My friends with cats, after seeing me interact with theirs and my delight at photos and videos, were the first who got me thinking about adopting one. With that seed planted, true to form, I did a lot of research on, well, how to have a pet.
In doing that, I read a lot of articles about studies that found numerous benefits of having pets or specifically cats. The science said a cat would improve my health and lower stress levels, and who am I to argue with science?
I read it and believed it, but having never had a pet, I didn't really know what to expect.
|April 26, 2014||April 26, 2015|
Today is the anniversary of my cat's adoption day one year ago. After many months of thinking about getting my first pet* and many months of encouragement, I walked to the bird store down the street from my apartment where she was being fostered Friday afternoon, and went back on Saturday to adopt her.
Saturday night she wasn't shy about getting in the bed with me, but unfortunately it wasn't to sleep. She wouldn't sleep in the bathroom and she wouldn't stop walking around my head for hours. But when she finally curled up next to my leg, I couldn't stop checking on her to see if she was still there. She slept so sweetly. When I woke up Sunday morning, she stayed on the bed with me, mostly keeping to herself, but headbutting my hand every now and then for pets and skritches.
Sunday afternoon I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom (I knew to keep her to a confined space as she got used to her new home) playing with her, when I realized she had tapeworms. I freaked out, and somehow managed to all at once text or email every person I knew with a cat to find out what to do... and Google the wiggly white worms I saw on her...and cry hysterically. I had spent so long preparing for a pet and was so anxious about it, that a problem this soon after bringing her home, even one I was assured was common and easy to fix, seemed more than I could handle.
I went to work on Monday unsure whether I should keep her. I had called the rescue to find out more details on her medical record, and mentioned that I was upset to have taken home a sick kitty without knowing so. They must have sensed my stress because they changed their original offer for me to pick up de-worming pills at their office to paying for a full visit and check-up at their vet. The program manager at the rescue asked how the kitty was doing otherwise; I told her I woke up with the cat on top of me, and she said, "awwww, that's a really good sign."
On Tuesday I took the cat to the vet. When they realized I had adopted her (and wasn't from the rescue), it seemed like everyone there cooed how glad they were for the cat that I was giving her a good home, that she would be happy with her "new mom." I felt guilty that I still wasn't sure I wanted to keep her. They gave her medicine and checked her overall health.
I hadn't named the cat at this point because I couldn't name something I wasn't sure I was ready to keep. The rescue had a very sensible policy that I could bring the cat back for any reason--this sounds sort of callous, but if I really hadn't been ready, it would have been far better for the cat to go back to that rescue than to the shelter or the streets.
That night she curled up in my lap for the first time. I didn't know what her name was yet, but I knew I was going to keep her.
*I had a turtle for a few months. Turtles are not the same.
Lady Bird is no more than three years old but has needed to go to the vet six times (and I’ve had to go more times without her) since that first visit, and she now takes two daily medications. She eats a vet-specified diet. She got her first cone-of-shame after just about a month. In the first six months she peed in my bed nine times, four of those with me in it. She walked out of the apartment in the first couple months I had her, and I had to coax her back in while trying not to have a panic attack. She is not a fan of other animals. If I knit on the couch I will get caught in the crossfire between her and the moving yarn and my legs have the scratches to prove it.
She also comes to the door when I get home from work. If I sit in the corner of the couch, she almost immediately jumps into my lap. She puts her nose against my nose in the morning to check if I'm awake before asking for food. Every now and then she'll lie just right on top of my back like a purring heat pad. She likes to listen to and watch the rain as much as I do. She’s learned how to get under the covers at night and curl up next to me when I'm sleeping. When I had my heart broken, she followed me from room to room just to sit with me. She lets me put bowties on her. Once she held a spoon in her paw (there are witnesses who can corroborate this). I looked at her about a month ago and realized I couldn’t imagine not having her around. I honestly had no idea I could or would love her this much.
Lady Bird hasn't been the easiest first pet, but she makes up for it in adorable shenanigans and sweetness.
Around one of her many vet visits, I lamented to a friend and fellow cat-owner about taking her yet again. She said, "Maybe that's why you got Lady Bird - because you are good enough to give her what she needs." Another friend, in an entirely different conversation, said, "You needed each other." I think they both were right.