Friday, January 11, 2013

Fabu Feline Friday

I have some context to go with this post.  But I'm not quite ready to share completely.  So I'm making it vague.  Here's what you should know:

1.  Remember when I was all "I have a job!" and then "I don't have a job!"?  The second one was a lie because I am inpatient.  I, in fact, do have a job.

2.  I am in training for a very specific thing that I am really very excited about.  There are a lot of thoughts to go along with this.  It will be an interesting post when we get there.  At least for me.

3.  I don't want to share those thoughts quite yet because I struggle to be like "oh this is my job, this is what I am" when I am still in fact training to BE that.  It kind of feels like a lie.  I have decided to wait to expand upon all that when it's actually legit and I'm actually doing that.

4.  The job is part-time.  The training is full-time plus some.  You'll have to excuse me if posts are blunt/ sparse/ late in the next few weeks.

5.  I'd like to not get fired, so let's just be super clear that my opinions are mine and not of any corporate entity.  Yes? Okay great.

6.  Biggest piece of context for today:  The above things have resulted in Mac getting a LOT of attention lately, and I am starting to notice that the eldest fur-kid is feeling a little left out and jealous.

So today I'd like to share the story of how Bubba and I came to live together, sticking together through five moves, three states and two countries.  There is a shortened version in the FAQs, but hopefully the unabridged (with pictures!) version is more interesting.


Bubba and I became an inseparable team back in 2006. I'd been living in Texas a weekor so, and while I didn't have a lot of money, I knew the college I worked for was pet friendly.  At least cat-friendly.  I considered this a bit of a bummer, because while I like cats, I am most certainly more of a dog person.  So I had shared with my supervisor at the time that I figured I would save up a bit and maybe look into a cat.  I was given less than a week after that statement was uttered before I got a call one idle Wednesday morning from my boss.  "I'm giving you the day off.  Go get a cat.  You need someone to keep you company down here, so far away from your family."  This is exactly how crazy cat ladies are born folks. 

I wanted to be rational about this.  While I was lucky that the college I was at currently was pet-friendly for their live-on staff, it is not the most common thing in the world.   In a few years when I would be expected to move on, I didn't want to pigeon-hole my options for employment.  So I walked into the shelter that day, determined to pick out the oldest, smelliest cat they had. The one that would probably die soon but that deserved some love in the meantime. No one ever picks those cats. 

The picture of the old, dirty, one-eyed cat got me choked up every time those commercials with zoom shots of abused animals in cages come on TV. You know the one - with "In the Arms of the Angel" crooning in the background and the voice over about how you can “help a critter in need by sending the humane society just thirty cents a day.”  That's the cat I wanted.

I'm so sorry.  Don't hit play.  Spare yourself.

I breathed in the powerful cat-pee and disinfectant smell that is the same in every animal shelter, pound and humane society in the world as I walked in the door, happy to know that this day I would be saving some lucky old critter from ever smelling that pungent smell again. I walked up to the front counter and asked which way to the cats, while the mandatory shelter mascot, a white cat with only three legs who is given free rein to wander anywhere in the shelter, judged me from his cat tree in the corner. He must had decided I was okay, because he jumped down and tottered over to me, rubbing up against my legs while the lady behind the front desk called over the loud speaker found someone to escort me through the facility.

A very kind gentleman in a janitor's jumpsuit lead the way to the cat room, which I felt was rather cleverly located at the end of the hallway that houses all the adoptable puppies. As we walked, I wondered how many cats missed out on homes each year because adopters had to resist the temptation of taking home fluffy little bear-shaped dogs, with tiny little tongues to wash your face and gigantic eyes pleading for you to love them as much as they will always love you. But I was 100% determined. Old grody cat. That's what I was walking out of here with today. Yessiree.

As the shelter employee held open the cat-room door for me, he sheepishly stated in his southern drawl: “Ma'am, we're not supposed to do this, but that little orange one in the corner? He's been here too long. If he's still here, after noon today we'll have to put him down to make room for others.”

I looked in the direction indicated, and my gaze was met with a pair of giant amber eyes, while an impossibly tiny orange paw struck out from the bars of his cage and pawed at the air closest to me.
dramatic reenactment.

“Wha- the orange kitten? I was really thinking I'd get an old, unloved cat. Someone's gonna adopt him, he's a cute little baby.” I had 75% resolve. I mean, there was an old disgusting cat in the next cage over. I tore my eyes from the kitten and stole a glance at it. It hissed and backed into the dark corner of its dirty litter-box. The little orange kitten climbed onto the bars of his cage, showing off his tiny cream colored belly.  Okay, 70%.  

“No one wants him 'cause he can't meow. I call him Frogger.” The worker replied, walking up to the kitten's cage and unlatching it.

“Can't meow?”

“Nope. We found him with a piece of string tied around his neck, he must've gotten tangled up from trying to get loose and had pretty much hung himself from a tree. Messed up his vocal cords pretty bad. He croaks like a frog now.” And just like he was in his very own infomercial, that little kitten looked at me and said “eurk” in demonstration, as the shelter worker took him from his cage.  

Still sounds just like this.

