He Makes My Heart Sing



Somali Ollie
He was a rescue cat from Petco who, along with his siblings, was abandoned on the side of the Detroit Lakes highway, so his rescuers called him Detroit Tony. I wanted him from the start, but Peggy insisted that we check-out the cats at the Greenhill shelter first. When nothing there interested her, we set out on the long drive back across town to get Tony (we renamed him Ollie). I was in fear the whole way that he would be gone, and he would have been had another couple's application been accepted. My heart not only sings but dances every time I look at that cat. To me, he's the most beautiful thing in the universe (except for Peggy, of course), and you really must click on his photo.

Peggy and I agree that two cats are enough--we wouldn't even have two had I not begged and pleaded for years--but I can't look at cats "just for fun" without finding one I want. I found my most recent love last week in the form of a long-haired and happily playful black female who was the same age (ten months) and diminutive size as Ollie and even had his eyes. Without Peggy to restrain me, I would have gotten that cat, and this troubles Peggy more than a little. I know we don't need a third cat because the two we have couldn't be more in love, and a third cat might cause jealousy, but I still wish I had that black cat. When I see a cat I want, it's as if we were intended to be together since the first millisecond of the Big Bang.

At least, I'm satisfied with just having cats, while Peggy so misses the effusive adoration of dogs that our two-pet limit would go right down the toilet if she ever came across a miniature white rescue poodle. All that such a dog would need to do would be to stare into her face with its warm little eyes while shaking its ugly little tail, and she would do everything short of kneeling before me in tears as she pleaded, "I know we agreed that two pets is enough, but..." The sad truth is that it's much harder for me to say no to Peggy than for her to say no to me. While I know that a dog would, just by nature of being a dog, come between us and our cats, I also know that if Peggy wanted a dog and didn't get it because I said no, she would never get over thinking about how wonderful her life might have been had I said yes.

Our next to last dog was a pet shop blue heeler, which I didn't want because I believed it came from a puppy mill, but right after assuring me that she would graciously honor my wishes, she said under her breath, "I WANT THAT DOG." It was the first time that her heart had opened to any dog in the years since our schnauzer, Wendy, died, so the pressure was more than I could bear. She later told me that she didn't even know she said such a thing, and I believed her, but it was those barely audible four words that made it impossible for me to say no. I don't know why she's tougher than I about saying no to her spouse. I think it might have something to do with gender, but I don't see it as having anything to do with love. Still, I really and truly and deeply wanted that black cat, and she's the reason I don't have it.

31 comments:

Emma Springfield said...

To give a home to an animal that was not wanted by someone is a wonderful gift. We always take rescued pets. Sometimes they come with emotional baggage but when the problems are overcome their rewards are powerful.

Anonymous said...

My sister has six cats. They come to her house looking for room and board. She cannot say no.
She takes them in. She then drives the newest arrival to the vet for a check up, medical care. Her day is consumed with the care and feeding of her cats. My sister would not have it any other way.
Meanwhile, this weekend I fell in love with a French bulldog.
Kris

Charles Gramlich said...

Detroit Tony! Sure he's not with the catnip mob?

Snowbrush said...

“Sometimes they come with emotional baggage but when the problems are overcome their rewards are powerful.”

I’ll never buy another pet (paying a hundred dollar rescue fee isn’t buying a pet), and I’m shocked now that I ever did. I too experience great joy in knowing that I gave a home to a creature that had an unfortunate beginning to its life and poor prospects for its future. That said, I would never knowingly take on a problem animal. Right now, I have two blogger friends who are dealing with problem dogs that they adopted, and I know another blogger who finally had to give up a greyhound because despite enormous time, effort and money, she realized that she couldn’t do anything to alleviate her dog’s emotional-based misery, so he went to someone else who was willing to give it a try. As I see it, pets—like people—pose enough of a challenge even when they’re “normal.” The worse problem we’ve had to deal with was a very powerful dog who would bite us, and while we had never imagined that we would even keep such a dog, we nonetheless loved her with intense devotion, although she went to her grave 15-years late with her willingness to bite still intact. She had gotten much better, but I don’t believe that there was a trainer in the world who could have completely overcome the problem she posed. One thing that I learned from owning pedigreed dogs was that breed matters, and that all the training in world can’t make it not matter.

“Her day is consumed with the care and feeding of her cats.”

