In From the Cold

"It's like we're adopting a kid," my wife, Maureen, said to me Sunday night.  In some ways, she wasn't too far off from the truth. Over the weekend, a stay cat wandered onto her friend's property in Livonia, MI. Winter has been showing its face recently, with the overnight lows dropping into the 30s and frost covering the yards. Worried for its safety, Carolyn was able to coax the cat inside with some water and food, and it quickly became clear that the animal was starved and, judging by its thinness, had been on its own for some time. She had already been declawed and spayed, which indicated she was somebody's pet at some point, but not chipped, and she didn't have a collar or tags. Carolyn has posted flyers around her neighborhood and messages online about the lost cat, but no owner has claimed her. My wife and I have also made postings on social media sites alerting the Michigan Human Society and ASPCA, so we'll see what happens. The cat has also been to the vets for a check-up, blood-work, and a flea bath. Carolyn already has a dog and a few other cats, not to mention a toddler, so she and her husband have their hands pretty full already.  Although she's said she would keep the cat if she could, it's not really the best option for her.

So, after spending some time with the cat over the weekend, we decided to take her in.  Although reuniting her with her family is a priority, if she goes unclaimed we are definitely ready to provide her with a home.


Until this past summer, we'd been a two-cat household for a good number of years. Before we began dating, Maureen had adopted Callie and Godiva, and gave them a very good home. Towards the end of May, Godiva started getting very sick and lethargic. She refused to eat or drink, and there was a considerable change in her personality. After multiple visits to the veterinarian and little in the way of humane treatment options, we struggled with the decision but knew it was really the only correct thing to do for our suffering kitty. On June 2, we had Godiva put to sleep.  It was a very difficult choice, and lots of tears were shed, but unfortunately we had to do it in order to ease her suffering and help her leave peacefully.  The house has been a hell of a lot emptier without her...

Adjusting to a single-cat household hasn't been easy. Maureen misses Godiva a great deal, and for a long time I kept expecting our little black cat to jump up on the bed, or to come greet us at the door as was her habit when we got home from work. Callie has been forced into spending a lot of time alone in the house while Maureen and I are at work, and she hasn't been getting the amount of attention or activity she was used to. She lost her play pal, and chasing a feather on a stick (although she enjoys it pretty often!) hasn't been the same for her.

As fall began to settle in, we got some fish, mostly hoping that it would give Callie something to watch and keep her entertained while we were away.  Naturally, she could care less about them.  She'll sometimes watch them, but it seems like, so far, the fish have been more amusing for us than for her. Fish, we've learned, are also a lot more work than we expected! We've been grappling with getting a stable ecology to develop in the fish tank and balancing ammonia and nitrite levels to keep them healthy and safe. I do think we've got that figured out; the water has been keeping clear, and the fish are pretty active.


Now that we've had a bit more time to mourn Godiva, I think we're ready to bring a new cat into our lives. The decision is made a bit easier by recognizing that it will do a heck of a lot more good for this new kitty, too.  She's definitely a people cat, and if she has been abandoned, she's making every effort to get caught up on some much-deserved attention. We've decided to name her Sasha, since we have no idea what her previous name was, and when we brought her home Monday evening, Old Man Winter was knocking on our doors and windows, delivering an unpleasant wintry mix of ice-cold rain and snow.  Definitely inhospitable weather for this poor, too-thin cat to try and brave.

For the next few days, we're keeping her and Callie separated, in case she has any infectious parasites or fleas or diseases from her time in the wild. Sasha is having quite the run of her bedroom, though. There is nothing quite like the exuberance and curiosity of a young cat finding a new home, and she's certainly eager to explore the rest of the house. She's been giving Maureen and I a lot of affection and dogging our every step, refusing to let us out of her sight.  It didn't take her very long to find the bed and curl up, or to pick out some of her favorite spots. We have an empty cardboard box that had held Callie's toys, and Sasha has been rubbing her jowls on the corners of the box, making a handy face scratcher of it. She's also been rubbing up against us and getting a lot of petting and scratches, as well as plenty of food!

After a visit to the vet on Monday, we've estimated her age to be about one year, based on how little plaque has built up on her teeth. She's up-to-date on her shots, but needs to go in for a second booster in three weeks. Thankfully, she's in very good health.

I have to admit, I became attached to her pretty quickly. She's got a lot of charisma and energy! She's a very spirited cat and really enjoys being around us.  I feel bad that we had to leave her alone while we went to work today, and have been itching to get back home and spend some time with her. I worry that she'll think she's on her own again. She also had a bit of an accident Tuesday morning. We bought her a covered litter box, and I think she may have thought it was an animal carrier, like what was used to take her to the veterinarian's. It had a door flap on it, and I tried showing it to her a few times. She unloaded on the carpet instead of in the box, so I took the cover off and that seems to have solved the problem.

Sasha appears happy to have a new home, and Maureen and I are happy to have her in our lives for as long as possible. We don't know if our house will be her new forever home, but we've made every effort we can to reunite her with her family. It's a matter of wait-and-see now, and in the meantime we're intent on enjoying our time with her. We have room in our house and our hearts for this new cat, and the cat needs a nice, warm, and stable environment (especially with what looks to be a cruel winter coming upon us). I think we'll both be quite happy to share the comforts. The big hope is that her and Callie can get along. I not sure that Callie is too pleased with all of this, but they seem to be talking between the bedroom door. It'll be a few days before we properly introduce them to one another and get them acquainted. Both cats are pretty docile and laid back, so we'll see how this goes!

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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