As the worker held the little tabby out to me, I looked at the clock. 11:30AM. So he had half an hour after I adopted a different cat for someone else to come along and give him a home. Half an hour before,... well, they probably wouldn't do it right at noon, would they? I thought that felt a little too “spaghetti western High Noon firing squad.” I was 25% determined that I getting a different, crappy, totally unlovable, evil, geriatric cat.

The kitten grabbed my arm in a tiny bear hug using two tiny pink paws, latched into the fabric of my hooded sweatshirt using tiny needle claws, and used this leverage to heave himself up to my shoulder, where in the span of two seconds he had nestled himself in the folds of my hooded sweatshirt up against my neck and began to purr. I was now 100% determined:  This little orange tabby would be coming home with me as soon as I could sign the paperwork. Old evil cats be damned.

I renamed “Frogger” to “Togues,” and we've been a together ever since. He still doesn't have much of a voice, but everything else about him screams “important, perfect, majestic tabby cat” so loudly. The meow is really quite an endearing cherry on top of all his handsomeness.  A fact of which he is fully aware.

you can't resist the cuuuute.

We look out for each other. Bubba consoles me when I'm feeling sad or sick. I make sure his litter box was always clean and his bowl was always full of premium cat food.  

He spent his years living in Texas helping me refine my skills, making me more approachable to students who thought I was intimidating, roaming the halls of the building I oversaw each day, greeting students and begging food from them (he once dragged a whole slice of pepperoni pizza back down the hall to my office to gnaw on).  

Bubba's first homecoming at a college back in the days when it was acceptable to have "the Indians" as a school mascot, and years later at a Winter Luau event.

He built community between the residents, leading them to throw him birthday parties, invite him (not always me included) to their events, and giving otherwise very different cat-loving students a common ground to build friendships.  He once even got a gaggle of young men to do vacuum the entire residence hall**.  Their mothers would have been so proud.

And as you may have noticed, these same gentleman renamed my fabu little feline.  "He's a proper Texan, he needs a Texan name,"  they told me in authoritative man-voices, all while whirling around a feather wand for Bubs to pounce on.  Togues was too high-falutin' apparently.  At the time I remember being offended.  In hindsight, 'Bubba' is a much better fit for his big personality. 

When that time came to look for jobs at other colleges, I happily turned down jobs that were not smart enough to recognize the amount of mental stability a live-on staff member's critter could provide.  Instead of seeing Bubba as a hindering detail and more as a way of helping me dodge bullets in the job market.  And so you could say he's directly responsible for me ending up in Kalamazoo, where I met Mac and the Mister.  

and sometimes we all sit on the same couch!  together!

I am 100% resolved that I couldn't be luckier to have stumbled across this loving little tabby.  

How did your pets become part of your family?
Do you have a pet story to share?  
I'd love to read it in the comments!

**Mistletoe is a weed that grows on trees commonly in the south.  The men in my hall thought it would be fun to pluck some 'toe and hang it above doors in their hallway around Christmas, until someone muttered "wait, isn't mistletoe poisonous to cats?"

the main hallway, the cord to the vacuum, and the Bubba gato.

It took them hours to gather and hang the foliage.  It took them less than five minutes to completely eradicate it from the building.  

More gratuitous Bubba kitten photos you say?  But of course!  (click to embiggen)

Looking out the window, playing in the sink (both around 4 months old)
Being an excellent office cat by helping me be 0% productive, and the first night Mac joined us (they were the same size!)

Doing his best batman impression.

Such a graceful little dude.


Jamie said...

A little late to respond, but I need to tell the story of the enigma that is Crookshanks.

A thousand years ago (or just over 6), in October 2006, I lived in East Lansing. I moved there after getting married. I had no friends, no job, and my then-husband was in school full-time. So I spent most of my days sleeping and nights watching tv being lonely and depressed.

We had a cat, a funny little black cat called Lucy (Lucifer) that was his - a funny stuff in itself. Lucy loved to sit in the ground floor windows and look out the screen in an unseasonably warm late October. She was tormented by this skinny, tiny, smelly orange cat, who yowled on the other side.

Sometimes I saw the cat at the backside of the townhouse, and I couldn't help but feed her once or twice.

One night, about 7pm, Lucy was sitting in the window when the orange cat came around again. They hissed, yelled and eventually the orange cat took a flying leap at the window and clung on the screen like that "Hang in There
cat poster. I was in love.

The next time I saw her and put food out, I opened the back door and she came in. She promptly rolled over, showed me her belly and began to purr. I said, "well, shit. I guess you live here now."

I named her Crookshanks after the cat in Harry Potter because she was mangy and had a huge tail. It was only 2 weeks later when she finally came out from under the couch and wasn't terrified any more that I realized that her tail was perfectly normal sized. Oh well.

She and I have been together ever since. Through 4 other houses/apartments, my divorce, 3+ jobs and living with a few other cats. We are total BFFs and she is a one person cat, pretty much.

And that's my story. :)

Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd said...

What a great story. It also sadly highlights that it's not just the hissy mean cats or bitey grumpy dogs who don't stand a chance at the animal controls. We found one of our dogs playing in the street and the other was a foster who stubbornly refused to be adopted by anyone else.