Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nothing like life with an adolescent cat

Our home is blessed to be occupied by a new cat! Starfire, a young cat, needed a home and filled a void caused by the death of our cat Elizabeth.

I was touched by readers’ sympathetic cards and emails responding to the death of Elizabeth, some sharing memories of their own beloved 12- and 13-year-old cats who had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Elizabeth’s end was as peaceful as we could arrange, aided by the Middletown Animal Hospital. We took comfort in the knowledge that we had given Elizabeth a long and happy life in our care.

Less peaceful was the feeling of coming home each day to a cat-less house.  I was used to being greeted by a cat when I arrived home from the bus stop each day and it was depressing to walk home to an empty house.

As it blessedly turned out, Jonathan and I did not remain cat-less for long.

Starfire was a cat whose former owner could no longer take care of her. Since then, she had been fending for herself but it was not an easy life.

We agreed that we could and should give Starfire a home and people who were familiar with Starfire’s situation gave us encouragement.

For the first night, Starfire hid under our bed and under dressers. She retains the habit of sleeping beneath the bed, which I think is a carryover to when she felt she needed to conceal herself by day. I’ve noticed this past week when I come home, she is stretched out on the bed, which I interpret as Starfire feeling safer and more at-ease in her surroundings.

Starfire is black with white stars on her chest and belly, plus she is so full of life and energy that our name for her seems a good fit.

We have to adjust all over again to living with an adolescent cat. We’d grown accustomed during the years to our mature cat’s decreased energy.

One consistent factor is that my cat likes to “help” whenever I embark on crafts: whether it was Elizabeth plopping down on pattern pieces assembled for a sewing project or whether it is Starfire snagging a strip of cloth that I’ve cut to serve as a drawstring for a refashioned T-shirt’s halter-top neck.

Her zeal to attack drawstrings knows no bounds; although curiously she spares the laniard I use to hang my Lake Transit rider’s pass in a hand-made ID holder.

“Generation T” by Megan Nicolay is my present obsession. The book, which I checked out from the Middletown Library, contains 108 ideas for transforming T-shirts. My first project to refashion T-shirts was to snip off several shirts’ necks and sleeve cuffs and then knot them into a rope toy for Starfire.

A cat’s rope toy wasn’t actually in the book; it just seemed a good use for the remnants.

Starfire is one of the most intelligent cats we have ever met. She seems to understand the parallels between her litter box and the toilet. I think it only a matter of time before she figures how to use the toilet herself.

Finally, we are happy to see Starfire making friends with the apartment complex’s resident cats. It will be nice to know she has friends to interact with and upon whom she can rely against a neighborhood bullying cat.

Life with an adolescent cat is constantly entertaining. There is really nothing like it.

Published Aug. 9, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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