Falling in Love
ice cold lemonade,” they sang almost in unison, a tow-haired boy
of 9 and a red-headed bespectacled girl of 7. It was 85 degrees
and as I breezed by on my trusty Trek, I sighed to myself,
“Ah-h-h, at least some things never change.”
Then a man in a big black truck pulled up to the stand and I
nearly had a myocardial infarction when the little boy said,
“That’ll be one dollar.”
So I rolled up and said, “Isn’t one dollar a bit steep? When I
was a kid (oh boy!) it was five cents.”
The girl looked sheepish but the boy boldly countered, “Do you
know how much a bag of lemons costs nowadays?”
These kids have more business acumen than most adults.
So, I shook my head at the budding entrepreneurs and continued
on in my reverie. Bliss, in fact. And here’s why.
I’m in love again. And it’s a triage: Tabitha, Purrsnikitty and
Here’s how it happened…
As some of you may have read, I lost the love of my life,
Truffle, two months ago, and was feeling like a penny waiting
for change. All my friends were suggesting I get another cat. I
was appalled. How could I possibly replace him? Animals aren’t
objects that break and you buy a new one. No other cat is going
to fetch, let me vacuum him, trot about like a thoroughbred or
jump into a full bathtub pretending to have slipped but enjoying
No way, maybe not for another year. I needed my calendar open
for all the speaking engagements I intend to make with my book
So, I went on a superb vacation, came home to the emptiest house
on earth, and had a dream. In it, I was adopting a stray
buff-colored cat and my heart was open as a barn door.
I awoke with the resolve that I would go down to Posh Pets in
Pacific Grove, where Animal Friends Rescue Project houses dozens
of adoptable cats they have skimmed from local shelters, and if
I saw a buff-colored one, it was a sign.
Well, I looked them over carefully and the closest things to
buff were these two ordinary tabby kittens snoozing in each
Of course, I played with every cat there because my heart aches
to see them caged. They are well cared for; clean and loving
volunteers visit them. But, hey, it’s still prison.
After a “born free” moment, in which I envisioned myself freeing
all the animals from their cages, I tucked my codependence in
and went home, determined to keep an open heart and trust that
I’d know if - and when - my next angel would appear.
But the vision of those striped kitties, snoozing so compatibly,
haunted me. I should have known I was already hooked when I lay
in bed thinking up new names for them (“Cherub” and “Cheeba” -
listed on their bios - had to go.)
The next day, I decided to take another look. The card on their
cage said they were sisters, about 9 weeks old, already spayed,
micro-chipped, and vaccinated. This was good news, except that
when I took them from their cage and turned them upside down, I
swore I saw the triad of dots that represent male hardware, and
I wanted no more potential sprayers.
The store owner actually found their hysterectomy marks (a very
neat job) and so I put them on the floor and the dozing little
wonders began catapulting through the air. So much for
quiescence. I petted them, retuned them to incarceration, took a
walk on the beach and cried. I missed my Truffle.
Torn, the next day I decided to go to the SPCA of Monterey
County to find a prettier pair of females. Tabby was too generic
and I wanted long hairs. I mean, cats are works of art – why
settle for plain when I could have another Monet, Matisse or
It must have been 100 degrees at the shelter that day and the
air conditioning had broken. Before visiting the cats, I walked
the rows of panting dogs, beaming love to each one as my heart
was breaking. Volunteers were hosing down their cages and even
giving them frozen dog treats, but the heat was stultifying.
Meanwhile, in the cat room, huge fans were keeping the area
under control, and an affable volunteer was attending the cages
bursting with kittens and cats. I was heartened to see that
several kittens were grouped together in the clean cages, but
after scanning them all, I saw no pair of sisters.
There was, however, this one gorgeous long-haired calico kitten
that was frantically crawling the bars and crying, “Lemme outa
here, I belong with people – not cats!” I know because the
second I picked her up, she started purring.
It took courage, but I decided, “No, I want sisters.” Then I
went to my car, sobbed, thanked God for the true heroes in this
world: the courageous and compassionate volunteers and employees
who care for animals who are abandoned mostly because misguided
owners: (a) think letting your pet have a litter or two is a
good thing (not!) (b) have no money to spay or neuter (there are
free services) or (c) have never had the guts to go to the
animal shelters and see what their negligence produces.