Here’s a friend of mine whose life is devoted to the welfare of cats: http://catwomanflix.blogspot.com/. A lot of people become that way. Peggy has an aunt who feeds all the stray cats in Utica, Mississippi. She gets them spayed and neutered when she can, but since they’re outdoor cats, I feel sorry for her neighbors—not to forget the wildlife in the area. Cat people often tend to minimize the harm that cats do to wildlife, but the statistics are grim.

“I fell in love with a French bulldog.”

When the critics of gay marriage said that if you let homosexuals marry today, you’ll have to let people marry their dogs tomorrow, I didn’t take them seriously! Does this mean you’re going to get that dog? Do you have a name picked out?

By the way, Anon, if you would be so kind as to use a name when you visit—Bill, Sue, Larry, Moonglow—I could pick you out from the other anonymouses, and this would give me a feeling of continuity with you. It’s also possible to set up a Blogspot account without having a blog.

“Detroit Tony! Sure he's not with the catnip mob?”

Haven’t your heard that he barely escaped a mob hit? I don’t remember doing it with other pets, but I’m forever making up stories about his past, but they’re focused on Somalia rather than Detroit. Peggy has even given him a breed name—Somalian Silver Plush—complete with ancestry (something about a romantic encounter between a escaped Siamese show cat and the notorious wildcat of Somalia). It’s funny that just using the name of that horrid place to represent something good in my life makes me almost sympathetic to it. If you put a map of Somalia in front of me right now, the first thing I would think of would be my cat. It’s incredible how powerful fiction can be, even in the mind of its creator.

Anonymous said...

I sign my name-" Kris." (My real name) I will sign up for a blog, so I can post with a name.

Helen said...

Hi there! I have rescued two cats who were wandering the streets most likely abandoned by thoughtless owners. The first, Kasper, stuck around for almost seventeen years. We were devastated when we had to let him go. We (kids and me) stayed with him as our vet administered the lethal injection. It was just incredibly sad. Rocky was my second rescue. He was about eight months old when I brought him home from work on a cold rainy night in early December 2006. Rocky was a hunter and loved bringing his prey home ~ gifts for his mistress. Unfortunately Rocky also brought prey to my townhome neighbors ~ I have ten of them. In time, they revolted .. and not graciously I might add. Our local humane society took Rocky and though they don't usually divulge what happens to pets that are surrendered, I learned a month or so later a family living outside Bend adopted him ~ the needed a "mouser" for their barn. Happy ending.

Helen

Elephant's Child said...

Our two black cats are both rescue cats. And both much loved. Jazz has issues. From time to time he moves into psycho cat mode and attacks me. Singing a song of war. And is still much loved.
And I so understand your heart singing for a cat.
Both of us would weaken and get another. So far only one of us has been weak at a time. Simultaneous weakness would/will result in another cat claiming a spot in our home and in our hearts.

Strayer said...

Detroit Toni is awesome and beautiful. So happy you have him. Was the adoption group KATA? (Kitty Angel Team Adoption) by any chance?

Stephen Hayes said...

It's hard to believe two cats aren't enough. It's not bad for one person in a relationship to be the one applying the breaks. I can't imagine what it would be like if my wife agreed to everything I wanted.

hannah jane said...

This is an incredibly touching post. Ollie looks like such a cuddler : ).

BBC said...

I just feed the feral cats here.

Sparkling Red said...

Ollie is a gem. :-)

I worry about what will happen to my fur brothers if/when my parents become unable to care for them. I mean, I worry about my parents too; that's just one more detail to throw on the top of that worry stack. I wouldn't be able to take them because of my husband's allergies. :-(

PipeTobacco said...

Pets are a joy.

kylie said...

I decided long ago that I would never have a cat because of their penchant for killing wildlife (also, my husband professes to hate cats)
A few years back I rescued a very small kitten who was standing in the rain and apparently abandoned. Despite the fact I had no intention of owning a cat, the act of rescuing her made me responsible for her in the long term and I was fortunate that my parents were ready to take on a new cat after the death of the previous one. It's a marvellous arrangement in that I get to see her and follow her progress without having to deal with an unsupportive husband.

My beloved dog, Taff was a rescue and I would never buy a dog from a shop or breeder while so many languish in shelters.

Any animal is lucky to have you and Peggy

Snowbrush said...

“Rocky was a hunter and loved bringing his prey home ~ gifts for his mistress.”

Maybe he just thought you were no good at hunting! I wouldn’t allow a cat to spend any of its time outdoors except in an enclosure. I could probably list a hundred reasons for this, but they would all fall under the headings of safety for my cat, and safety for wildlife. On this, Peggy and at are in strongest agreement. I’ve heard that some cats simply can’t be contained indoors, and I but hope that I never have one.

“Jazz has issues. From time to time he moves into psycho cat mode and attacks me.”

Not like what happened to this man, I hope: http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=80716

“Was the adoption group KATA? (Kitty Angel Team Adoption) by any chance?”

It was. We discovered that Ollie was ill with a virus a day or so after bringing him home. If this had happened with a Green Hill cat, they would have covered the cost, but with KATA, we had to either return the cat or pay the cost ourselves, and there was no way we were going to return the cat. They did say that they had a vet who would treat him at a reduced price, but their vet wasn’t in Eugene. I think it took about three vet visits and maybe a couple of hundred dollars to get Ollie up and running, but we didn’t really object because we were dealing with a very small organization, so if the expense hadn’t come out of our pockets, it would have come out of theirs. The reason that KATA is adopting cats down here in Eugene was that the Petco Store Manager had worked with them at her previous store (it was in Albany or maybe Corvallis), and liked them, so when she came down here, she continued working with them. We found her a very nice lady who really cares about helping cats. It’s the Petco at Gateway, by the way.

“It's hard to believe two cats aren't enough.”

Sandy Dennis had 33, and Peggy’s sister has nine. I never wanted to keep piling on dogs the way I’m tempted to do with cats. I don’t know what it is about them that’s different other than that they’re a lot less work, and this makes it easier to keep bringing them home. It’s a little like going grocery shopping and being tempted by the chocolates.

“Ollie looks like such a cuddler : ).”

He and Brewsky are both that way—when they want to be.

Snowbrush said...

“I would never have a cat because of their penchant for killing wildlife (also, my husband professes to hate cats)”

I think there’s something wrong with people who hate cats—or dogs, for that matter. Peggy used to say she hated them, but her real problem was a near phobia of them that resulted in quite a lot of nightmares in which she was being attacked by cats. One day, a mother cat who we didn’t even know needed help, and Peggy helped it. If she had done differently, I would have have lost a great deal of bottom-line respect for her. My image of a typical cat hater is of a male who thinks everything in the universe should bow at his feet, and his ego is hurt because of cats’ unwillingness to do this. He therefore loudly proclaims his hatred of cats and might even be prone to killing them when he can.

“I would never buy a dog from a shop or breeder while so many languish in shelters.”

I have bought pedigrees, and I can understand the desire to own pedigrees (the predictability factor), but I have come to consider it unethical to buy them both for the reason you mention, and because inbreeding causes breed specific diseases. I’m now shocked to learn that cats are being bred to look as absurd as a great many dogs, and in the process, they too are succumbing all manner of horrible breed-specific diseases. You might recall that we provided foster care for a Persian for a while. I fell in love with that cat, but, my god, at the diseases Persians are prone to. How deeply unethical it is to pay money to people for the breeding of creatures who are condemned to a life of vet visits and misery, and to do so while perfectly wonderful animals are being killed for want of a home.

Helen said...

PS ~~ Rocky at age 8 months, unbeknownst to me, was already an "outdoor" cat. I tried in vain to keep him indoors. By the time Spring arrived, he could not be contained. I agree with you, my first cat was an indoor kitty .. for seventeen years. No worries about him or the other critters roaming the neighborhood.

kylie said...

my husband most certainly believes that the universe should bow to him

Snowbrush said...

“Rocky at age 8 months, unbeknownst to me, was already an "outdoor" cat. I tried in vain to keep him indoors. By the time Spring arrived, he could not be contained.”

Yes, if a cat was determined to get out, no outside door could once be opened without first putting him or her behind an inside down, so I can see how you got worn down. On the ten or twenty occasions when Brewsky got out, he would run a short distance and then stand there looking lost. He would usually get under the car, where I first tried scolding and poking at him (I was tempted to get the hose, and I think I even might have done so at least once, although I hope I didn’t really go that far), but then realized that treats and a soft voice worked a whole lot better. If I rewarded a dog for bad behavior, the dog would learn bad behavior, but rewarding a cat for bad behavior doesn’t appear to result in an increase of the behavior.

So far, Ollie has never even tried to get out. Brewsky made an attempt a few weeks ago, and it was his first in a long, long time. When it happened, Peggy had been running errands, and by the time we got back, his supper was late, so when we opened the door, he came racing past us, and then just stood there looking addled. Sometimes, the look on his face makes it appear that he didn’t think through whatever it was he just did. I have spent a lot of happy hours wondering what in the hell it is that cats think. Dogs are a puzzler too, but cats the moreso.

