Fridays with Abbey

As a new resident to Laguna Beach back in 2004, I would often do a double take whenever I drove past a little blue and white cottage nestled at the base of the Canyon. Winding my way along Laguna Canyon Road, I would slow down to catch a glimpse of cats lounging by the windows or roaming the enclosed patio. A sign by the side of the road read: The Blue Bell Foundation for Cats. Was it a home for wayward cats—or even better, a home for crazy cat ladies and their cats?

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Fast forward to 2013 after my cat lady curiosity got the best of me, I took a tour of the cat cottage and learned that Blue Bell is a sanctuary for cats whose human companions can no longer care for them, such as when they pass away, a common circumstance for most of the kitties who come to live there. After my tour and spending time with Trixie, Domino and Teddy, a few among the 50 feline residents, I completed a volunteer application.

On my first day as a cat cuddler, I went into the small kitchen off the foyer to wash my hands when a gray ball of fluff standing by my feet caught my attention. I looked down to see giant yellow eyes gazing up at me through pastel gray and peach toned fur. A silent meow came out of her mouth as though she wanted to say, “Welcome!” but it didn’t quite make it past her whiskers.

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“This is Abbey,” said Stephanie, the cat caregiver as she picked up Abbey and gently handed her to me. Abbey snuggled into the crook of my neck, resting her paws on my shoulder. I was instantly smitten with what appeared to be a kitten, although Abbey was not a youngster at the age of 19.

Every Friday that I spent time with Abbey I became more enamored. How could I not fall for a sweet-faced Persian who purposefully marched over to the glass door separating the foyer from the main room when she saw me arrive? I couldn’t complete the sign-in sheet fast enough. Abbey would paw at the door until I opened it then greeted me with a soft, raspy meow. I would tell her about my week as I carried her around. I would eventually put her down so I could visit with the others, but got “evil eye” from Abbey across the room until I walked back over to sit next to her. She would settle in next to me, content to have me all to herself once again.

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One day I had to be on a conference call with a client during the same time as my volunteer shift. I had two choices: a) not go to Blue Bell, or, b) go, and take my work with me.   Of course, I opted for the latter. Abbey, I learned that day was quite industrious as she assisted me in organizing my notes after the call.

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About two years into my volunteer gig, Abbey’s health began to decline and she required more veterinary care. She would bounce back, yet I could see her slowing down. One particular visit I helped the cat caretaker shave a small matt off of Abbey’s tummy, which she tolerated with stoic patience. After we were done, I kissed Abbey’s head, and said good-bye.

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That was the last time I saw Abbey. The following Friday morning, her time had come to leave us.

I have new feline friends at Blue Bell and adore them all. But, as with certain people, we make special, strong connections with certain animals. Among the strongest of my animal connections was with Abbey.

In memory of Abbey, 1994 – May 29, 2015

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Posted in Animal Sanctuary, Cat Behavior, Cat Love, Cat Sanctuary, Senior Cats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

I Have Cats…Not Kids

After a guest spot on Laguna’s very own radio station, KX93.5 yesterday morning during which I educated listeners about our local cat sanctuary, the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, I went to the Farmer’s Market to buy some fresh flowers. The vendor thanked me and cheerfully said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I could have informed her that I don’t have any children, which I’ve done before in response to Mother’s Day well wishes from strangers. Rather, I smiled and said, “Thank you—you too!”

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I chose cats over kids. It wasn’t a conscious decision; I just never had the kid calling when I was in my 20s, when most women want to have babies. It hit me when I was about 38 and with a boyfriend who didn’t want children. I had two cats at the time, Punkie and Frankie and reasoned that they satisfied my later-in-life calling to have babies.

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That worked until we broke-up about four years later, leaving me single, in my early 40s and the yearning to have a baby came back. I entertained adoption…for about five minutes. A single woman working a paralegal job with long hours taking on a baby…I looked at Punkie and Frankie and thought, I have children. They were furry, had tails and said “meow” instead of “mommy” but they needed my love, attention and care; and I found great reward in providing all that to them. And in return, I received unconditional love, joy, and had a sense of duty that a mom of a human baby might have. I realized I was okay without kids. I had a full and rewarding life and I would use my caretaking “mommy” skills on cats and the kids in my life that weren’t mine.

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I no longer feel compelled to clarify to strangers that I do not have children, because I do.

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Happy Mother’s Day to moms of kids–and kids of a furry kind!

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Posted in Animal Sanctuary, Cat Lady, Cats, Cats Adopt Us, Laguna Beach, Mother's Day, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Topper Tuesday!

While most of the cool cats in town are out eating bargain tacos on this Taco Tuesday, this cat lady is drained after a long day of pushin’ paper, so I’m going to make my own homespun tacos. I was hoping Topper might keep me company in the kitchen, but no…he’s found a relaxing spot away from it all in my new place for towels.

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Towel Tuesday.

Posted in Cat Behavior, Cat Lady, Cats, Cats' Hiding Places, Domestic Cats, Relaxing with Cats, Social Species, Taco Tuesday, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments