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Life with Dogs and Cats

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Some people are dog people.

And some people are cat people.

As for me, I am animal people.  I love 'em all.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be like Dr. Dolittle. I wanted to live in a house full of animals. (Before there was the Eddie Murphy movie, there was Rex Harrison in a musical. And before that, a series of books by Hugh Loftig.)

Then I wanted to be Jane Goodall. Or Diane Fossey. And live with animals in their homes.

Or maybe Penny Patterson, who works with Koko, the gorilla who speaks American Sign Language.

Today, I work in a web consulting firm.  And I work with humans all day.

And then I come home to my husband and my three dogs and my two cats.


Make that four cats.

Though technically, two are cats and two are kittens.

Meet Elsa Clair...

...and Calvin.

How, you may ask, did I wind up with two new additions to my menagerie?

Good question.

I should probably make up a story, because what really happened doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense. But the truth is probably more entertaining.

Let's begin in August, as poor Jasper--once again--wound up at the vet having surgery relating to his anal sac removal many months ago. (Feel free to read his happy story.)  When I dropped him off that day, there were some adorable kittens in a cage in the waiting room.

Of course they were adorable. They were kittens.

And I was in a particularly vulnerable moment. Dog heading for surgery. Aaron, my youngest child, was about to leave for college.

And I walked over to the cage and this adorable (of course) black and white kitten jumped up onto a shelf, purred, and rolled over onto his back. And then he stuck his paw through the bars of the cage and said, "Rub my belly." At least, that's how I remember it.

I was, as they say, smitten.

Later, when I went to pick up Jasper after his surgery, I took Aaron with me to help. Aaron loves cats. He's a cat person. And he saw the same kitten, who put on a similar I Am Adorable show. And of course Aaron fell in love, too. And started lobbying me to get the kitty.

We went home, where I took care of Mr. Jasper, who needed my attention. I did, I'll admit, drag Brian back to the vet the next day to visit the kittens. Yes, that was plural. Kittensssssss.

Because there were two black and white kitties. Brother and sister. And the nice people at the vet (who could spot an animal lover...a mile away) thought I should look at both. Maybe they could go to a home together?

They were adorable. (They were kittens, right?) Brian agreed. Who wouldn't?

And then we went back home and I played nurse and doctor to Jasper.

I hadn't planned on having any more pets. I had told everyone I was full up with a complete set of three dogs and two cats. And I could never have more cats than dogs.

Plus, my daughter had told me she'd call an intervention if I ever considered taking in more animals.

But I couldn't stop thinking about whether we should adopt the two kittens. Because by then I had realized that adopting two was actually easier, and better for all involved, than adopting one. The kittens could amuse each other when I wasn't home...and they wouldn't annoy the older cats quite as much.

Somehow I had gone from No More Pets to Just Two More.

After much pondering and discussions with my incredibly loving and tolerant husband, I was leaning heavily toward the "we should really do this" side. So that Sunday night, I filled out an application and sent an email to the adoption organization (which was connected through the vet clinic), saying I was interested, and that I'm sending the application in, but Jasper was still recovering and my son was going to college in a couple days and I couldn't make a final decision until after the dog was better and the boy was delivered to NJIT.

The next day, Brittany (from the adoption group) called and said the kitties were mine if I wanted them. I repeated my Not Now story, and told her if someone else wanted them, not to wait on me. And that I would know by Thursday, and if I decided to adopt them, I'd call by the end of the week.

Fast forward to Friday. Aaron was safely ensconced at college. The house was quiet. Brian had agreed to go with my decision, whatever it was. (Bless that man!) And I decided I was going to bring home the kittens!

I called the vet's office and asked if the two black and white kittens--the brother and sister--were still available for adoption. They were. So after work, I ran out and bought a few kitten items--a bed, some kitten food, an extra litter box--and some toys and treats for the cats and dogs, and I was off to pick up our new additions.

I walked in to the vet's office near closing time, and one of the techs brought out the little girl cat first. She was so tiny, like a bird. And then Brittany came out with the boy cat.

Wait a minute. Didn't the male have a patch of black fur on his chin? This cat didn't.

With a sinking feeling, I suddenly realized: These were not the kittens I was looking for.

(It felt like a twisted Star Wars moment.)

Apparently, one of the vets had felt sorry for the other two kittens and had adopted them. And these two were a different set of black-and-white brother-and-sister kitties.

Right. So, what do I say? I don't want these kittens? These are not the ones I wanted?

They were still...say it with me...adorable.

So without any pressure (really, truly), Brittany asked me if I wanted to spend some time and meet these guys and decide if maybe I might want them instead.

So I spent about a half hour with them. And they were sweet and friendly and (you guessed it) adorable.

The office was closing, and I thought, I'm just going to do this. Maybe those other kittens weren't meant to be mine. The boy cat was rubbing in and out of my legs, and the little girl was getting all kitty sleepy and tired and snuggly and loving.

So I brought them home.

And that's how Elsa Clair and Calvin came to live with us.

There's a lot more to the stay tuned for the next several posts, where I'll write about their first few days with us, and how the other animals in our household interact with them.

And there will be plenty of pictures.


Here are just a few, for starters, so you can get to know the kittens.

Elsa Clair
Elsa Clair is the smaller of the two. She is named after Elsa, the lioness in the famous book (and movie) Born Free. She is sweet and gentle, but with a very loud vice and some serious hunting skills.  She's easy to recognize, as she has a half mask on her face, and her body has large black splotches like a cow.

 Sweet Elsa

Tiny Elsa

Pretty Elsa

Gorgeous Elsa

If you've ever read the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, then you can guess who Calvin is named after. For those who are familiar, you might remember that the young boy in the strip sometimes dresses up as Stupendous Man; in that character, Calvin wears a mask and a cape. Our Stupendous Cat Calvin also has a mask--and the fur on his back is all black, like a cape. The larger of the two kittens, Calvin has a smaller meow, but he is full of personality.

Tall Calvin

Serious Calvin

Stupendous Calvin
Curious Calvin

The two kittens love to play to together.  And quite obviously love one another.

Playing together

Sleeping together

And just for the record:

I'm no Dr. Dolittle.

And I swear I'm not a crazy cat lady. Or delusional dog lady.

But I am an animal lover.

Who just happens to live with four cats and three dogs...or, to put it another way: 150 pounds of dogs and 20 pounds of cats.

Snuggly siblings