As for squirting Brewsky, I would never even raise my voice to him now, but when he was young, he was the most exasperatingly stubborn and sneaky little shit I had ever encountered, and we had some wild chases back then when he became fixated on the very thing that I most didn’t want him to do. Now, he’s as loving and docile as he could possibly be, and I know that if I scolded him, he would be devastated, so I can’t even imagine raising my voice to him. Now, Ollie is somewhat like Brewsky was (not nearly so bad though), but I never scold him without petting Brewsky immediately afterwards to let him know that I’m not getting onto him (I then pet Ollie too). He accepts this completely. Nothing is more touching to me than to know that my cats trust me, and that they even look to me for reassurance anything something scary happens—a strange noise, for instance, or a trip to the vet. Unless they have been abused, dogs just naturally trust people, but cats have to be won over.

“my husband most certainly believes that the universe should bow to him”

I hate this in men (I think it’s probably connected to a surplus of testosterone) and regard it as a major cause of the world’s violence. What’s more, If I met a man who really and truly hated cats, I couldn’t be that person’s friend, and I would have a HUGE problem with a spouse who told me I couldn’t have a cat because she hated cats. Maybe I’m being too harsh about not befriending a cat hater, but when someone hates cats, I read other negative characteristics into his or her makeup.

E. Rosewater said...

You should go get Peggy a poodle. In an earlier post you said you'd give your life up for Peggy so getting her that poodle would be an excellent show of good "faith."

Susan Kane said...

Having had both a cat and a dog (at different times) it would be a hard choice, indeed.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Snowbrush said...

“In an earlier post you said you'd give your life up for Peggy so getting her that poodle would be an excellent show of good “faith.’"

All bets were off about that “I’ll die for you” thing after she wouldn’t let me have that black cat—which the only thing that stood between me and eternal orgasmic ecstasy. Besides, it’s a bit harder to live for someone than to die for them, so by not getting that eternal orgasmic ecstasy against her wishes (hence causing her to leave me), I was in effect saying that I loved her so much that I had rather be miserable with her than happy without her.

“Having had both a cat and a dog (at different times) it would be a hard choice, indeed.”

“A cat and dog”? I must be up to at least fifteen dogs by now, and while I grew up with cats, I never paid as much attention to them as I did to my dogs, so having cats now is a new experience.

All Consuming said...

"Still, I really and truly and deeply wanted that black cat, and she's the reason I don't have it." - Well the main thing is you don't hold a grudge.

Hahahahahaha. No, but really that black cat may well have ended up shitting on your head ever morning and singing bad jazz music every night, there's just no telling with animals, and you were right with the blue heeler for sure. *nods a lot*. Anyway, what with the butterfly effect, had you got the black cat, you may never have met me on here and had a friend for life so sod the cat and be grateful.

Amen. *runs off quick-smart and send her love as she goes*. X

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

If I didn't have to travel to check on Mom so often, I think I'd have another dog...but there is something about spoiling one rotten!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Touching post about furry friends, as always :)

kj said...

hi snow, after our sad experience with chase the greyhound, i find i'm more cautious in choosing a shelter dog, which is a caution i understand but don't like. JB and i have begun to look for a dog or even two, based on not just welcomed companionship but on a belief that shelter animals deserve and appreciate homes.

would peggy absolutely say no to a third cat if your happiness was on the line? would you cut a deal that included that black cat and a her little poodle? i'm not an advocate of six cats at once, but maybe you two plus four could work :^)

"Still, I really and truly and deeply wanted that black cat, and she's the reason I don't have it"
i love this sentence: in context, it's charming and direct.

love
kj

PipeTobacco said...

Pets are indeed wonderful. While I like both cats and dogs and have both.... cats are definitely easier in my opinion. I love my dog dearly, but she requires much more planning and effort, especially if my family wants to go on a trip.

PipeTobacco

Snowbrush said...

“No, but really that black cat may well have ended up shitting on your head ever morning and singing bad jazz music every night”

Brewsky only cries when he wants to be fed, but Ollie cries a great deal more than that. He especially cries at night, moans like a lover anytime when we pick him up, screams like he’s being murdered when he and Brewsky are playing, and so forth. I love his many sounds.

“If I didn't have to travel to check on Mom so often, I think I'd have another dog…”

I’m more content with just having cats than is Peggy. Still, with two cats, she hesitates about taking on a dog too, but if we did get a dog, we agree that it would be a purse size critter—portable, as it were; something we could bathe in the sink rather than the tub.

