Meeting Cora … and her 25 toes


Cora strikes a pose in a sunbeam.

Cora strikes a pose in a sunbeam.

Cora is a cool cat, from head to toe — all 25 of them!

We met this Hemingway polydactyl (many-toed) cat on Saturday at Shelter to Home, a cat-focused shelter located Downriver.

The trip in itself was a big deal because it was my first big excursion since a hysterectomy two weeks ago.

I had spotted Cora’s profile that morning, but didn’t say anything to Matt. It was a big enough deal that he was looking at cat profiles completely unprovoked. Pink has been gone for six months, and as much as we both agreed we would never get another cat, somehow the house seems incomplete without one.

We came upon Cora when we walked up the stairs of the Victorian home that houses the shelter. She greeted us from her spot in the upper landing’s window.

We counted at least seven toes on this paw.

We counted at least seven toes on this paw.

Cora was the first cat we saw, and our hostess wanted to keep the tour going since there were at least 14 more cats to meet. But we sat down with Cora, and let her climb on our laps. She purred as we touched her feet, the base of her tail … even her belly. Oh, what a lover.

Then Matt picked her up,

I couldn’t hear a thing through the purr machine.

Finally we broke away from Cora, and continued with the tour. We told the shelter worker about Lexie, our almost 15-year-old dog, and Charlie, our energetic 1-year-old pup. We mentioned the dog door, and emphasized that any cat we adopt will be an indoor cat. The worker seemed happy with this, and even told us about enclosed tents designed for cats if we did wish to bring our cat outside for supervised fun.

Since it was difficult for me to bend down, Matt stopped to pet a few of the felines, and played with a shy calico in the hallway. But once we got downstairs, he asked about Cora.

We started out the day looking for a high energy youthful cat who likes dogs. Cora’s energy level is best described as “chill” and it’s unclear if she’s ever seen a dog. Matt usually gravitates toward big cats, and Cora is on the teeny side. She’s also a mum who recently gave birth to four kittens.

Not exactly what we had in mind, and yet she feels the perfect fit.

This has got to be the coolest animal shelter we have visited.

This has got to be the coolest animal shelter we have visited.

We took an application, and said we would be in touch.

As we walked to the car, a smile creeped across my face. This was definitely further than I got with Lola the tortie cat.

When we got home Saturday, I filled out the application.

Of course once I was done, Matt got cold feet.

“I’m not sure. I’m not ready. I don’t know if Cora is the right cat,” he nervously said.

I signed my name at the bottom of the application, and let him talk. The next day, I disclosed my plan of action.

Before we make a final decision, I want to bring Charlie in to meet Cora.

Matt agreed.

So now I will send in our application and wait.

We’ll be on our toes, and ready to go.

FurFamHORZNTL

Close encounter


After thinking on it for a week, Matt and I packed Charlie in the car today and drove up to PetCo for a meet-and-greet with Lola.

The tortie kitten was sleeping in her cage when we arrived. I poked at her back through the cage bars, and the rescue volunteer came up to see if we needed help.

Lola, a sweet tortie.

Lola, a sweet tortie.

I explained we spotted Lola last week, and that we wanted to see her up close and personal. Also, we brought our dog to make sure they were compatible.

The man opened the cage door and grabbed Lola by the nape of her neck. He pulled her in close to his chest, but invited me to pet her.

We chit-chatted. I told him that we were expert cat owners. I shared about Pink, and how we lost her to kidney disease last fall. I explained Charlie loved Pink, that they often played and even slept together.

Matt lifted Charlie up in the air and gently pushed his snout toward Lola. Both of them seemed nonplussed. No big deal at all.

I reached in and rubbed Lola again. I was wondering if he was ever going to let me hold her. I pushed my hand  between her and the adoption guy, and he pulled her closer.

“How about if I put her down so Charlie can sniff her?” he asked.

I thought it was odd that he clearly didn’t want me to hold the cat, but that he was going to let Charlie and Lola interact.

He put Lola down, and Charlie hid behind Matt’s knees. No signs of aggression at all.

The man encouraged us to fill out an adoption application, or to do it online when we got home. I felt odd about filling put an application for a cat I never got to hold. How would I know if she would cuddle me??

We agreed that we would think about it.

As we walked away, we were surprised to see Angry Eyebrows run up to him. We wondered if she had told him about our dog door.

