Kitty here! Umm, I know this is a bit unorthodox, but… Y’all Tumblr bebes are super sweet about this sort of thing, so I’m posting something here and here only.
I just got a cat.
When New Cat is named and fully acclimated, she will def join the dogs, guinea pigs, and chickens as a Tumblr/Instagram regular.
But I have…mixed feelings.
My last cat died six months ago. We didn’t get another cat to replace her–c’est impossible, she was irreplaceable. Rather, we did it because we know two things:
1. A house that’s had a cat in it will always feel empty without a cat in it.
2. We have money and space and time and patience and love, and shelters are full of cats who don’t got none of those things.
Still, I’ve been thinking about my last cat Clementine a lot. And I think it would be healing to me to share a few photos of her.
This was Clementine. We adopted her when she was 14 years old. That’s old. If she were human, she would’ve been in her early seventies. Her previous owner had moved into a nursing home. She was lucky to land in one of the few no-kill shelters with enough resources to accept a cat of her age. Many don’t.
Clementine was terribly stressed out being in the shelter after so many years in one person’s home. Her fur started to fall out, and she refused to eat. She hid all the time and hissed if approached. No one applied for her.
We saw a lot of great cats at the shelter. For some reason, she was the one my partner and I both couldn’t stop thinking about. We talked about it, and decided we had the patience, emotional maturity, and financial stability needed to address the realities of adopting a shy geriatric cat. So we took her home, and released her under the bed.
“We might never see this cat,” I told my partner. “We might just know she’s here by periodic dips in the level of the food bowl.”
“I’d be okay with that,” he said.
“I would too.”
We didn’t see her for 36 hours.
Then, I heard a little sound while I was sitting in bed–not a meow, but a chirp. I looked down, and she sitting there, looking up at me. She chirped again. I patted the blanket. She sprang up beside me and started purring. Surprised, I took this blurry, crappy photo.
Within a week, she was climbing into our laps and kneading us with rapturous abandon. Sometimes she would start to drool out of pure joy.
Now, one complication was our dog. Clementine had never met a dog before, and I’d intended to introduce them very slowly and carefully. When she caught her first glimpse of our dog Brother, I was focused wholly on him, making sure he didn’t lunge or startle her. She darted past me, and ran to rub her face against him.
She was sleeping on top him by the end of the week.
To our complete surprise, Clementine was not scared of dogs.
Clementine loved dogs.
All dogs. Any dogs.
We foster dogs, and every new one that came home got the same treatment. She ran to them like an old lover, chirping her barely-audible chirps, paws warming up to give them a deep tissue massage the moment they sat down.
She put in an application to adopt Sunny, a red heeler mix who was our our 13th or 14th foster. We accepted her application and made him our second dog.
In the course of her four-year career, she cat-trained over a dozen dogs, making each of them infinitely more adoptable. Many went on to permanent homes with cats.
I was always hovering around her and the dogs, incredibly nervous that one might injure her. She’d been declawed by her first owner; she was defenseless.
But she knew exactly how to handle each one. She sat calmly and accepted sloppy licks from overly-affectionate dogs. She hid from excitable, high-energy dogs until after their playtime. We had one that was so afraid of cats that she was borderline aggressive towards them, but Clementine was absolutely determined. That dog was sleeping peacefully next to her after a month of relentless displays of patient friendliness.
Clem was the Nurse Joy of the house. She always knew if someone was hurting, emotionally or physically.
In this photo, our older dog Brother was suddenly deathly sick. Underneath the blanket he’s swaddled in more blankets and many layers of towels, because he was uncontrollably oozing blood. When we brought him home from the emergency vet, Clementine immediately crouched on top of his head, purring and kneading so intensely that it felt like she was in some kind of trance. He recovered fully.
When a (human) friend of ours was recovering from a horrible trauma, Clementine parked herself on her chest and refused to budge.
“But… But… I don’t like cats…” our friend said, a last feeble protest before submitting to Clementine’s healing ministrations.
We had four glorious years with Clementine. She made it to 18–a great age for a cat. She died peacefully, without pain, and is buried on our property, underneath a her favorite catnip plant.
I don’t know what her life was like before we met, but I know she was happy in those four years. She showed it to us every single day.
I’m so glad we took a chance on a shy senior. There were a lot of risks and a lot of unknowns. We were so focused on accepting those that we weren’t prepared for what we got: the best outcome of all possible outcomes.
That’s all I wanted to say, really! Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.
New Cat is 14, the same age Clementine was when we adopted her. She’s in the early stages of renal disease, but we’re hoping she has a few good years left. I’m excited to get to know New Cat. I’m looking forward to posting pictures of her as she finds her place in our house.
I wrote an article soon after she died about why I think senior pets are totally worth it. You can read it here:
I’m so amazingly touched by all of the responses. I knew I could count on Tumblr bebes to appreciate Clem’s story! Thank you so much. My heart feels healed knowing she might convince others to give senior rescues a chance.
Also I’m happy to introduce New Cat.
This is Clover.
Like a clover: she is very smol and easily overlooked, but it’s good luck that we found her.
May Good Cat Clementine watch over us all.