I’m going to let you in on a little secret about my life: It’s remarkably….unremarkable. Hence, I present unto you the story of how I adopted a permanent pain in my ass. Well, at least for the next 11 years or so. How long do cats live again? 15 years? Sheesh. I was unaware of that statistic when this whole scene went down. To which I only have one thing to say:
It was February. Wait, was it? Well, it was definitely 2009 and I can assure you on this particular day, I was in a furious mood. There’s something about getting broken up with in a work email on a Friday a month before your boyfriend (of whom you’ve been dating for over a year) returns from his 9-month tour in Iraq that just brings out the lividness in a girl. Who knew?
In my 25 years of existence, I should have realized right then and there that under extreme circumstances, I become what some call “impulsive.” Once an idea is in my head, that’s it. It’s happening. And whoever’s nearby can bet their ass they’re coming along for the ride.
This form of reckless abandon has caused me to dance atop many a bar, buy a pet leopard gecko (Sadly, Stewie didn’t make it through the winter…), hop apartment fences for late night swimming and partake in what I can assure you was an obscene amount of shopping. Who needs Ben & Jerry’s when the new spring shoe line just came out?
In this case, however, it was the adoption of a kitten that enabled me to put the “rash” in “irrational decision-making.” Of course, at the time I thought my reasoning was both solid and substantial: If he doesn’t love me, I’m going to find something that does!
Right. Because when I think unconditional love, I think cats. Ironic foreshadowing #1.
The search began on the Internet as I sorted through nearby humane societies site by site. And then, there she was – the ONE, and I knew it immediately. Pancakes. A calico kitty, whom, because on her adorable photo, was already tugging at my own heart. “Save me!” shouted her wistful, amber-colored eyes.
I should point out that I’ve forever had a love affair with animals named after breakfast foods since the airing of one particular The O.C. episode. Summer Roberts, a prima donna turned hippie in the fourth season of the show, steals rabbits from her college’s lab in an effort to save them from probable harmless experimentation. She keeps just one rabbit for herself: a floppy-eared bunny named Pancakes.
So, it was settled – I would go to Lincoln over the weekend, visit some friends and then pick up Pancakes on Sunday before returning home. I was super pumped. Ironic foreshadowing #2.
Sunday came quickly, and over the weekend, I had also convinced some friends to come along with me to the humane society. A woman directed us to the cat section as we entered, and I anxiously looked for Pancakes, scared she had already been adopted by another fellow breakfast pet name lover. But there, hovering (quite menacing, now that I think about it – but maybe that’s just my overactive imagination) in a dark corner of her cage, were tufts of orange, yellow and white fur.
“I’d like to see Pancakes!” I said excitedly, and the worker carefully took her out of her cage so I could play and bond with the cat.
But no. This couldn’t be Pancakes.
This must be some kind of mistake, I thought, my heart sinking in my stomach.
Pancakes was, for lack of better words…past her prime.
“She’s been sick lately, and all of her meds are causing her to lose her fur,” commented the worker sympathetically.
I recoiled in horror.
“Go ahead and pet her though. But be careful – her meds also make her pretty cranky,” the worker added. “She actually bites quite a lot.”
Oh, GOD, no.
No, no, no. I don’t want to pet this hideous beast. But…I have to. I can’t have them thinking I’m only into healthy, pouncey, adorable kittens. What kind of owner would I be?! Wow, that fur just comes right off…
A war waged in my thoughts.
I gave the cat a few half-hearted pats before instantly becoming distracted with the other, ANY OTHER, kitten in the room.
Pancakes was put back into her cage, to die another day. If not that day. Oh, come on. We were all thinking it.
“What about that one?” my friend Christy asked as she pointed to a lively ball of gray and orange fur.
“Chloe? She’s a dear – very active,” the worker said with a knowing smile.
As I held the new kitten in my hands, it was love at first sight as she playfully pounced into my Coach bag. This time my thoughts squealed happily, OMG!!! She has amazing taste!
