Like I said in Part I of this post…

 

Pretty much all my life
I’ve been a Dog Person

Not a Cat Person

Yet after countless hours of scouring the Internet

My girlfriend finally convinced me to consider the possibility
Of getting more in touch with the Felis silvestris catus side of myself

“Look,” she said one night recently
“There’s a place here in LA, Sante D’Or. They seem like the perfect place to adopt a cat.”

She was right
After some research
We found the organization to be amazing

Here’s an excerpt of their philosophy posted on their website:

The more natural our lives are, the healthier we are
Our animals are the same; they need good food, exercise, vitamins and natural healing

 

Our quest with Santé D’or is to see that animals are more understood by their human guardian

We are here to educate, provide preventative care, and protect our animals’ health
And to help you do the same…

As my girlfriend and I studied their adoption photos
We debated the pros and cons of male cats versus female cats

Clawed versus declawed cats

When we got to the kitten photos, however
All reason flew out the window
And my girlfriend began talking to the computer screen in cute adoring tones

“Oh look at you, kitties. Look at yooooooooooooou.”

Her voice had literally raised two octaves in that one moment

My head began spinning

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“I hope you’re not gonna talk like this once we get a cat, are you?” I said

My girlfriend’s voice snapped back to its normal tone:
“Oh hush.” She swatted me away from the computer

But I came back for more

“What if we end up getting a cat that tries clawing my new couch and chair to bits?”

“Don’t worry,” said my girlfriend. “When they do that you just say no and squirt them with a water gun. After that, you just take them to the scratching post and rub their little paws against it to show them what they’re supposed to do.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Seems like a lot of work. Why can’t I just tell them NO
And have them understand what I mean.”

My girlfriend gave me a look: “Now don’t get masculine about this.”

After pouring through tons of adoption photos
We narrowed our search down to three cats

Odette
Calico Jane

And Misha

The next day
My girlfriend contacted Sante D’or to arrange an interview

Later that afternoon, she phoned me and said:
“We have an appointment this Saturday to see the cats.”

I got all quiet

Quiet as a pillow orgy

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“You there?” said my girlfriend

“I’m here,” I said.

“You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”

“Oh no,” I gulped. “I’m ready. Let’s do it. Let’s adopt a cat.”

Saturday rolled up on us bigger, faster, and more menacing than a Hummer H3 on the Hollywood Freeway

As we elbowed up to within an hour of our cat adoption appointment time
My girlfriend and I rushed around the apartment

Doing dishes, sweeping the floor, trying on clothes
Taking them off and trying on others

At one point
I even caught myself in the bathroom
Clipping my nose hairs

Yep, clipping my nose hairs

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This has gone way beyond crazy, I thought

When I’m clipping nose hairs
Trying to make myself presentable for a cat adoption
I’ve definitely gone wuss

At that moment
I prayed that the ghosts of my past pet dogs couldn’t see me

Otherwise I’m sure they’d be having a raffle at that very moment
Figuring out who’d be the first one to piss on my grave
When I was dead

Still
I put those worries aside
To make sure my girlfriend and I got to our appointment on time

But once there
That’s when things got even more weird and stressful

Up close and personal with all the cats in cages
It suddenly became very tangible how so many needed to be saved

But the problem was that my girlfriend and I would only be able to save one

Then there was the whole problem of comparing one cat to another

Afraid the cats might be able to somehow understand our words
My girlfriend and I spoke in hushed tone as we moved from one cage to the next

“What do you think about this one?” I said, referring to Calico Jane

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“She’s beautiful,” said my girlfriend. “But I don’t know. She got a little mean when I tried petting her.”

Then there was Scarlette

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Very beautiful, indeed
But a little too aloof for my liking

Finally
We came across Misha
One of our three favorites from the photos we’d seen earlier in the week

The Siamese mix had hypnotic liquid blue eyes
But was a bit skittish
When we’d first tried to touch her

But eventually warmed up to us

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“What’s the story with this one?” we asked the Sante D’or woman

“Misha’s a bit of a sad case,” she said. “Her first home was with a guy who’d owned her for a couple of years. But when he got engaged to this woman, she refused to allow the cat into her home. So the guy came to us in tears having to give her up.”

“That’s terrible,” my girlfriend and I said

The woman agreed
“But it doesn’t end there,” she said
“Then a woman came along some time later and adopted Misha. But after about a year Misha and her cats weren’t getting along so she had to bring her back again.”

As the woman was relaying this story
I tried imagining what it would feel like
To be an animal with the full-on comfort and security of a family one day

And then the next day, BAM

You’re back in a cage at the same old shelter

With a bunch of other cats
Playing adoption musical chairs

The whole story made me love Misha even more
Blue eyes, abandonment issues and all

“Let’s take her,” I told my girlfriend

“You sure?” she said

The way I figured
They say it takes a village to raise a child
But my girlfriend and I
We could definitely raise a cat together

“Yeah,” I said. “Let’s do it. Let’s adopt her.”

“If you’d like,” said the Sante D’or woman. “You can take her home for a week and see how you all get along. If you feel like it’s a good match then you can come back next weekend and sign the papers.”

But I hardly heard her words
Because right then I was rushing through the store aisles

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I felt like a proud father
As I scooped up packs of cat nip

Chewable canvas teasers

Jingly balls

A laser light mouse

A feather wand

A gun that shoots catnip-scented bubbles into the air

Finally
The rescue woman rushed up behind me
“You might want to wait a week on all those things,” she said
“Until you know how the foster period goes.”

“Oh,” I said, realizing I now had an armful of cat accoutrements
“I suppose you’re right.”

The woman gave us a care package
Consisting of a week’s worth of food and litter
Misha’s favorite blanket
Some of her toys, and a cat carrier

“Good luck,” she said. “Misha’s a lovely cat. I’m sure you’ll both be very good to her.”

Once we got her home
We let her out of the carrier

As she slinked through our apartment
Sniffing and crawling beneath and around chairs and tables

My girlfriend and I quietly sat on the couch watching her

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The whole time we didn’t say a word
We couldn’t have been more mesmerized had we been drugged into a deep trance state

“Do you think she’ll like it here?” my girlfriend finally whispered in my ear

“I hope so,” I whispered back

We continued studying the cat
Observing her every move, her every reaction to her new surroundings

Whenever the cat sensed something agreeable
My girlfriend and I smiled at one another

Whenever the cat flinched because of a particular sound or scent
My girlfriend and I literally flinched ourselves

At one point I whispered:
“We need to rename her. What do you think it should be?”

My girlfriend thought about it for a moment then softly said: “How about Asha?”

“What’s that?” I said

“It’s Sanskrit,” she replied. “It means Hope.”

 

Coming Soon…Part III, Home Life

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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