After my favorite cat passed away I swore I'd never take in another animal, the loss devastated me. But something changed my mind, and I'm glad it did.
In 2005 my beloved orange tabby cat, Puddy, passed away. I adopted Puddy as a kitten and he was a part of my life long before I met my husband. I admit I spoiled him. I gave him a lot of attention so of course when I met my (then) future husband, Puddy was somewhat jealous and needed time to check out this new comer. After many months of my husband-to-be giving belly rubs and playing with him, Puddy reluctantly offered his paw of approval. We set the date and three years later we started a family.
The boys and a change of heart
Puddy eventually tolerated my husband being around all the time. He began enjoying those nightly belly rubs; but when our son was born, he didn’t take to having yet another human around, especially one that I doted on. He would walk the perimeter of the baby’s room, staying as far away as possible, yet still being in the room with me. As our son grew, so did Puddy and he started to mellow out. By the time our second son came along, Puddy was much more tolerant to the point of sitting next to the crib. As the boys got older, they played and bonded with Puddy and I think Puddy bonded with them (although he would never admit it). Time passed and Puddy crossed peacefully over the rainow bridge. My boys were devastated and so was I. Puddy was my companion for 16 years and I needed time to grieve. They wanted another cat, but I was not ready to try to fill the void in my heart with another pet. In fact, I thought I would never adopt again.
Well, never say never. Two years passed and my husband and I made the decision to adopt a cat. Yes I had a change of heart. I wanted my boys to grow up with cats and dogs as I did. There is something about having an animal in the house to help you navigate life. Feelings of sadness and betrayal from our human counterparts somehow melt away when holding a little puffball who crawls all over you, chases a laser light and purrs up a storm when snuggling in your neck. I wanted my boys to experience the joy, comfort and loyalty that only a pet provides. I wanted them to have a companion when life didn’t go the way they thought, or when their heart was broken. I wanted them to love something other than their video games.
My oldest was a cat fan from the day he was born, but his brother’s feelings were still to be determined, and since it is best to adopt kittens in pairs, we decided to adopt one kitten for each boy. They would get to pick a kitten and name it. My oldest wanted a Puddy-look-alike, an orange tabby. He was very adamant about this, so much so that I requested the rescue to let me know when any orange kittens were arriving for adoption.
One crisp October morning I got a call, “The kittens are coming this weekend”. “Is there an orange one?” I asked. “Yes” was the reply. Perfect timing - or purrrfect timing - as my son would turn 7 the following week. What a great birthday present this will make!
It seemed like FOR-EV-ER waiting for Saturday to arrive so when it did we were up early and eager to meet the next additions to our family. It felt like Christmas morning with the anticipation of opening the gifts left under the tree. But we had to wait until the store opened. That proved difficult and almost impossible for two overly excited boys. When it was time, we piled into the van and I told the boys that if they didn’t see a kitten they liked, there would be others to choose from in the coming weeks. This was the end of kitten season and plenty were available thanks to the work of the local rescue.
We arrived at the adoption event early, eager to be the first in line to have a chance to pick the kitten of our choice … that orange tabby. The one who would replace the hole left in our hearts when Puddy passed. We kept checking the time and watching as the store doors opened and closed, until we saw her - the rescue volunteer who would fulfill our dreams. “Here she comes!” I heard my boys squeal as their eyes stayed fixated on her. She walked through the doors, carrier in hand and headed toward us. As she got closer, we heard the tiny mews coming from the tan plastic carrier. The sound was a soft, not full grown meow, but in unison, those tiny mews seemed to fill the store.
Excitement overwhelmed the boys as their eyes widened and mouths grew into the biggest smiles. Their eyes darted from me to the carrier, back and forth, waiting in anticipation of what was to come. Would they find the perfect kitten?
The volunteer put the carrier down then went to get the key to open the adoption room door. Black and white, calico, brown and grey tabby kittens were smooshed against the carrier door. But where was the orange tabby we were promised? Maneuvering its way from the back of the carrier was a white kitten with a few orange tabby spots. He pushed his way to the front of that tan carrier and looked directly into my son’s eyes and mewed. This kitten mewed, and mewed and mewed while staring directly at my son. My oldest, the one who was adamant about getting an orange tabby shouted, “Mom! I want that one!”
What happened to the Puddy-look-alike?
The four of us were suddenly whisked away into the adoption room. We sat on the cold floor and the kittens were put in front of us. The volunteer then opened the carrier door and a flood of color, giggles and laughter began filling the room. All the kittens were mewing and pushing each other to get out of the carrier. All except one. That little white kitten with orange tabby spots walked slowly and confidently over to my son, mewed and stared up at him. My son gently picked him up and they snuggled with each other. “I want this one, Mom” he said.
