Daydream Kitty

Bouncing back from my post-surgery chemo treatment in early March was tougher than anticipated.  My body’s constitution had been weakened from surgery and was still recovering, so adding chemo to that caused the fatigue, weakness and GI distress to drag on longer.  Yet, I was recovering from the loss of Bobcat—still missing him—but the heaviness in the atmosphere around me and in my heart had lifted.  I started daydreaming about having a kitty and thought that having a girl again would be nice.  I’d not had a feline gal pal since Bella died in 2012.

Miss Bella

Miss Bella

One particular image in my daydreams became more frequent; that of me holding a young female feline with fluffy cream and peach-toned fur.  This visual worked its way into my mind at night, as I would fall into a twilight zone before falling into a deep sleep.  And actually, this image started popping into my mind shortly before Bobcat passed; yet I dismissed it.  But now I started to pay attention.  Could this picture in my mind be a sign of what was to come?  I imagined living life alongside a feline companion again. I started visualizing the kitty in my daydreams snuggling next to me on the sofa and thought about what I would name her.

On a recent Saturday morning after scrolling through Instagram, I texted a friend, Ann Marie, asking about something she’d posted.  I also gave her a heads-up that I was in the market for adopting a kitty, as she volunteers at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter.  Three days later, Ann Marie sent me a text telling me that she’d met “Annie” on Saturday (the same day we texted) and if I liked Persians, I’d love her.  She included a link to the online news publication, Stu News Laguna, where Annie was featured as the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter’s  “Pet-of-the-Week.”  My heart started racing and I had that feeling in my gut that you get when something big is about to happen.  I clicked onto the link, and the photo of Annie made my jaw drop.  There she was…the cat of my daydreams.  This is my kitty! My girl! I said out loud as tears streamed down my cheeks.  I’ve been extra emotional since the cancer journey began, but this emotive visceral reaction was coming from my knowing that Annie was The One.

Daydream Kitty

I met Annie at the shelter the following day. At one point during my visit with her after taking a break from tossing cat toys and watching her enthusiastically bat them around, I sat on a towel placed on the floor and motioned for Annie to sit next to me.  She pranced over and sat close to my hand that was resting on the towel in the space next to me.  Annie then carefully placed her paw on top of my hand and held it there as she looked up at me.  I melted.  A volunteer asked me what I thought of Annie.  My reply: “I’m in love.  If you approve my application, I want her.”  My application passed the shelter’s scrutiny with flying colors.

Annie saying good-bye to me after we first met. We did the slow blink with each other for several minutes.

Annie was recovering from bladder stone surgery and couldn’t be released until the following week, around the time I had another chemo scheduled.  The shelter kept Annie until I was able to sign the adoption agreement and take her home, and in the meanwhile, I was able to visit her.

On April 2nd the adoption became official and I brought Annie home with me.  I re-named this elegant, playful and affectionate kitty of my daydreams Samantha.  And that day she settled into her new life with a new name and her new mama in a cottage by the sea as though she’d been with me forever.

Samantha on the sofa next to me at the end of our big Adoption Day.

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Eight Days and Nine Nights of Sunshine

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling ready to invite a new kitty into my life, which has caused me to reflect on an adoption attempt I made last spring.

By June of 2020, Bobcat had gained weight and became diabetic since his best friend Lexington passed in December of 2019. He was still affectionate and attentive towards me, yet seemed so sad.  I came to the conclusion that a new friend; specifically a girlfriend would be good medicine for Bobcat.

I began my search spending several weeks of reviewing cat bios on Petfinder, finding only two prospectives.  After no response to my inquiries from the shelters, I moved on. Another cat of interest was at a shelter run by just one woman who did call me back, sounding out of breath saying that she had too much going on, but she would call me back at 7:00 that evening.  She never did.  Trying to find a girlfriend for Bobcat was becoming as arduous as online dating.

After a two-week break I got back on rescue websites to give it another shot.  Within an hour I found two prospective girlfriends for Bobcat and got a call back from the director of the rescue group. The two cats in question had already been adopted, but she invited me to a PetSmart adoption event happening that weekend.

Me: Bobcat, I’m off to PetSmart to find you a girlfriend! Bobcat: A what?…

I arrived at the PetSmart adoption center on Saturday morning and immediately noticed a pretty two-year-old girl named Sunshine.  Her bio stated that she was sweet and sociable. Perfect.  Sunshine bonded with me instantly, and I adopted her on the spot.

