Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ophelia, the "Temporary" Cat

Ophelia came into my life when I went to PetSmart unsupervised on my way to get pizza for dinner. Let's just say I have a weakness for animals in need. PetSmart had a wall of adoptable kittens...and while I didn't need another one, I couldn't help but notice a very small kitten in bad shape. She was black, but her coat was like a dull gray. She had a leaking eye, and ringworm. She was displayed with cute, healthy kittens in other cages, but she was all alone. The tag on her cage said "Family eaten by coyotes; found under porch, only survivor."

I was going to go home and tell my boyfriend about her and talk him into coming down to see her. At the time, we had Oscar, also a black kitten, about 6 months old then. My boyfriend wasn't interested in getting a second cat, we'd discussed it. She was smaller, and had a tail (his is naturally bobbed). I was going to walk away when she stuck both her paws out and sank her claws into me in a desperate "Don't leave!!" So I adopted her, thinking to myself that I would sneak her home in my purse, and my boyfriend wouldn't notice. Likely he'd only see one cat at a time and I could claim we only had one for a week or two, as long as it took to get her healthy, and then I could find her a permanent home elsewhere. That was my plan.

On the way home I named her Ophelia, as she was screaming and shrieking her objections at being in a box. At home I carefully placed her in my purse, and headed into the house. My boyfriend came out of the house to say hello, and Ophelia picked that moment to meow. I tried to cover it up but I could see he was curious..and then she popped her head out. He looked at her in silence for a moment, and then said "Did you at least get the pizza?" I had. He was a good sport but didn't believe me when I told him she was temporary.

She was deathly afraid of everything but dogs. She loved to be near the dogs. Maybe one protected her when she was alone, I don't know. She ate and ate and ate. She took her ringworm medication, which had to be made by a people pharmacy in a special kitty dosage. After many weeks, she let me hold her. She slowly began to play with toys, to let go of her trauma, to enjoy Oscar's attention and play kitten games with him. I decided she would stay.

She likes to hunt field mice, lay in the sun, and have her tummy rubbed. She adores being in my lap and seems drawn like a magnet to my attempts to red or use my laptop. She has a distinctive voice. In the evening she plays coy games about coming in for the night, driving me crazy. (I have to pretend I'm not interested and wait for her to approach). I can't imagine life without her, and I'm glad that her temporary time with us will be her entire lifespan...which I hope is very long indeed.

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