Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I Came To Have Three Cats

As the title - which may be temporary - states, I have three cats. Two are mine and one is in my custody as a foster-cat. I never meant to have three cats. One seems to collect them, like knick knacks on the top of a bookcase, though they tend to need more than just dusting.

I didn't know much about cats when I brought home my first one. As it is about life in general, I seemed to know much more before I became involved with them than I do now. Previously, I barely liked cats. Well, that's not true. I liked them, and would stop to pet one if I saw it. But I didn't think they were for me. I thought them inscrutable. But, like books, one just has to learn to read in order to understand them.

My first cat is Tungsten. The name was about the only thing I was sure of in regard to a cat. I figured it would be a good name for either a male or a female, and it's my favourite element.

Then came Josie. I would have re-named her but she'd been living with me for half a year before I decided to adopt her, so the name had already stuck.

Temporarily living with me is Ren. He's a big boy with hair longer than the others. That doesn't mean it sheds more, however. It doesn't mean it sheds less, either.

I suppose it would be useful to give you some background on how I came to acquire these animals. Tungsten I adopted three years ago from the PAW Society in Lethbridge, Alberta. I had no idea of animal rescue groups at the time, and figured I'd see cats in rows of cages. Instead, I was greeted immediately upon entering the Cat Compassion Centre (as it then existed) by a long, low, friendly cat named Mister Irving, who came out at the sound of the door opening. He greeted everyone in a similarly chummy manner, I was told.

I met quite a few cats there, and though I had a notion of what sort I was looking for, I was naturally apprehensive about taking home the wrong one, the kind that makes you wish you'd never heard of the feline species and hates you as much as you come to hate it. There was Pearl, who was older and sedate; Thumbelina, of the extra toes; Jessie, who was round and grey; Terri, black, frightened and difficult to meet. Some have since been adopted, some continue to wait for the right person to take them home.

Some cats lived in PAW's Compassion Centre, a haven for cats on the north side of Lethbridge. It has since had to close. At the time, some others, and since then, all of PAW's cats lived in private homes, foster-homes. In one of these homes, I met Tungsten.

Tungsten is a tiny orange and white cat, six and a half pounds at most. She's symmetrical, with pale outlines of circles on each flank, brown, elongated patches on the backs of her feet, a ringed tail and a bunch of white lace at her throat. Her left eye has a damaged pupil. When I met her, she was in a cat-bed on the top shelf of a closet, from which she could look out a window. She was a little put upon in her situation, nothing too bad, but not near the top of her house's hierarchy.

I held her and she started purring. It may have been anxiety, like nervous laughter, but I took it as a good sign. From what I was told, she seemed to be the sort I was looking for: quiet, healthy but not too active, playful at times but preferring the sedentary life. I should have realized then that she was a little too much like me. After my visit with Tungsten, I told a friend that that cat 'went to the top of the list'. After thinking about it for a week, there was no list, just Tungsten.

I started buying all the things one needs for a cat - or rather all the things it seems obvious a cat needs: litter-box (with hood, to prevent the tossing of litter (a vain hope in some cases)), litter (made from pine - that was new to me), a perch/scratching post, two kinds of food (hard and soft), toys of various kinds. My neat and tidy apartment began to take on the slightly frayed look that would eventually leave it almost completely unravelled.

Then Tungsten came to her new home. She wasn't called Tungsten then. She was Presley. That name was adequate, but it wasn't my cat's name. She was initially excited, and explored. But the first night, she was melancholy; she realized that this new situation may be lasting longer than she'd thought. She sat alone in the bedroom. She was home-sick, and living with a stranger. But that night, she slept on the bed.

After that, it was simply a matter of getting used to each other, which we did, and of getting to know each other, which we are.

Josie is my beautiful Chubs. Fifteen pounds of white cat with tabby spots and a ringed tail (though there is a black line down its top) and a light brown bum. I brought her home about a year and a half after I got Tungsten. I thought Tungsten might be lonely with me away all day. She was lonely - for me. The presence of another cat in the apartment was resented, and Josie was hated. There was hissing, and growling, and fights. But now, Josie is accepted, if not loved, by Tungsten. She is a little more vocal than Tungsten yet more reticent. It's only lately that I feel I've become her friend, though she's always been friendly. She sleeps on the bed, too, but it took a long time before Tungsten would allow it. She squeaks more than meows and is a pacifist at heart.

Ren is my latest addition. Temporary, I keep telling myself. He deserves to go into a separate article on foster-cats I have known. He's a gentle fellow, a softy, and is quick to make friends - after hiding from you for the first few hours.

These are the three cats I have.


  1. I wish there were more people like you!!
    We need so many more foster homes for The Last Chance Cat Ranch and I am just not finding anyone who cares enough.
    Are there more out there like you?