“Touching post about furry friends, as always :)”

Thank you.

“would peggy absolutely say no to a third cat if your happiness was on the line?”

If I put it to her that way, I should think she would be abused. I can see putting “having a pet” in those terms, but the more pets one has, the less that sort of argument works. I have told her that if having a dog is really important to her, then we’ll get a dog, and it has thus far been her choice not to get a dog. I would welcome one if she wanted him or her, but I had just soon not. Still, we have often discussed getting a dog—and have even gone to look at dogs—but our main concern is how it would fit in with two cats. My main concern is that the cats would never warm up to a dog, and that he would push them aside as far as how we relate to them. I am tempted by birds, sometimes. I know the cats would enjoy having a bird (maybe too much), and I enjoy their singing, but we’ve never had a bird (although both of our mothers did when we were kids), and they look like they could be a fair amount of trouble and mess.

As for your fear of shelter dogs, mutts do tend to be healthier. Chase wasn’t a mutt, and Chase was a very screwed-up adult when you got her. I really don’t think I would have hung-in there with her as long as you did.

“cats are definitely easier in my opinion”

A friend said that cats fall in the area between having a dog and not having a pet at all. That’s true, logistically, but I think that both have their magic. I do lean toward cats that are like dogs in terms of friendliness. I really like that when we have guests, the cats go to greet them.

possum said...

We are down to 2 cats, one in and one out. The outdoors cat is terrified of being in the house. He has lived outside since he arrived here in the middle of a hurricane as a kitten with an older orange cat 13 years ago. He has a heated box to sleep in in the winter and seems as content as he can be since he lost his orange companion (and a love bug) a couple years ago. Spook will nap on the bench under the bird feeders and the birds don't pay him any mind nor he they.
The indoor cat, a serious love bug, was left in the woods at a friend's place, was a seriously sick kitten, left on a baby blanket with (I assume) a paper plate of food.
Among other problems, he has HIV so he cannot be left outside around other animals nor can we have another animal in the house with him. Nor will any kennels take him so we can go on a vacation.

Having lost my Lab many years ago (he got out of his enclosure and ran out into the road) I haven't had the heart to go thru that again. Now, my old body won't let me go walk a dog especially at 2 AM. It is bad enough when I have to get up at that hour let alone try to get the legs working and go outside.
Ah, if I were younger................

I am so glad you have your babies. You are good for each other.

PS, we used to have one (Rascal) that screamed and yelled like he was being tortured in hell when you tickled his belly or played rough with him. But he lived for that interaction. Rusty, the one we have now, loves the same rough play, but never makes a sound. Go figure. But he announces when Spook is up and about on the car port.

Snowbrush said...

“Having lost my Lab many years ago (he got out of his enclosure and ran out into the road) I haven't had the heart to go thru that again.”

I had wondered if it was possible for me to love a cat as much as I’ve loved my dogs, but have decided that it is, which means that being a cat person isn’t going to shield me from grief when one dies. While it’s true that cats aren’t usually as demonstrative as dogs, it’s clear that they care about Peggy and me, but that their main relationships are with one another. They often sleep with their legs around one another. We had hoped when we got Ollie that he and Brewsky would be friends, but we never had any thought that they would be madly in love to the point that, if one died, I would worry about the survival of the other. They have put me in serious doubt about cats being members of a solitary species because they stay in physical touch so much of the time when they’re napping, and they also wrestle and chase one another. I often watch them sitting face-to-face with their tails rapidly twitching before one of them either jumps on the other or a chase ensues.

MFH said...

We, Michelle Cook & I (see: Catlackeys.com), know someone who has over 25 cats (or they, the cats, have them). The master bedroom is where the "elders" spend their final days, but the rest of their 1400-square-foot home is given over to one category or another -- those that can't get along, have contagious illnesses, or some such. The living room and den is covered with cats.

Our Tortie, Bonsai, was severely traumatized at a very young age (she was found under a dumpster) and has only bonded with Michelle. She is wary of me and in order to keep her anxiety at lower levels, rarely even gesture as if to touch her. (Oddly, she once licked my toe in the middle of the night when I got up to go to the bathroom.)

Bringing Smith into the house has caused A LOT of upset. We have my former mother-in-law's" two cats and their addition ten months ago still doesn't sit well with Bonsai. We, Smith & I, hope to leave in a few days.

Ollie is a beautiful cat! Congratulations to all three of you!!