of this, I think to myself… I’ve really gotta get out more.