Friday, May 06, 2005

OK, OK -- I really DO have a cat!

OK, unlike the earlier post, this one really is about a feline.
And I really do have a cat.
Well, actually we have two...for now.

Our cat for keeps is Hazel. Her full name is Hazelnut Francesca Shiner ***** (last name kept secret for those of you who are smart enough to associate it with my name.) But we just call her Hazel...and she seems to like that just fine. She's not terribly pretentious, and the entire name doesn't roll off the tongue like "Hazel."

I'll just lay it out here for you...I am not one of those 'crazy cat people.' (No offense intended for those people who ARE one of those 'crazy cat people.') I think animals should be treated humanely, but I haven't dedicated my life to 5K marathons for feral rescue centers and don't join protests for this or that animal cause.

So long as we have that straight. Back to my story.

Hazel came to live with us 2 years ago. My former cat had died a couple of years prior to that, and it took me awhile to feel like I could bring another cat to live with us. So I headed to Operation Kindness (a no-kill shelter) to 'interview' prospective cats. Because our kids were small at the time, and because I had had my previous cat for 9 years, I had some specifications that I wanted to adhere to. They were as follows: 1) Must be declawed; 2) Must not have bobbed tail -- bobbed tails freak me out; 3) Must be ok with kids. And so the interview process started. I went back to the 'cat room' and began to sort through cats, looking at their profiles, asking about their temperments, trying to interact with them to determine which one would be a good fit.

I kid you not, 2 hours later I think I had looked at every file card on every cat there. And so I sat on the bench and was resigning myself to the fact that this was not the trip where I would find a new kitty cat to come home with me. Then up jumped this sweet little tortie -- sat right on the bench beside me and nestled into the side of my leg.

I asked the volunteer who this kitty was -- had I not seen her?
"Ah, that's Shiner. She's kinda the house cat here -- been here almost a year and no one seems too interested in her."

Shiner leaned in further, and her purring was at a dull roar.

"You wouldn't like her. She has all four claws, and well...her tail..."

Now there's a dilemma. She already had two strikes against her. Claws and that dratted bobbed tail that freaks me out. But she continued to love on me and her motor just kept going. Well, another half hour later, I had signed the papers and adopted "Shiner" to come home with me. As a family, we wanted to come up with a more suitable name, and given her coffee coloring, we went through a list of coffee related names, settling on Hazelnut...and calling her Hazel for short. (Francesca was added because I felt like she needed something royal since she had had such a rotten past. She had come to the shelter beaten up, broken tail and pregnant with a litter.)

Hazel has been with us ever since. Never using her claws, and always acting like a little lady. And even the bobbed tail cracks us up because it 'twitters' back and forth when she is hungry and her food bowl is unacceptably empty.

She perfect cat.

February 26th, I woke up in the middle of the night knowing that something was wrong. Hazel had not come to sleep above my head on my pillow, as was customary each night. So at 3am (I guess it is technically the 27th at this time), I began to tear the house upside down looking for my sweet Hazel...but alas, she was nowhere to be found. I tried to go back to sleep, but I knew that she had somehow gotten out of the house.

The next morning we made flyers with her picture, and I walked up and down the streets posting her picture and looking for her. (Oh yeah, I had a broken foot and was walking around with a cast/boot on.) For the next several days, I would sit outside at night and just softly call her name thinking she might come home. No sign of her. And the tears would just flow at the thought of her or the mention of her name. She was my lap cat, and her loss was like an emotional amputation. I hadn't realized how attached to her I was until she was gone.

Did I mention that I am not one of those crazy cat people? I did? OK, I'll continue.

I emailed every shelter, and I visited our city shelter every other day -- as those who go to the city shelter...well, let's just say that they check in but they don't check out unless they are adopted or claimed. And three weeks later, I had to go out of town for business for the week.

Then, at the end of the week, I got a hysterical call from DH who had seen our sweet Hazel in the alley! To make a long story not so excruciatingly long, he trapped her (one month after her disappearance) and Hazel has been home ever since.

I guess this really isn't that compelling to anyone else. I just happened to be sitting here looking at her lounged on the bed, as if nothing had ever happened. She caught me looking at her, then yawned, closed her eyes and rolled over on her side to take a little cat nap.

And I smiled.

I have a cat.


At 9:10 AM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

A beautiful story and definitely something to smile about! I am happy the two of you re-united.

Happy Mother's Day to you, sweet lady. Even if you have to work, when you come home, your children will be there for you,

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