Of course I had to remind him that he wanted an orange tabby, and this cutie was not. “Are you suuure?” I asked. “He’s not orange like Puddy”. He again said yes and I could see that strangely enough there was a bond forming between them. A sort of love-at-first-sight bond. It was odd but a part of me still believed he would put this white kitten aside and wish he adopted the orange tabby, the Puddy-look-alike. Knowing adopting an orange kitten was important to the boys, and knowing his brother’s feelings on cats was still to be determined, we opted to adopt the runt of the litter - the little orange tabby.
This orange kitten was the love of the foster. She said he liked to snuggle in her neck and purrrrrr. That sounded good to me, and although he was the smallest of all, he packed a loud rumble with that purr. So after we purchased all the kitten necessities - food, collar, litter box, litter, toys, and carrier - we headed home with the Puddy-look-alike and his white and orange spotted brother.
The van was filled with giggles and the sound of both kittens mewing all the way home.
The boys were so excited to have two little furballs running around that they could hardly control themselves. “When can we play with them? Look they’re fighting with each other! Ow he scratched me! They are so tiny!” The kitten brothers explored their new home with the same excitement as their playful human brothers. It was a magical and memorable day.
Our new kittens - Stitch and Captain Jack
The boys now had to name their kittens. The names they settled on were Captain Jack and Stitch. Yes, we were very much into Disney at the time. Captain Jack was the white kitten with orange tabby spots and Stitch was the orange tabby. As the kittens became young cats, the bond between my son and “Jack” never diminished. It just grew and grew. He would let my son hold him upside down, and play rough like boys do. Whenever my son came home from school, Jack would greet him with a loud meow and a leg rub. Stitch on the other hand never enjoyed the rough play and was more scared of the boys than anything. He just wanted to chase laser lights, play with Jack and snuggle. Stitch became my cat and my youngest decided he liked dogs better, so when the cats were four years old we adopted a six month old, black lab mix.
Our new puppy - Precious
My son named our new puppy Precious and she is. She is the sweetest dog anyone could ask for. Jack and Precious get along great, although sometimes Jack will sleep on her toys, which Precious tolerates and just looks at me with her big blue eyes, as if asking me to release them from Jack’s clutches. Stitch and Precious are just the opposite. Stitch does not like Precious; probably because she was a puppy and a bit playful at first. Poor Precious would go over to Stitch to play and Stitch would just hiss and run away. Precious, thinking she should chase Stitch for a game of tag soon found out that was not Stitch’s intent.
A good decision - years of enjoyment
It’s been 14 years since we adopted Stitch and Captain Jack. They’ve given us much joy, love and comfort. We’d watch them chase each other, climb the curtains, tease Precious, chase laser lights, watch TV and sleep with us at night. There is nothing more soothing and relaxing than rubbing your kitty’s belly and listening to them purr … it’s the best natural sleep aid around!
Kitten curtain climbers
Captain Jack and Stitch lounging around
In February 2020, Stitch’s health started to decline. He stopped eating and we had to give him fluids. In the beginning it seemed to help but eventually the fluids stopped making him feel better and he stopped eating altogether. Owning a pet isn’t all joy and laughter. You have to keep them healthy by taking them for yearly vet checks and vaccine boosters. But the saddest of all is when they are too sick to help and must be put down. This happened to Stitch the week before my youngest was to go to college his freshman year.
Once the decision was made by my husband and I to release Stitch of his obvious pain, we had to tell the boys. Both were devastated. Both spent the hours before going to the vet petting and loving on him. The four of us went to the vet, and during this time of covid and wearing masks, we entered the room where we would agree to end his life. It wasn’t easy for any of us, but we could see, and the vet confirmed, it was time to help him move over the rainbow bridge to a better place, a place free from pain and abundant in crinkle balls and laser lights.
Captain Jack, Stitch and Precious
As difficult as that day was, I am glad we adopted Captain Jack, Stitch and Precious. Giving my boys that opportunity to love and care for another living creature is priceless, even from the joy and laughter of adoption and watching them grow from kitten to teen to adult to senior, to the pain of losing them and making the hard decision, it was worth it. And I think my boys would agree having animals added another level of love and caring to their teenage years.
With my boys now in college and moving on with their lives, and as an empty nester entering retirement, will I adopt again? Since Captain Jack and Precious are still at home, time will tell but in planning ahead, I am considering a new venture - fostering - which would allow me the freedom to travel, yet the opportunity to care for an animal in need of a home. But that’s a few years from now …
The information contained on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate, as it is solely based on the author's experiences. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of PBJ Pet Care Service or Pets Bring Joy animal rescue.