From time to time I receive an unexpected gift, a present I didn’t even know I wanted. And my life is better for it.
Four years ago, on a hazy summer afternoon, Tony Bear and Junior-Man came home from cutting grass at our warehouse. In his hands, my son cupped a black and white ball of fur.
I was certain he held a baby guinea pig. We’d recently lost our beloved Trixie Juniper, a tri-color Abyssinian guinea pig with personality plus.
I can still hear Trixie’s little pink nails clickety-clacking across the kitchen floor. I regret never filming her as she ate a cherry tomato, especially the times one would get skewered on her two quite long bottom teeth. Surely the video would have gone viral.
But this ball of fluff was not a guinea pig. She was a kitten.
When my husband’s lawn mower came within inches of the fist-sized cat’s grassy hiding spot near the Rail Trail, she was so tiny and weak, she didn’t, or couldn’t, attempt to run.
At home, as soon as I said yes to “Can we keep her, please?” Junior-Man, who loves old cars, named her Bonneville, Bonnie for short. Because I believe every creature needs a middle name, I supplied “Agnes,” the name of the character in the Universal Pictures movie, Despicable Me, who numerous times, declares things “so fluffy.” “Fluffy” is the word most often used to describe Bonnie, who is, I’m fairly certain, a Norwegian Forest Cat.
Our family quickly fell in love with not only Bonnie Agnes specifically, but cats in general.
Having owned dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits for years, a pet cat seemed a novelty. The fastidious grooming behavior. The faithfulness to use a litter box. The now-I-love-you, now-I-don’t mood swings.
Thank goodness I’d outgrown my cat allergy. Into my 30s, I was highly allergic to cats. My father used to claim that our family, namely me, kept the Benadryl corporation in business. Oddly, it took us years to make the connection between me sleeping with our calico cat Ginger and me waking up with eyes swollen shut and nonstop sneezing. I’m so grateful, for Bonnie’s sake, that my allergy is a thing of the past.
Two months after Bonnie joined our family,
we I volunteered to foster another kitten while a friend of a friend went out of town for “a month, maybe more.”
This kitten, a gray tabby named Boots, was a boy. Only he wasn’t. Upon closer inspection, we learned he was a she. Once we figured that out, I set to work selecting her middle name. I settled on “Louise.” Mostly because I wanted her nickname to be Bootsie-Lou.
At first the cats were adversarial. Scratch (and bite) that. Bonnie Agnes was the combative one. For at least two weeks, Bon-Ag (Bonnie’s nickname) chased, bullied, and hissed at Boo Lou (Boots’s shorter still nickname) whenever they were in the same vicinity.
And then one day, she didn’t. After that, the two spent hours, days, sprawled together in sunspots and playing chase. During naps, their long lean kitten bodies resembled the Chinese yin-yang symbol.
I dreaded the return of the friend of a friend.
Surely Bonnie would be wrecked without Boots. Heck, our whole family would be wrecked. Boots’s disposition is so easy-going, we sometimes call her a “cat-dog.” She’s like a super amiable Golden Retriever in a gray tabby cat’s body.
To my great relief, the mystery man never came to claim his tiny gray tabby. Our mutual friend told us to go ahead and keep Bootsie-Lou, if we wanted. If we wanted? Ha!
So that’s how we wound up with two cats in one summer. They just happened to us and I’m so glad they did. They bring me and our whole family (and all my Facebook and Instagram friends) so much joy.
You, dear blog reader, are a lot like my two cats. In the almost two years since I published my first post, I’ve grown extremely attached to you. When I receive your comments on the blog or Facebook, I am positively giddy. As I read your feedback out loud to Tony Bear, he beams.
I didn’t know I’d fall in love with cats, but I did. I had no idea I’d enjoy writing a blog this much, but I do!
You, dear reader, are my gift.