It's no secret at all that I'm completely devastated, wracked with pain and guilt that my usually formidable willpower couldn't stave off this horrible change. I've never experienced this depth of grief or disappointment, of shattered dreams, of misery and wretchedness, heartbreak to the core. Who knew this level of pain was even possible (except for the death of a child)...yet it's all around. So many single women I've talked to understand and have experienced how truly, utterly awful this change is, and are very forthcoming with their sympathy and understanding. I have new respect for them and their composure, and take great comfort in their support and success.
My job has been a tremendous comfort and it's going well, but when I'm not working, I search for solace in small ways....and one of those ways was to go forward with something I'd been wanting to do for a long long time, but had hesitated given the pending changes. And that is: getting some pets! My poor children have never had pets -- and they're not getting any younger!
Though at heart I'm a dog person, I can't consider a dog as long as no one's home all day, not yet. So I consulted mom-friends about a cat, and decided it was do-able. A stretch, but alas, every day right now is uncharted territory, so it's just as well.
I quickly found a local cat-rescue Web site, and looked for an adult cat who was known to be good with kids. An email exchange with the woman who runs the rescue resulted in a decision to see the kitty-options sans kids first, since it'd be easier to make a decision that way. Indeed, the boys were fighting over the kitty-photos just on the Web site, I can't imagine them in an adoption center!
Though I was intrigued by the fabulous face of one particular female adult, this rescue organization prefers to adopt out cats in pairs if the kitties already know each other. So somehow, I went from just asking how the adoption works and inquiring about one cat, to a few days later meeting the cats -- and adopting two on the spot! TWO!
Tempted as I was, a little sense prevailed, and I didn't bring them home the same day I adopted them. I wanted to prepare the house a little, and have some time alone with them before the onslaught of children. The days dragged, but finally the Friday afternoon that I was to pick up our new family members arrived, and I drove with terrific anticipation to Redwood City to fetch our new friends.
So, please welcome, Vanilla and Zavala, mother and son respectively, to our home!
"Vanilla" is the mother on the left with the fantastic mustache markings, a mere 6-12 months older than the son, "Zavala," who is more black but also with white markings. Zavala is about a year old, and has belonged to this rescue organization since he was a kitten; Vanilla was found when she had a litter (I believe), which included Zavala and a few others that had already been adopted out.
They were described as "Maine Coon / Tuxedo" cats, but I'm not sure what makes them Maine Coon, or what Tuxedo means? They look to me like long-ish-haired black-and-white cats, but I guess that's not all that common.
This rescue organization is terrific, the rescue lady gave me all sorts of useful suggestions on things to get (and not get), with regards to food, kitty litter, brushing, the works. They'd already been spayed and neutered, had all their shots, and are microchipped.
Once I brought them home, I found right away that Zavala, the younger male, was nothing like he was in the cat-adoption room. There, he'd been shy and hid a lot, but at home, he wasted no time in approaching me almost aggressively for affection. Within minutes, both of them were purring madly and almost competing for my attention. These two hadn't been caged, they'd been in a kitty-adoption room and regularly socialized and brushed, as well as fostered in a home for a while.
We spent the weekend getting used to each other, and became firm friends. To my delight, I love that Zavala sleeps with me all night, and doesn't keep me awake --except for rousing me occasionally with purring, which I don't mind at all.
So the next thing was to introduce the kids! Dave kindly agreed to let me take the kids a day early, and I'm grateful because meeting the new cats on a Monday school-night, homework-night and report-due night would have been a mess. (I also had another new surprise for them hidden in the garage, it just happened to work out that way, but they weren't nearly as interested in our new (used) foosball table as they were in the new cats.)
The kids were thrilled! Too thrilled -- poor Vanilla was terrified by their enthusiasm, and hid and hissed right away. I warned the kids to back off and let her come to them. Zavala wasn't in the slightest intimidated, and right away delighted the kids with his antics chasing a fishing-pole toy.
The rescue lady had suggested I keep the cats in one room to start, and this proved to be a great idea on several counts. Not only does this give the cats some time to adjust -- and not get lost in the house -- but it also means I can shut the kids out. They were clearly overloaded (kids and cats) on the first meeting, so I was glad to have a door inbetween.
Later, Gabriel went back into the room alone, and quietly offered Vanilla a treat of wet food. In no time he was able to draw her out, to his delight. She's shyer, but comes right up to you and purrs and asks to be scratched -- until her possessive son shows up and shoves her out of the way!
The second night with the cats, everyone was more comfortable. By now, we'd decided to rename Zavala to "Zorro," and Vanilla has the more awkward name "Meow-stache," given her fabulous goatee markings.
She sort-of has a freaked-out look about her, doesn't she? Not all the time, but she's definitely shyer and more nervous than her very relaxed son. His furry white chest gives him a bit of a lion-look.
Make no mistake: Meow-stache and Zorro are my cats -- but I'm quite happy to share!!