We adopted a cat today. Or rather, we put down a deposit on adopting a cat tomorrow, from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. Her name is Sadie, and she is 4 years old, part Siamese, very soft, and a little chubby. Her blue eyes are a little crossed. She is a sweet, mellow cat. Not one that is going to jump on you or lick your face.
I didn’t think this was going to happen. The last time I owned a cat was 13 years ago. I got that cat, Zooey, from a shelter in Pasadena when I was a single postdoc living on my own, and I had her for about 7 years. She had to be put down after suffering from sudden kidney failure, which turned out to result from a massive, inoperable tumor. When she passed away, I was 8 months pregnant with my son, and pretty emotional. I held her in my arms and sang to her and said goodbye. Then I told the vet it was time.
I was also pretty allergic. Although I had, and loved, pet cats as a child, I had developed allergies in adulthood to all kinds of furry creatures–cats, dogs, horses, rats–a veritable zoo of ugly welts on my back when the allergist tested them. I started on allergy shots early last year, ostensibly for the hay fever caused by grasses, dust and mold, but I was also hoping that maybe, I’d be able to get a cat again.
Even if that allergy problem were solved, though, there was also the issue of whether my husband would accept another cat, or not. He had never lived with cats and didn’t like Zooey. When we married he’d been willing to try to live with a cat, and dealt with it for about 5 years. But unfortunately, unlike other cats I’ve known, Zooey was a licker. She was also a jumper. She licked his face, she jumped on his head. And he’d had enough. When she passed away, especially with a new baby on the way, that put an end to cat ownership for a long time.
Enter our daughter, now 16, and our son, now 12, the baby I was pregnant with when Zooey died. They have wanted a pet for a long time. The move to California has not been easy on them, and the doldrums of winter, the post-holiday back-to-school blahs–even here in paradise as we watch the Facebook snow fall on our friends in Massachusetts–have been rough. For the past month our house has been kind of sad, and lonely. There’s a therapist in our lives now–a human one. The possibility of getting a pet had been brought up too, periodically, over the years, and always denied. There were my allergies. There were the cautionary tales of Zooey, the face licker, and the guinea pigs–an experiment from 6-8 years ago for which the kids weren’t really ready. One of the guinea pigs might have had health problems, and was never friendly, all the way up until she died suddenly of unknown causes. Better not to risk it.
One night about a week ago, I saw the white teddy bear again. It’s really my husband’s teddy, or maybe it’s mine, but it lives on his dresser and has sat on his dresser in our bedroom for the entire 18.5 years we’ve been married. He won it at an arcade game at Seattle Center, before we were married, when we were attending my cousin’s wedding in Seattle. That year our family actually had four weddings and a funeral (my grandmother’s); ours was one of the weddings too. That teddy bear had become invisible. It was there the whole time, but it had just become part of the furniture, part of the background, something the housekeeper moves around because it gets in her way when she dusts. I saw it again that night, and took it to bed with me.
Now we have a cat. I can’t say how or if the bear and the cat are really connected, but I feel that they are, somehow, by love.