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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Seeing Spots!

We didn’t intend to do this; we just wanted to meet one. Now we have four—but only for a time.

I posted before about losing two elderly cats in the last three years or so, and about my sweet Charlie having cancer. For a cat who was given a couple of weeks, he’s doing remarkably well so far, thanks to a weekly dose of chemo—but he’s on borrowed time. That will leave our 13 year-old, Daisy, alone. She was very closely bonded to Charlie and the two we lost, especially Kelli, and has grieved her deeply; she has only recently resumed grooming and cuddling with Charlie, after several months.

In the interim, we tried twice to adopt adult cats from a wonderful agency, Pets Bring Joy: a cute little calico girl, and, when that didn’t work, they recommended we try a sweet, handsome boy. Both adapted to our menagerie very quickly—but after a few weeks, each began attacking Daisy! (The calico has since found a home; the boy kitty is still looking for his, in case you're looking.)

Nature can be harsh, and there’s a reason it’s the strong who survive. Daisy would not have, had she not been rescued by some little girls from under a trailer 13 years ago. Apparently because there was something wrong with her, her mother abandoned her at only a couple of days old. She—and Charlie—were bottle-raised by the wonderful folks at Animal Allies, one of our favorite rescues (we also adopted Kelli from them).The girls who found her named her Daisy and asked if she could keep that name; the rescue agreed, so we also honored their request. Daisy has cerebellar hypoplasia (fortunately a very mild case), which makes her really klutzy. In addition, the end of her tail had exposed bone, so about a third had to be removed. She’s also tiny. The problem is, because she’s tiny and awkward, she seems to have a “kick me” sign that only cats see, and both of the cats we tried to adopt eventually began attacking her. It doesn’t help that she really reacts, which makes her so much fun to pick on …

After the last catastrophe (unintended pun), we worked on improving Daisy’s confidence again and getting her out of our bedroom, which had become her refuge. Once we saw significant improvement, we were ready for another try. We figured our last shot at adding a cat (or two) was with a kitten, somebody smaller than Daisy and not threatening. We saw a lovely little calico online (until recently, I’ve had calicos since the ‘70s) and went to see her (she's the one one the left). After hearing our situation, the foster mom recommended one of her sisters (on the right) as being a bit more outgoing, but not as much as the third sister (below)(calicos tend to be somewhat assertive). We agreed, and filled out the paperwork on the “middle child.”

Before we met the little calico family, we had learned from the rescue that the foster family—the second they’d been with—was going out of town for 10 days over Thanksgiving The kittens were about to be spayed, and would then go to another foster home and then back again. Since the people at the rescue knew our situation, we were officially “fostering to adopt” the one; maybe we’d like to foster a couple? Somehow, we volunteered to pick the whole calico family up from the vet and foster them.

Well, it seemed like a good chance to learn the kittens’ personalities and see if one of them would work with Daisy and the rest of our crew. What we’re hoping now is that we can also keep the mama!

Sophia, the tiny mother of this family, so deserves a second chance. Barely more than a kitten herself—she’s only about a year old, and barely bigger than her kittens—she was found under a trailer with her three calico babies: Rose, Dorothy and Blanche; yes, the Golden Girls. (Sophia's ear was clipped because she was spayed before they knew she was tame and wouldn't have to be released to a feral colony.) Because they were born without the benefit of a home and have only been in captivity a couple of weeks, we are spending a lot of time just getting the kittens to trust us enough that they don’t shrink from being petted and handled. But Sophia was purring and letting us pet her within 15 minutes of arriving at our house. This is not a feral cat; someone likely abandoned her (there is a special place in hell for people who abandon animals). She’s so responsive to attention … and the kittens are coming around quickly. They arrived on Friday afternoon, and by my last visit that night, I was able to hold each one. Mostly, I just sit and played and talked and watched. And indeed, they are as their last foster mom described them: “elegant,” more reserved and less rambunctious than most kittens. Well, except maybe for Rose, who is always in motion (it was hard to get a clear picture of her).

Rose, the extrovert, weren’t so sure ‘bout being held at first, but purred the second time I caught her and loved on her a little. She is the biggest of the babies, in the middle of everything, and would be a great cat for a home with kids and even dogs. Just not Daisy ...

Blanche, the introvert and tiniest, was a little hard to snare but then was quite passive and agreeable about being held. She looks like she went through the wildfires that were raging about the time she was born, mostly a smoky gray, with a sweet, sweet face (they all have lovely faces). We currently have her in a large crate so we can handle her more easily--and more often. Without her sisters pushing in front of her, she's already becoming more confident.

In between is Dorothy, the one who looks the most like Sophia (but lighter—gray and peach). She’s braver than Blanche, but shyer than Rose, and often follows her mama around. Once I catch her, she’s fine with being handled (and after a couple of days, she's easy to scoop up). Technically, she’s the one we are supposed to adopt, but we can change that, depending on how they do with Daisy (I'm not worried about the rest of our pets) in a few days. We shall see.

On Saturday afternoon, after plying them with tiny bits of freeze-dried chicken, I had all four kitties purring—even tiny Blanche, and even while I held her! Then I picked up Dorothy as well, and got happy in stereo. Tiny Sophia seems content, almost relieved, to let someone else watch over her babies. She will lie down beside me, roll on her side and just purr.

We got the girls on Friday; our younger son came home for Thanksgiving on Sunday. Ben is a whisperer--doesn't matter what kind of animal, he has "the touch." Within minutes of moving back into his room (God bless him, he's being very nice about sleeping in a cattery), he he was surrounded by kitties, and minutes later had Sophia lying on his stomach, purring. So not fair ...

So, with the holidays upon us, with a house and yard to get ready to sell and a camper to get ready to live in by spring, we have added another challenge. We will be fostering these girls until they all have homes, whether with us or someone else, because multiple transitions are the last thing they need. But we are all about second chances, and Sophia and her sweet babies deserve every chance they can get.

I just hope, with all my heart, that Daisy agrees …

We have so much to be thankful for, so many blessings, and are grateful to have a chance like this to give back--especially in this season. We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, and safe travels if you're going anywhere. God bless.

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