A home without a cat — and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat — may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
– Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson
Note to readers: As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, I write about adoption and adoption-related issues. The time has come to talk about adopting a cat. Why? There’s a new four-legged friend in my life. Rescue kitty Charlie Chapman brings me such joy and laughter, I must share.
Several years ago, my orange tabby, Thomas Cromwell, died of feline immune deficiency. Thomas Cromwell, named after the protagonist of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall, had seen me through a major operation, repair of an abdominal aorta aneurism. He was a wonderful nurse. I tried in vain to repay the favor. When his time came, it was a holiday weekend and the vet’s office was closed. There were emergency services, but I was reluctant to put my frail, frightened feline in a cat carrier and take him to a place that would terrify him. Keeping by him round the clock, I would wait until the vet’s office opened on Tuesday. His friends (he was a very popular cat) visited to say goodbye. He passed away gently surrounded by the comforts of home, and I was devastated.
I knew that I would never invite another cat into my life. But…time passed and, as felines are wont to do, another kitty padded his way into my home and heart, a handsome gray and white seven-year-old. He’d won the hearts of the volunteers at Felines and Friends, and he was about to win mine.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
I’d just returned from a Viking River Cruise up the Elbe River, to the Czech Republic and eastern Germany. Before the trip, I’d met my future pet at the local cat rescue organization Felines and Friends. I was fairly certain that he wouldn’t still be available after my return. When he was still there, I decided that an adoption was meant to be. Filling out paperwork and paying the adoption fee, I took him home.
He is called “Chapman,” said the adoption folks. Hmmmm. “OK, kiddo,” I said to my new friend. “We have to think of a new name for you.” Two weeks of trial and error—Igor, Rochester, Sidney, William, and various other identifications—and I realized that all he needed was a first name to go along with “Chapman.” Thus “Charlie Chapman.”
NO PLACE LIKE HOME:
But which part of home would my new pet inhabit? At first, Chapman spent all his time inside — yes, inside — the recliner chair. A previous cat had carved out an interior cave in this comfy old piece of furniture and Charlie Chapman would spend long hours inside it. In fact, I seldom saw him. This was not the way become a social cat, one who would interact with friends and family. I placed small pet rugs and tempting kitty beds on top of couches, chairs, and beds and yet still Chapman disappeared into the recliner.
Not to be outsmarted, I cut some material out of the innards of the chair, removing his self-styled “hammock.” Next I cleaned and brought in two cinder blocks from the back yard. After tilting the chair up, I lowered it down OVER the cinder blocks. The hiding place was gone and my little friend would now have to be out and about. Suddenly he was on armchairs, the couch, in the kitchen, and roaming around the house. I was happier being able to interact with him, and he instantly became more outgoing. Now he races around the house as if he owned the place. It’s as though he’d been born and raised here.
Charlie Chapman is a model of adaptability. He’s quickly overcoming his shadowy, underprivileged past. Even as he wins a place in my heart, Chapman is teaching me.