“I’ll take her!” I exclaimed, heaving a sigh of relief. Ironic foreshadowing #3.
So, we sat down to business. Halfway through the paperwork, it became clear that if you live in an apartment complex, in order to adopt an animal from the shelter, you must have permission from the apartment owners. I called and from the other side of the line, heard a resounding, “No.”
And that was that. But if you know me, you’ll know that it WASN’T that. I was walking out with a cat, dammit. Broken up with on a FRIDAY. AT WORK. Didn’t anyone understand!?
My friends and I left the shelter to grab lunch.
“Jared, adopt the cat for me,” I said immediately once we were seated for lunch at Bisonwitches (shameless plug for the best sandwiches in the world).
Easy enough. Except that his landowner also needed to sign off, and upon Jared calling, said he would be stopping by later that day to collect the extra rent money for having a cat in the apartment.
Jared silently held up his hands in defeat and I marveled over the irony that this moment was one of the few I saw value in my married friends growing up and buying big kid houses. I called up my friend Phil, proud homeowner for years.
“Sigh. You know I’m super allergic to cats, right? I can’t even be near them, they puff up my eyes and make me itchy,” he said unconvincingly. Which is why, to this day, Philip T. remains one of my favorite people in the world.
“Just try not to pet it too much and say you want it right away,” I said. “It won’t be obvious at all.”
We trooped back to the shelter.
“Phil,” I said in a overly-rehearsed, excited voice, “you should TOTALLY adopt this cat. Isn’t she just adorable?!?”
Christy, Jared and Phil nodded their heads obediently in agreement.
“Lovely,” he said with a grimace before forcing a smile. I liken his attempt to pat Chloe to mine in petting Pancakes. “I must have her!”
As he filled out the paperwork, the worker handed him a variety of cat information to take home. When she wasn’t looking, he held them toward me so I could either approve or disapprove his selections.
“Obviously, you’ll want this list of in-town vets so you can license Chloe,” the worker said, handing him a sheet.
Our eyes met. I shook my head.
“Nope, already have a vet,” Phil said.
“Then here are some treats, and you’ll want to pick out a collar for her,” the worker said, handing him a variety of colorful collars.
Pick purple, I screamed at him silently, as his hand rested atop the red collar. He looked at me. Purple, I mouthed. He smirked and picked red. Asssss, I thought.
“She’s very good with dogs,” the worker said, as Chloe proceeded to scratch the living hell out of a coworker’s arms as she led a dog past us.
“I see that,” Phil said, stifling laughter. Punk, I thought.
We made it two steps out the front door before Phil handed her off to me and we walked to our separate cars in clear view of the receptionist.
“Thanks, Philip T.!” I yelled, and he aimlessly waved back without turning around.
On the hour and a half car ride home, my sinuses became congested and my eyes scratchy. For, as I was well aware at the start of this adventure, I am deathly allergic to cats. Ironic foresha…aw, you get it.
The entire way home, that damn cat meowed like her life was over. So, like any new pet owner would do, I turned the music up higher to bask in the horrible mistake I had just made. This is how I know I should never have children.
To this day, Phil tells me stories about the letters he receives from the shelter asking him about his satisfaction with the cat, as well as how he is getting along.
“I finally told them that I lost her, and she took off in the direction of Columbus,” he said. “It seemed true enough.”
I can honestly say that my allergies adjusted to my cuddle bug and we get along quite famously now, despite her blatant disrespect in destroying all shoestrings, tank top straps and sheets of paper I accidentally leave laying about the apartment. Her fascination to tip over anything with water and her ability to open the bathroom door while visitors are in the room are quite endearing, really. At the very least, she has a knack for falling into the running shower at least once a week that provides me endless entertainment.
But I can’t complain. Chlo sits in the sink every morning and watches as I do my hair and make-up, and feels the need to be at my side at all times. In all actuality, it’s a love story gone horribly right.