Sunshine, photo courtesy of Susan Brown Matsumoto Photography

On the drive home I began to feel apprehensive.  While Sunshine seemed like a good fit for Bobcat, She did not tug at my heartstrings.  I suddenly felt I’d made a hasty decision, made in the moment out of tiring of the selection process, and just wanting Bobcat to have a friend.  In the past, I always knew upon meeting my prospective new cat—sometimes just by looking at the photo that he or she was the one.  Yet, I’d “sleep on it” before making my final decision to adopt.  If I woke-up the day after meeting the potential adoptee with the same excitement I had upon our meeting, I scheduled another visit.  If the same warm-fuzzy feelings filled my heart during the second visit, I’d adopt. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that apprehension was my intuition giving me a warning, just the same as the strong “knowing” I’ve had when the right cat came along.

Sunshine was sweet and sociable and was also pure alpha—domineering, aggressive and possessive of me. In my attempts to bring the cats into each other’s space I broke up two catfights, one that landed me in urgent care with serious cat scratches and another with Bobcat at the vet for a scratched eyelid.  Bobcat became withdrawn and spent lots of time hiding.

Is she gone yet?

The circumstance had become unhealthy and very stressful for everyone involved, so I relinquished Sunshine to the shelter.  She was a wonderful cat, but not for us.  Once she was gone, Bobcat and I rekindled our love and life was peaceful again.

Ahhh, I’m in the clear, she’s outta here!

In retrospect, I realized that Bobcat just needed more time to grieve, not a stranger invading our space and our one-on-one time together.

I felt horrible having to return Sunshine and guilty that I added more stress to her life.  I wished I’d been more discerning, but I couldn’t go back and undo the situation.  I found solace when I heard that she was adopted a couple of weeks later, and was reminded to always listen to my internal insight.

Let’s see whom my intuition will lead me to this time around…stay tuned!

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Recovering Without Bobcat

Dealing with cancer without my feline companion/nursemaid has been more challenging than I expected.  I had surgery on February 1st, which was supposed to be a full hysterectomy and the removal of a cancerous lymph node, all done robotically on an outpatient basis.  My, how surgical procedures have progressed, except my surgery took an unexpected turn, and I ended up in the hospital.  Some of the cancer inside my uterus decided to take an adventure outside landing on my colon, forming a tumor that had to be removed. Rather than getting home around 5:00 p.m. that day, I awoke to my surgeon telling me I was in the hospital, and would be there for about a week.  Excuse me…WHAT?

The next day while lying in the hospital bed and staring at the ceiling, memories of Bobcat’s antics and his healing ways went running through my mind like a vivid slide show. Images of his frequent concerned stares at me in my exhausted state of being haunted me.  I cried knowing I’d be going home to an empty cottage.  But realized that if Bobcat were home, he would be all alone, wondering what happened to me, and in my post-surgery daze, I would’ve had to figure out who could take care of him.  There’s no good time to say goodbye to a beloved, but maybe the timing of Bobcat’s passing was actually good.  Or was it?

My initial recovery went much quicker than my doctor anticipated.  I was released from the hospital after only two and a half days.  The weeks following were filled with lots of reading and bird watching out the French windows while resting on the sofa.  I also did some writing, binged-watched my current favorite TV shows, When Calls the Heart and Heartland, and started taking walks around the neighborhood.  The pain was manageable with Tylenol, the fatigue with lots of rest, but the loneliness was incurable. I wasn’t sleeping well at night and waking up at 2:00 a.m. without Bobcat to talk to and snuggle created an immense emptiness for which there was no remedy.

I’ve taken to spending probably too much time on Instagram watching cute cat videos, but it’s helping me get my feline fix; a little anyway.  I started following the “cutest goat”, which, well, who can’t be uplifted by a spirited baby goat leaping, jumping and head butting with his pals?  A friend and fellow Blue Bell Foundation volunteer gave me a kitty stuffed animal.  I named him Bobcat and he hangs out with me on the sofa, but sometimes prefers the vintage chair.  I’ve learned that one is never to old to snuggle with a stuffed animal.  It’s been very comforting—thank you, Lynette!

These are Laguna’s fire mitigation goats and in this location are a hike from the cottage. The spotted baby goat leapt over the little white one. Easter 2019.

Today marks the two-month anniversary of Bobcat’s passing.  I miss him every day and every night, but I’m not quite so sad.  Some loneliness still lingers, and I suppose it will probably hang around as long as I am a cat lady with no cats, but I don’t think I can go too much longer without hearing the pitter-patter of paws on the hardwood floor.

Who knows what spring will bring…

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