If you follow me on social media – which is certainly a more reliable way to keep up with my vegetable purchases and long walks at the park than this old albatross of a blog has gotten to be – then you know that about nine months ago my household was blessed with a new arrival: George!
I trust that nobody was expecting George to be a human infant?
Good. Moving on.
In the last few years, I have taken to feeding the feral colony of cats that haunts my apartment complex. Last May, George began to show up at feeding time with the colony who was… less than thrilled, shall we say, with an interloper horning in on their free lunch.
I spotted him right away, of course, because I do know who my regular colony cats are, well, more or less. He didn’t look like any of them, and wasn’t hanging around particularly closely with any of them. In fact, after a while, I noticed that he seemed to be actively avoiding them, and he started to show up early for feeding.
Actually, he began to come first yowl at my door to demand food, and then he figured out that standing on his hind paws and thumping on my door with his head and his front paws made a delightful noise that quickly brought me running.
He would call for me to feed him, and then yell if I tried to go back indoors. He wanted company (and protection, I expect). He was extremely friendly, if nervous. I wasn’t sure for a while if he was male or female, so I named him George, after Nancy Drew’s best friend who was a girl who liked to present a bit more masculine. I figured it covered all the bases.
If I put bedding out on the porch, he would sleep in it – although if I left it out there, the colony ferals would pee on it. He learned, too, to recognize my car and associate it with me, so if I was gone when he came around, he’d just wait under someone else’s car until I came home. And then he would come trotting out, yowling and with his very fluffy tail held high like a flag.
I cannot have another cat, I kept telling myself, even though I felt bad for him, sleeping rough. He didn’t seem suited for the outdoor life at all, and it was starting to get hot out.
The week my grandpa died, I tried to get the local feral cat coalition to come out and pick him up, but they said they didn’t rehome friendly cats, and couldn’t I take him in? Surely I had space to foster?
But I didn’t, really. Not with Mina and Trilby around. I couldn’t introduce a new cat, even temporarily, with two senior cats. On a practical level, I didn’t feel I could comfortably afford a third cat, even just to foster. Plus I was under doctor’s orders to keep as chill as possible, because I’d had what we suspected was a mild little cardiac episode while I was hiking, and we were waiting to get me tested by a cardiologist (before you worry, I’m fine, it ended up that it was a combination of heatstroke and anxiety and taking a very steep hill way too fast on a really hot day). And, and, and… my grandpa had died literally days before. I was trying to get home for his funeral but I didn’t want to leave George outside while I was gone.
But I had to go, and I had no choice. Reluctantly, I left him outside and drove home to Louisiana. When I came back, I was relieved to find him waiting for me, with a BIG YELL stored up by way of greeting.
He began to just camp out on my porch, which really annoyed the ferals – who was this young upstart? Who did he think he was? They got more and more hissy at dinnertime. George got more and more anxious and jumpy and called for my protective presence more and more often. I got more stressed than ever.
On June 8th, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had just left George out on the porch for the evening, quietly curled up on top of his shelter. Before I even finished closing the door, I knew I would be bringing him inside.
He was quite surprised to be picked up and swept directly into my bathroom.
He did not care for it much, at first. He yelled for my company all night, seemingly delighted by the way his howls echoed off the bathroom walls. Since good, solid sleep was meant to be part of my whole restful, stress-free existence, I worked to find ways to quiet him down.
Turns out George loves himself some stuffed animals.
I still had to spend time with him occasionally, or he would tear up my linoleum while he screamed. And as expected, Trilby and Mina weren’t completely thrilled with an interloper. But even with Trilby trying to slash at him under the bathroom door, George was still safer inside than outdoors. Obviously for everyone’s sake, though, I had to find him a proper home. I called a local foster group and explained the situation. “I can’t be stressed right now… and I can’t put my senior cats through this much longer… he’s a total sweetie and I just want to find him such a good home, he deserves a really good home.”
By then I had checked around and worked out that some heartless asshole had dumped George in my apartment complex, or had lived there and abandoned him when they moved. He wasn’t microchipped, but he was neutered (and definitely a boy!), and just so, so friendly and sweet, and clearly happy to be indoors again.
So I took him to PetSmart, where everyone loved him, and we put him into one of their display kennels, and he hated it.
I left for a half hour to pick up his health assessment paperwork and when I came back and cooed, “Hi, Georgie,” he whipped his head around to stare at me with his huge green eyes.
“Oh wow,” said a lady who had been trying to get him to respond to her for several minutes. “He just perked right up when you came back. He was waiting for you.”
And I could only smile and say, “He’s going to make someone a very good pet. He’s just stressed right now. I hope we can find him a home.”
But we couldn’t, that day. So his new foster mom took him home, and I went to my home, crying, and I couldn’t lie to myself… I missed being yelled at and snuggled up to by the sweet noodly goodness of George.
A week later, I showed back up at PetSmart to visit George. He was even more unhappy this week, and anyone who had been interested in him the week before hadn’t come back. Not that I was sure I had trusted any of them to be a good home to him. George deserved only the best home, where he could be loved and spoiled. How could I trust any stranger to know how to love him so much it made up for the months he was out on the street? What if they abandoned him, too? It would be too cruel if he got thrown out on the streets again. Yet I didn’t know what to do but to keep telling myself I couldn’t adopt him myself. Certainly not now after I had handed him over to a fostering organization, with their attendant adoption fees.
“But why not?” they asked me, exasperated. “We have so many kittens, we need the space and resources he’s using… he’s a nice cat, and healthy, and the two of you have clearly bonded.”
“My heart, I’m not supposed to be stressed at all… and my other cats… and money…” I didn’t even trust myself to give George the home he deserved.
“He loves you. Take him home. We’ll waive the fee.”
“I can’t…” But I was already crying, again, over this big dumb orange moosey cat, and I really did want to take him home, even though it was kind of just a bad idea all around for so many reasons. But it was the only way I could be sure he would never be abandoned again, because if he came home with me, I wouldn’t turn him out or give him up. If I brought him home it would be for good.
And so, on June 22nd, 2019, that’s what happened. George, aka Noodles Georg, aka Georgie Porgie Puddin’ Pieeeeeee, aka MoosePaws McGee, aka Mr. Floof, well, he came home. For good.
It has not been easy. George and Trilby don’t really get along, because she is a territorial, jealous Siamese, and he is extremely much a Momma’s Boy. Mina, of course, is annoyed because he is new and young and nosy and wants too much to be her friend. He has to be fed separately from them in order to feel safe. And if I buy him something, I have to get exactly the same thing for Trilby too. Oh, and the vet bills. And the food bills.
But George is sweet and cuddly, if anxious and jumpy – just today, he leaped three feet into the air when my toaster oven made a creaking noise as it cooled down. He loves ocean whitefish cat food, but only shreds, never pate or chunks. He plonks his big moosey paws through the water dish before he will drink. He will cut you for a catnip banana. He learned how to turn the electric blanket on for himself on a cold day.
I adore him. And so we manage.
I am not the perfect home for him at all, I think. But I am the home he wanted, and that’s good enough for George, so I guess it’s good enough for me.