I’m a little late to the Thanksgiving party. Living in Germany, I never realize it’s Thanksgiving until I come home and my mom has emailed me about all the delicious things she is currently making. (This year: turkey, persimmon cream pie, biscuits.)
But that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for our two kitty girls and our old man Merlin.
It’s been a year and a month since Luigi, the friendliest tabby cat in all the land, my best buddy, died. Just after that, Jenny, Andie’s special girl, became sick with an unidentified autoimmune disease and we spent six months with our hearts in our mouths before she too left us. We didn’t wait long to get Mo, because Merlin (who I am thankful for despite his annoying qualities) was driving us absolutely mad as a single kitty. I hung back, trying to let her bond with Andie first, because Merlin, bless his heart, thinks the sun rises and sets on my head.
Mo was very reserved and definitely not cuddly. She wasn’t abused in her early life, but she had no concept of liking people. She was an absolute joy to have around: she made us laugh, which was exactly what we needed, and soon our camera phones were filled with nothing but Mo pics, because look at her, you can’t not. A couple months later, she was warming up to us and especially to me after I spent a month at home after surgery. But Andie missed having a cuddly lap cat.
We had never intended to have three cats in the first place. Our apartment is small. We inherited Jenny when Andie’s mom went into a nursing home, and while it worked out, we’d always said two cats would be plenty. Slowly we started to discuss a third, though, and started to look at cat pictures on shelter pages on the Internet. We figured on a young female cat again, to reduce problems with Merlin, and we definitely needed a friendly, outgoing cat who could also hold her own with Mo – no wilting flowers need apply. And a tabby color would be icing on the cake.
Meggie and her two sisters were brought in to the rescue operation when their mother, a stray cat, was spayed and released. They were being fostered in a guest bathroom and at nearly four months old were very ready to move on to bigger things. So Andie and I squeezed in there with them and started getting to know them. They were very shy with us but affectionate with their foster mom. They really, really wanted to play, but weren’t sure about being touched – until at one point I stroked Meg’s head and she enthusiastically head-butted me. I was sold!
We brought her home and introduced her to the other two over the course of a weekend. We were so lucky, she fit in as though she were hand-crafted just for us. And she was indeed cuddly and friendly and outgoing. When our alarms go off in the morning she hops on the bed and greets us with so much joy, purring and bouncing around and licking our noses. It’s much easier to wake up these days — but a lot harder to make it out of bed. Andie had her cuddlebug.
Which left me, so to speak, with the permission to grow closer to Mo without hurting Andie’s feelings, because Mo was well on her way to being a one-person cat. A me cat. She hangs out in the same room as I am in. She sits by me on the couch, and recently, sometimes between my feet. She’ll let me turn her upside down and brush her belly (with great reluctance). Sometimes I tuck her in the crook of my arm while I’m brushing my teeth and let her whap the ceiling light with the dangling paper fixtures. When Meg greets us in the morning, Mo is there too, sitting on my nightstand.
I was so busted up about Luigi. I cried for months. We didn’t hesitate to adopt Mo shortly after Jenny died because there is always room for another cat; losing one you love doesn’t reduce the capacity to love another. But growing close with Mo has been something really special, watching her learn to trust, watching her learn that people hands and especially my hands are good for head scritches. I love seeing that giant white tail bounce around the apartment.
Here’s to the three that were, the three that are, and the three that will be.