I had a good long cry and drove directly back to Posh Pets to
adopt Purr and Tabby . . .
Man, was I in for some lessons. Brooke Shields has nothing on
me. Hormones may have something to do with it, but I contend
that post partum depression is mostly a new mother’s sleep
deprivation. This I have in spades. It’s been a week now and I
haven’t slept more than a wink since I brought my duo home.
The first day was heavenly, as I rolled on the floor getting to
know my little critters. So alike, yet so apart. Tabitha, the
ultimate in feline femininity; and Purrsnikitty, male-like with
dark leopard spots, a more triangular face, huge pointed ears
and a constant expression of surprise. She has learned to
straddle a two-foot plastic wand, with the feathered end in her
mouth, and trot through the house with Tabby in hot pursuit.
Then Tabby lies down, exposing her golden squirrel belly, and
lets the leopard leap on her, pinning her until she reverses the
game and becomes the dominatrix.
Then they had their first visit to the vets, which was included
in their adoption fee (a number of local veterinarians, bless
their hearts, do volunteer work and follow-up for strays). I
like this savior and so do the kitties, who check out A-OK.
We returned home to an evening “runabout” during which my girls
made mincemeat of my orderly house, bounced off the furniture
and walls, and scared the wits out of each other, producing
Halloween arched backs and fur on end.
My fur was on end after that, and I doubted that sleep would
come easily. But still, after their acrocat antics, they only
gave rare voices – more a chirring trill than meows. In fact,
Tabby still mouths a silent mai-ow.
Then it happened: Purr, for no conceivable reason, started
limping. I, still suffering post traumatic stress syndrome and
hypervigilance from the loss of Truffle, went ballistic and
called the vet at 8:30 p.m. “My kitty is limping, he has
sarcoma, AIDS, leukemia, deformed bones – I KNOW IT!!!”
The vet kindly assured me that it’s common for kittens to sprain
themselves while going berserk, and by the time I took her in
the next morning, she was walking almost normally.
All is well that ends well, but the saga continues . . . A few
days later, Purr starts sneezing. I am told it could be
allergies (who knows, maybe my gnawed-on table orchids?) or a
I, inconsolable, called every friend who will listen, and one of
the wise-acres says, “Go directly to the store, do not pass go,
do not collect $200, and buy the book ‘Kittens for Dummies.’”
The next day, Tabby was sneezing and it was heigh-ho, heigh-ho,
off to the vet’s we go.
By then, I was having a nervous breakdown from sleep deprivation
and worried and wondered if I hadn’t made a serious mistake
adopting two kittens so soon after Truffle. I mean, I learned 30
years ago from teaching school that I’m not motherhood material.
Maybe Brooke (who, by the way, I’ve talked with in person and
she is a warm compassionate person) felt the same way.
The vet (I should say “angel”) checked them out, chirring with
them and kissing their heads, and said they had the flu and why
doesn’t she take them off my hands for a few days? I conceded,
guilty to the bone that I sprang these kids and they’re now
going behind bars again. But I know this will give me some time
to get some sleep, figure out better sleeping quarters for them,
and adjust to the idea of newborns.
The tally to my pocketbook is about $600 now, which includes the
dog carrier they will sleep in at night and the fancy carpeted
cat tree they will climb on instead of my furniture during the
day (I hope).
The third day I called in for a progress report (they were to
stay five) the assistant said, “They’re really rambunctious.
They are crying for their mommy.” I was stabbed by guilt but
still ambivalent about taking home sick kitties and caring for
Today, as I write this, I await the vet’s call, after which I
intend to spring my girls from their incarceration. I miss them.
I want them. Am I ready to deal with them? I’ll let you know in
Stardust Inspiration: I will
never again be unsympathetic to the ambivalence that comes with
motherhood. Motherhood is motherhood, be it humans or fur
people, and it’s a cataclysmic and exhilarating responsibility.
A shrink once said, “If a mother told you the absolute truth,
regardless of societal ostracism, she’d admit that if she had it
to do over again, she wouldn’t have had children.” Well,
obviously this isn’t true across the board because some mothers
have 12 children. Still, it gave me paws . . .