By Judith Ayn.
2014 began as a very bad year. My world turned topsy-turvy with early retirement from work due to stress-related health problems and the death of my sixteen-year-old cat. I was home alone, with too much time on my hands to think about losses.
In April, I started looking for a cat to adopt. I couldn’t find any available through friends or my vet, so I checked Craigslist. There was a listing for a rescue group. They were trying to find a forever home for Ziggy, a gray and black-striped tabby. He and his sisters had been dumped at a mobile home park. The girls were friendly and quickly claimed. Ziggy was very shy and did not leave a good first impression on prospective pet parents.
I was determined to make Ziggy part of my household, for both our sakes. But there were adoption fees to consider and vet bills that would strain my fixed income. When my son offered to pay the fee for Ziggy as my Mother’s Day present, I knew it was time to act.
One of the two college students fostering him helped me pull Ziggy out from under a bed and put him into a pet carrier. He was NOT a happy feline. Amazingly, though, within a couple of days he began to settle down.
Over the next few months, I discovered that Ziggy loved to eat and also loved to talk. He chittered at birds through the sliding glass door, and he whined continuously, day and night, stopping only when he had my full attention.
I also realized my new male cat was lonely. Six months later, I searched again for a companion for him. Another rescue group had been fostering a little girl, Sammy Sue – a beautiful calico who only had one eye. She was much more feral than Ziggy. Her adoption papers have two spots of blood where she very unhappily clawed me as her foster mother and I struggled to wrestle her into a carrier.
Sammy spent four days under the bed in my apartment before she ventured out. She heard my son playing in the living room with Ziggy, using a little pole with a bell, ball, and feather. We were shocked when she ran across the room and batted at the feather. Apparently, she had arrived.
Ziggy was nearly three times the size of Sammy, who was very tiny. (Picture a 5-pound bag of potatoes compared to a 15-pound bag.) For some reason, Sammy felt safe with him from the very beginning. The two of them groomed each other, played non-stop and cuddled for frequent long naps. After a while, even I received some attention as my little girl purred, allowed herself to be petted, and occasionally sought a lap for a few brief moments at a time.
Sammy is a unique cat. Her cry sounds like a noise in a computer game. She literally jumps straight up and hops over Ziggy while she practices her zoomies. Sudden moves by Ziggy or me startle her, probably because her sight is limited. Then she’ll hiss and spit until she can regain her bearings.
Meanwhile, Ziggy retrieves and drops at my feet little plastic balls with bells in them that I toss down the hall. He runs back and forth for a half dozen times before finally losing interest and stretching out to sleep on the carpet. The weird part is that I didn’t teach him to retrieve. He just started doing it one day.
One of the very favorite activities these two have is watching hummingbirds flit to and fro near the feeder on the patio. They duck their heads when the birds swoop and then bravely chitter back at them. Ziggy knows several words, including birds. When I call him and say the birdies are out, he is at the glass door like a shot.
Over time, as they’ve settled in, I’ve been able to return to my passion of writing, something I couldn’t do for a year. I’ve written a short novella and used a photo I took of Ziggy and Sammy on the cover. When they’re famous, they can support me.
Did I rescue these two cats, or did they rescue me? Definitely, a little of both. I’m blessed with these two little souls. We’ve helped each other find a better life for our small family.
Judith Ayn (pen name) is a retired California attorney who is owned and operated by two rescue cats, Ziggy and Sammy Sue (the One-Eyed Wonder Cat). She is the author of the Cheater’s Lake Mystery Series. The first book published is a novella, MURDER AT THE NO-KILL ANIMAL SHELTER, featuring Ziggy and Sammy as the models for Fred and Ethel. The next entry is DEAD LAWYERS, where Homicide Detective Mark Walsh has settled in with Fred and Ethel. Ayn writes short stories, essays, poems, online and in print. She is very grateful for her rescue and her rescue kitties!