Several years ago I told my family that after our dogs Jenna and Socks were gone I did not want any more pets, not even a goldfish. Even though she had lived a long and wonderful life, caring for Jenna in her final year and then saying goodbye to her was some of the most emotionally difficult stuff I’ve ever done. It was tough on Socks, too, but I’m truly grateful to have had him because we helped each other heal and grieve by taking long walks together. Eventually the pain lessened and we found a way to honor Jenna’s memory while moving on with our lives. Socks was getting lots of love, attention, and much-needed walks and I was content with the fact he was the only non-human creature in our family. Things were going pretty well until Nick suddenly made a crazy request.
I can’t remember the exact date, but sometime in the middle of last year Nick started to ask for a cat. He vowed it would be his cat, he would pay for it (or we could get him one as a birthday gift), and he would take care of it. I immediately reminded him of my no-more-pets declaration because we all know I’d be the one to actually take care of his future cat. He didn’t give up, though. I managed to hold him off until after his birthday with the
argument rationalization that we were going on a family vacation soon and the timing wasn’t good to be bringing home a new pet. And then he asked again around Christmas. Again I came up with a reasonable excuse as to why that wasn’t a good time of year, either, and we didn’t talk about it again for several months. Those several months were some of the most difficult for us as a family, but that’s a post for a different day and time.
Spring arrived, we were fortunate to take another family vacation, and then Nick brought up the idea of a cat again. I really wanted to say no, but I was beginning to see what it meant to him and more importantly what it could mean to his mental health. We talked seriously about the idea and I agreed to take to him to visit a local animal shelter. On our first visit there were several cats in need of a home, but none he felt a connection to. I explained that when it’s meant to be he’ll find the perfect cat for him and promised we’d revisit the shelter again soon. A couple of weeks passed and I noticed on the shelter’s Facebook page that they had a litter of kittens, so I suggest we make another visit. On our way to the kitten room we stopped to see all the adult cats, including a new guy named “Buddy”. We visited and played with the kittens for awhile until I realized it was almost time for the shelter to close. Nick wanted to stop at Buddy’s cage one more time before heading home. He was friendly, lovable, and most importantly he put a smile on Nick’s face that was different from the smile the kittens had put on his face. Since the shelter was about to close we asked for an adoption application and agreed to talk about it more on our way home.
Here’s the thing. In a world where most people gravitate toward cute babies, clumsy puppies, and playful kittens, my kid wanted to take home an adult cat that the shelter estimated to be around 12 years old (our veterinarian thinks he’s probably closer to 8) and that makes me proud. I mean, let’s face it, those kittens were pretty much adopted before they even arrived at the shelter and I know for a fact they all found homes in less than a week. Buddy, though, was a senior cat and while I’m pretty sure someone would have scooped him up pretty quickly, I also know that most people are looking for kittens or puppies when they want to adopt a new pet.
So. Long story that’s gone on long enough, Nick convinced his Dad to get out of work early the next day so they could go “visit” Buddy again. I knew better since Paul is often way more of a pushover than I am when it comes to our kids and I was right because before I knew it they were on their way home with a cat named Buddy. There have been a few bumps along the way, but he’s been a part of our family for almost two months and we’re all pretty much in love, including Socks, but I swear this is absolutely the last pet anyone is bringing into our home. No. Seriously.
P.S. Guess who cleans the litter box?
P.P.S. I’ve taken a few pictures of Buddy. You’re welcome.