Monday, May 9, 2011

New Cast Introductions (and Goodbyes) Part 1

One of the most tragic aspects of the disappearance of our cat Avie, just over one year ago, is that so much effort was put into getting her into our house in the first place. From her original rescue from the negligent assholes who had her, to the weeks she spent in the care of my mother-in-law in North Carolina as she underwent the necessary vaccinations in order to even set foot in our potentially panleukopenia-infected house, a lot of calories were burned getting her here. For nearly two years she was part of our family and we loved her dearly despite, and sometimes because of, her occasional quirks.

When we went to Florida last year, we left her in the care of some friends across town, Ruby and Turk. This was Avie's first time to be cat-sat, and I'd intended to buy her a collar with a name tag. After all, our friends had three boys and there was no guaranteeing that any of them would be as diligent in policing open doors at their house as we might be. Unfortunately, I forgot to, remembering my intention only after we'd dropped Avie off. Ruby said she'd put her cat's collar on Avie, just so there was some contact info to be had should she escape, but she forgot to as well. Phone text reports of Avie's status sounded good. But when Ruby came home on the Friday night of our vacation, she found her back door wide open and no cat to be seen.

We spent a fruitless month searching for her, and another two months after that of almost daily visits to the local animal shelter to check if she'd been turned in. Despite seeing plenty of nice looking cats there, we decided it was probably best to just stick with dogs for a while and not try and find a replacement kitty. It had been so much work to get Avie into the house in the first place, and we couldn't bring a stray in without weeks of vaccinations first. We'd been warned that the panleukopenia spores can live in the house for years and we couldn't risk having another kitten die as horribly as the kitten before Avie, Milo Soulpatch had.

A couple of months passed and during them Ruby and Turk's marriage fell apart. This had nothing to do with Avie, but was something we'd been sensing might be on the horizon for a while, but had hoped would not. Not long after they separated, Ruby announced that she'd picked up a couple of kittens from the pound--a brother and sister. I don't know if the kittens were intended to be a distraction for her kids from the problems around them, or what, but it seemed maybe not the wisest idea from my perspective. Then, a couple weeks later, Ruby announced that the kittens were not working out. It seemed that despite their litter box training, the kittens had sniffed out a place in an inaccessible corner, way behind her sofa, where a previous neighborhood cat had once taken a crap. And it was in this spot that the kittens insisted on crapping exclusively. Nothing could persuade them to stop, including relocating their litter box atop it. Ruby asked if we would like to take them off her hands, at least for a little while, until they matured enough to cut it out, if not longer. I did not want them and said so to the wife, but I also knew Ruby was under enough stress as it was and I thought it would be better to take them rather than have the kittens returned to the pound. However, I insisted that we couldn't take them until their vaccinations were complete. Ruby said they had and within a couple of days brought them over to the house.

The bigger of the two was a female with almost lilac point Siamese coloration but with no real Siamese features. Her name was Emma. The smaller male was a gray tabby named Deja Vu, because he looked a lot like a cat they'd had before. We liked the name Emma for a cat, but decided that Deja Vu would be shortened to D.J. Kitty. We played with them a bit, let the kids say goodbye to them and then we put them in the hall bathroom overnight, because introducing them to the dogs would be a gradual process.

The following morning, we put the dogs outside and let the kittens have the run of the place. We then went to breakfast. It was over a plate of Egg Beaters and turkey sausage that some math issues that had been tickling in the back of my mind floated to the front.

"How long has Ruby had the cats?" I asked the wife.

"Two weeks. Maybe three."

My heart sank. I realized the kittens could not have had their full set of three vaccinations against panleukopenia. They'd probably had one set at the pound, but it takes 21 days between each set. They might have had two, but I didn't think it was very likely. A quick call to Ruby revealed the truth. We practically screamed at her over the phone in the middle of Bob Evans. "Ruby! We can't take these cats! They have to have ALL of their shots before we can have them." Ruby swore she thought they'd had the full amount, but hadn't done the math herself. She felt horrible and said we could drop them off at her place again and she'd just keep them in her bathroom for the remaining time. This didn't really help our anxiety, though, as we'd left them with full run of our house, including all the rooms Milo Soulpatch had been in before he died.


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