Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Addie!

Pooped kitty
First day in her "forever home"

Addie turned two years old today. Our little bundle of joy, the light of our lives, the beautiful soul that shares our home with us: it feels like she has always been here, but she's only two years old.

(I started to write about all the cats I have lived with before Addie; I realized that it should be a blog post all on its own because this is Addie's special day. Plus that gives me a future idea for when I am "stuck" once again.)

Addie's mom, Alley: Addie is third from mom's chin
In 2010 Sarah and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of living together. In that time not a single furry creature had shared our living space with us and we - in particular, I - thought it was about time we did something about that. We hadn't quite worked out the timing yet - it was a busy summer that year - when I saw a Facebook post from a high school classmate announcing that her son's cat had had kittens and they were looking for homes for the six of them. We decided to be fatalistic about it; I contacted my friend Penny to let her know that we were interested in taking one but we would be away in Kenora for two weeks at exactly the time they were all going to be adopted. I told her not to "hold" one for us, but if they weren't all spoken for by the time we got back then we would love to take one home. If they had all been adopted by then, we'd know we weren't meant to have a kitten from that litter and would have shopped around in the fall, quite likely. However, while we were in Kenora, I received an email from Penny telling me that five of the six kittens had new homes but they still had a little girl that she would be thrilled if we adopted. Of course, we said yes!

Addie is dead centre, limbs over a sibling
We returned home mid-week after Simcoe Day and a few days later, on August 7, 2010, Sarah and I took Tim and Jill down to Penny's home in the Beaches to meet Addie (whom they had named "Squeaker") for the first time. There were two other cats in the home, a slighter older female named "Fischer" (visible in the nursing picture I posted earlier) and Addie's mom, "Alley", so named because she had come to them as a stray guessed it, the alley behind their home. We spent a bit of time with Alley first so she wouldn't be too upset with us for taking her last baby (she is a lovely cat) and then Penny handed me a groggy bundle of downy fur who weighed nearly as much as a handful of dandelion fluff, but not quite. She had been sleeping in a box out of sight beside the refrigerator, so our first glimpse of her was the moment Penny put her in my arms for the first time.

Addie is far right; the black nose is a giveaway
I am very glad we decided to go the "fatalistic" route with Addie, because in all honesty I would not have picked that little kitten out of a litter as one I had to take home. I thought she was kind of dull-looking in colour and even though she didn't struggle in my arms neither did she snuggle or purr. She seemed really kind of lethargic, truth be told. But we were clearly meant to have her in our lives, so we thanked Penny, said goodbye to Alley (who watched us with Fisher through the screen door as we left), got back in the car (Jill held the kitten for the trip home) and drove away. I don't remember the trip home; it was really all I could do to keep from crying with joy. I knew I had missed having a cat live with me; I didn't realize how much.

Put the camera away and PLAY with me!
From Day One these stairs were her "Pride Rock"
And then, just like that, we were home with her forever. I imagine she was a little overwhelmed by the attention at first but she truly had no trouble relaxing and socializing from the moment she arrived. There was no slinking around the apartment, no crying, no hiding under the furniture, no accidents of any kind, she just got her bearings and went about her business like she had always lived here. This picture was taken on her first day with us, as was the one at the top of this post; the two in between were from her earliest days in Penny's home. One of the best things about adopting her from people we know is having a photo record from before we adopted her: the collection of pictures that they took of her as a newborn and which they posted on Facebook when they were looking for adoptive "parents". I downloaded all of these pictures and Sarah and I pored over them, looking for clues as to which kitten was Addie. We were able to find her in every photo because of several distinctive markings and I am thrilled to have these early-life pictures of her. Also, because Penny knows exactly what day the kittens were born, we have that information and that is why we know for sure that today is Addie's second birthday.

Two legs, one cat
In heaven with her two favourite people
Now about that name. One of the most important cats in my life was named "Syd" because he came to my friend and me as a stray and we thought we were only going to look after him overnight and take him to the shelter the next day. We gave him a "throwaway" name for fun; he never left again. When he passed away I "replaced" him with another male cat which I then named "Mel"; so now two cities in Australia had been used to name consecutive cats. Addie is the first cat that has lived in my home since Mel, so naturally I wanted to keep the progression going: "Addie" is short, of course, for "Adelaide". It must have been the right name for her, because after I had decided on it (but before we had picked her up) my daughter, Jill, called me one night and guessed what name I was going to go with completely unprompted. The best part of all of this: her name suits her perfectly and, as an added bonus, it's so easy to call out when we're looking for her. I cannot even imagine her ever being named anything else.

A rare Daddy cuddle
A cuddle with daddy on a cold winter's day
So that's the story of how this precious creature came to live with us. She is not the most cuddly cat I've ever had; she'll clearly never be a lap cat or seek out snuggles and over-the-top affection. But instead she is by far the most doting animal I have ever lived with in my life. She is possessed of an impish spirit that just won't quit; I am not allowed to go to bed without a game of hide-and-seek in the low light of the living room late at night. There is a "tunnel" in the living room that our friend Rachel gave to us and which is Addie's absolute favourite "toy" of all. On the rare occasions that Addie does want some affection she lets us know by going into that tunnel and flopping over on her side, where she waits until one of us comes over and rubs her all over. This is also one of the few places where she will sit and purr - and even then, it's very, very soft. But the rarity of it makes it even more wonderful. She also has a very well-developed foot fetish; for some reason she loves being rubbed by my feet even though she barely tolerates being rubbed by my hands. Of course I am only too happy to oblige; I would do pretty much anything for her because her greatest gift to me is her devotion and constant companionship through the long hours I spend alone on the computer while Sarah is at work.

So happy birthday, light of our lives. Two years old today. It seems like you've always been with us, and yet it also seems like you just arrived. Time is funny that way. Thank you for the joy you bring to our lives every single day. You truly are one in a million.

Oh, and as for her being dull-looking in colour? Not so much. She is one of the most beautiful cats I have ever seen; her fur is so soft and her colour so rich and elegant. Thank goodness for fate.

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