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What about Bob?

Wednesday, 6 May, 2009

I’ve been fighting the end of a particular era of my life. I know better, but cannot help myself. The last month has been spent getting in touch with the sad reality of the situation. Jane is not coming home.

Since February 28, I have visited the city animal shelter nearly every day. The TSPCA and Emancipet Austin also have people who recognize me on sight. The void Jane left in my life is such that I still see her on her corner of the bed and slinking around the house from the corner of my eye. Since I have difficulty with human relationships, the energy provided by someone who is both dependent upon me and likely to drag me out of bed in the afternoon is especially valuable. I miss this terribly.

I fully realize I am one of those people who is somewhat peculiar about cats. Every visit I find several cats who need somebody. Many are abandoned conscientiously. It isn’t so much people are leaving their animals because of the overall economy, but rather the difficulty of moving out of state with an animal. This hints at another reason Austin’s official unemployment rate remains so low.

Foolishly, I’ve been visiting the adoption-approved building. At first just in case. Then I started going just to be around relatively content creatures for up to an hour a day. The folks at the center like this, because cats require human interaction and there is only so much they can do within their labor and time constraints. Last week, I filed the form and became an approved adopter. It was particularly easy. My next visits to the stray-intake building and the adoption center developed another hue.

We simply have too many cats. Which isn’t easy for me to say. This is the time of year in which this is especially evident. We have too many cats and not enough humans to care for them. I am encouraged to take two cats or three or more, despite my protestations and my tiny home. I’ll be the crazy old man with too many cats soon enough as it is.

Jackson is three-years old, coal black with neon yellow eyes and a little piece missing from an ear. He is very vocal and likes to grapple. Greta is a sandy tabby who is somewhat prudish and not prone to cuddling, at least strangers. Herman was the first cat in which I was particularly interested. He is a big, long-haired blue and white who looks like Wilford Brimley. Declawed, but not prone to being nippy. He reached out a paw and soon was leaning into me as I held him on my shoulder. By the time I returned the following day he had “gone home”. It’s no surprise. Five-year-old Beetlebug is shaped like a football with a tiny tail and markings like Felix the Cat. Beet is very vocal and curious. A particularly tattooed gal took Beet’s picture with her phone while I was there and will probably take Beet home soon. Benjamin is a yearling tabby on top and white below. He is insufferably curious and when not sleeping into everything he can find. These cats live in the “interaction pens”. A protocol exists, but you can pretty much just walk in and have some first-class cat time.

I peer into a kennel. He was hiding in the very back, behind the bed. He looked asleep, but looked up and made eye contact. Bob is yellow with both brown spots and stripes, and especially small. The first day I opened the kennel, but there was too much commotion and several other cats out and about. He was clearly afraid. I let him be and went on to visit others.

I returned today. I don’t know if Bob remembered me, but he made contact right away and did not mind a little back rub. Within a minute, in a now-quiet room, he reluctantly stepped out of his kennel. Beet hissed at him. This was frightening. I instinctively, picked him up and held him to my chest. Bob leaned in and turned to look me in the eye. It took another half-hour to be certain. This included one-on-one time and some attempted toy time. I was selected.

The poor lad earned his skittishness. Bob was found by a city-services worker tangled in a barbed-wire fence way out in the southeast end of Travis County. He is not feral, but was miles away from human habitation. The wires were still in him when the city worker brought him to the shelter. No collar, no chip, nothing. He needed about five days to recover, and was immediately placed in the adoption building. He has a small scarred spot on his tail where fur probably won’t grow anymore. Based upon the condition of his teeth they estimate Bob to be four-months old.

Bob isn’t a tiny cat at all. He’s four months old. He’s six pounds of cat already! To be honest, with his markings and size, I’m no longer certain that Bob is Felis catus. He will certainly grow to be twelve pounds even if he doesn’t get fat, possibly much more. I asked Nicole, the volunteer on duty, exactly what I had to do to …

She immediately handed me a post-it onto which was written Bob’s number. “Go out here. To the right, then right again, and it’s the purple door.” It was difficult putting the temporarily little guy back in his kennel. Within about a minute Bob’s number and my number were entered into the system. While the process unfurled I noticed the time. Bob and I had actually spent about an hour and a half of quality time. I was given the bright green “ADOPTED” sticker to put on his info sheet.

He was scheduled before I got involved. This morning Bob gets the treatment. It is sad reality of the domestic animal business, but it really is best for everyone. “Snipped and chipped“. A phrase which I understand shelter workers are very careful not to say in front of casual visitors.

At the hour I have scheduled this message to post, I am at Town Lake Animal Shelter picking up Bob. As you read this, he is probably still stoned. I’m going to be busy for a few weeks.

I have three varieties of kitten food, a new brush, a new litter pan (Yes, he knows), some clay litter for transition purposes (I prefer the compressed-pine litter), two supposedly can’t-fail toys (thank Google), and the mandatory corrugated box with paper bag.

Bob has found his forever home.

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