This is what you might see if you sit on the floor of one of the “visiting rooms” at Lollypop Farm when you are trying to catch a four month old, black, male kitten on film. There’s not much to look at, is there?
And, that’s the point.
What he looks like isn’t important. What he’s like is.
Here’s what I knew before I even laid eyes on him:
1. He would be between the ages of 2-4 months
2. He would be any combination of friendly, easy-going and he’d like to be around people.
3. He’d be confident.
4. He would NOT be a brown tabby color.
This last requirement was my only color restriction as William, one of our cats, had died the day before my son and I went out to Lollypop. He was hooked up to IV fluids at the vet’s office for what was supposed to have been a three day hospital stay. He was really sick.
William was a brown tabby cat. Six years ago, he was born in a barn down near Naples and when he was eight weeks old, he came to live with us. He was only six years old when he died.
The week before I took him to the vet’s, he’d been off his food for about three/four days. Almost as if someone had flipped a light switch, he went from being his inquisitive, somewhat prickly self to limp, rag doll lethargy… which was when I got him to the vet’s.
Blood work revealed a liver count that was “off the charts” — my vet had never seen numbers that high. Which strongly suggested several things – none of them good. The IV flush was supposed to be done over a three day hospitable stay and was the least invasive way to give William a fighting chance.
In the end, he was just too sick. Friday morning (7:15AM), my vet called to tell me that William had died.
Not having any other way to explain his death to my animal household, I asked my vet if I could have the towel that was William’s bed … the towel that had been underneath him when he died.
Animals know what death smells like. All I had to do was bring the towel home, drop it on the floor, and let them sniff it. The process takes less than 10 seconds; although it can take longer.
I wanted this for Mack, our three year old, orange and white tabby cat more than I wanted this for our three dogs. Mack came into our house when he was a baby (between the ages of 2- 4 months) to be a friend to William.
Mack’s a sociable cat. He really likes people and he likes other cats.
More so than my dogs, Mack spent the longest time sniffing that towel.
If you’ve never lived with multiple cats and/or dogs, this next part might be hard for you to understand. So, think about what it’s like when your human family gets together for a party: all of the brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles; cousins. Now, take one family member away … forever.
You can feel their absence, can’t you?
It’s much the same with the death of an animal that’s been a part of your family.
Human, canine or feline … rabbit, horse or any species of animal that you love. When they die, we literally “bump into those empty spaces.”
There’s a lot of speculation about animals and grief. Do dogs and cats grieve the way that humans grieve? They certainly can’t put their grief into words, but I do believe that they bump into those empty spaces and feel absence. In their own way, they feel that.
Mack was definitely bumping into those empty spaces.
Part of Friday night’s dinner conversation went like this:
I said: We’re thinking about going to Lollypop Farm tomorrow to look at the kittens.
He said: What if we wait until after our vacation?
I said: But, that’s two months from now. Mack’s not going to like being in the house all by himself; and Lollypop’s $5.00 sale on cats ends on Sunday.
He said: Ah.
The fact that we could adopt a kitten for only five dollars was a nice incentive. But, it was more the icing on the cake … We would have gone out to Lollypop Farm regardless of that sale.
Which brings me back to my “shopping list.” We knew we had to narrow our list of what we could bring home to what would be a good fit for the dogs and
now one cat living with us.
My son and I got to Lollypop Farm before 11AM on Saturday. We didn’t stop to look at any of the available cats for adoption. Instead, we waited a short time until one of the volunteers behind the adoption reception center was free to speak with us. I gave her our list of requirements. More than anything else, we wanted a kitten that would fit into our existing animal family.
The volunteer paged through a huge, 3 ringed binder of available cats. After pulling three sets of cat profiles from that notebook, she handed us some paperwork to fill out, telling us that she had three possible kittens we could look at. When I’d completed the paperwork and handed the form back to her, she asked us to wait we until a volunteer cat person could review our paperwork and meet with us.
Here’s the most important thing: we knew it was critical to rely on the experience and knowledge of the cat people at Lollypop Farm to do the initial screening for us. Let’s face it, any kitten is beyond cute; and some kittens are beautifully marked. Like the male, red tabby that we played with.
And didn’t bring home.
The kitten we did bring home is the one you can’t quite see in the photo at the beginning of this post. Here’s what he looked like as he checked out his ride home:
Thanks to the work of some of the cat volunteers, he didn’t leave Lollypop Farm empty handed. That brown blanket with the cat paw decorations was created by a volunteer. The stuffed animal and the cat toy? The stuffed animal went into his crate for comfort when he was moved to the cattery where he’d be seen by prospective adopters. And, what kitten doesn’t need a toy?
And, with all of the paperwork he came with, he could easily write a best selling novel!
We owe a huge thank you to the volunteer adoption counselor who worked with us on Saturday; she was sympathetic when we told her about William and she understood why we wanted to bring a kitten home. She didn’t ask if we were making a hasty decision given the fact that we’d just lost William. She let our history of having cats speak for itself.
She took our list of requirements seriously and helped us choose the perfect kitten.
The day William died, I found this quote online:
Our animals shepherd us through certain areas of our lives. When we are ready to turn the corner and make it on our own… they let us go. ~Author unknown
William came into our lives for a special purpose that isn’t diminished in any way because we chose to bring a kitten home so soon after his death. We made a decision that was right for us … and were wonderfully supported in this by the caring volunteers at Lollypop Farm.