On the drive home, we discussed our options. Matt was upfront. He didn’t think we were ready for a cat.

You’re about to have surgery,” he said to me. “I have concerns about the cat jumping on your stomach, or even about the cleanliness of another animal in the house as you recover.”

I understood. I wondered if it would be too much transition right before I was out of commission for six weeks. How fair would it be to get a cat (that I wanted) and to expect Matt to care for it while I recuperated? Not that Matt wouldn’t want to care for Lola, but I believe if I’m going to get an animal, it should be a joint effort to care for it. And if I know I’m going to be down-for-the-count for six weeks, why not wait until I am healthy enough to coparent?

We would not be adopting Lola.

This decision made me sad, but in the end I felt it was the best for this sweet kitten.

I know the right cat will come to me.

And at the next close encounter, I will be ready.

FurFamHORZNTL

Smitten kitten


So we needed puppy treats. I swear.

Lola wonders what's taking us so long. "Adopt me, already!"

Lola wonders what’s taking us so long. “Adopt me, already!”

And that meant we got to see the cats on display at PetCo. Matt and I both walked right up to Lola, a 7-month-old tortoiseshell kitten. She was curled up in a ball, snoozing away. We stuck our fingers through the cage and ruffled her tri-colored fur.

Lola sleepily tossed her head over her shoulder and looked me over with one eye. She slinked her body a few inches so she could get a better look. I slid my finger under her chin, and rubbed. She closed her eyes and purred.

This was one smitten kitten.

“She’s cute,” Matt said. “I bet she’d love playing with Charlie. She’d probably keep him in line!”

I imagined Lola running through the house, maybe batting Charlie in the face then scurrying off to hide. I’m sure Lexie would be nonplussed.

It’s been five months since Pink died. At the time we swore we wouldn’t get another cat for 10 years. So much for promises. I can feel our resolve slowly giving way.

We couldn't get Lola to look straight at us for a photo, so this is a pic of the profile photo on her cage.

We couldn’t get Lola to look straight at us for a photo, so this is a pic of the profile photo on her cage.

The adoption papers indicated Lola was with a family until one of the children became allergic to her. What caught our eyes the most was the following comment: “I love to talk, as most torties do.”

I wondered what this meant, so I Googled it. Apparently, tortie cats are known to be especially verbal,  through meows, purrs and hisses. I looked at Lola in that cage. I couldn’t elicit any sort of sound from her. I was curious about what her meow sounds like.

I also found out that tortie cats are believed to be good luck, and sometimes are referred to as  money cats. Seriously. Can anyone give me one reason why we shouldn’t consider this cat??

I thought about her curled up on my lap, especially as I recuperate from my upcoming hysterectomy. She looked like a total snuggle bunny. Since I’m guessing the dogs most likely won’t be welcome anywhere near my lap, a little kitten sounds like the perfect recovery buddy.

As Matt took dozens of photos of Lola, I scribbled down the contact information for the adoption agency. I leaned in close to take a video and … oh my, WHAT’S THAT SMELL???

Lola casually gave us a look that reassured that it was not her. She did not just take a humongous poop while we were fawning over her. The tenants downstairs are an embarrassment, she said with her green eyes.

We peeked down below, and the black cat seemed pleased with himself.

Once we got in the car, I looked up Lola’s profile on the adoption agency’s website. I’m nervous about possibly adopting another cat. But I am curious about this one.

It looks like the next step is to fill out an application to set up a meet-and-greet.

We’ll keep you posted.

FurFamHORZNTL

Snow, sleep and kittens!


Charlie surveys his first snowfall.

Charlie surveys his first snowfall. (Photo by Bryan Bogater)

Special note: We got caught up in the holiday excitement, and just realized we haven’t posted a blog in a while. Today’s entry should get us all caught up. Happy New Year!

Christmas came a day late for Charlie, but he says it was well worth the wait.

Mother nature delivered his first snow.

In all honesty, my brother has ordered up the storm. He flew in from Ft. Lauderdale earlier in the day, and had specifically requested a sizable amount of snow. He told me if he had to be in freezing temperatures while visiting me, the least I could do is provide a scenic snowy backdrop.

So once we returned from the airport with Bryan, snowflakes began to fall. Charlie hopped up on the couch, and watched through the front window. His eyes grew pensive, as he pressed his brown nose against the glass.

Charlie romps in the snow.

Charlie romps in the snow.

What is that white stuff falling from the sky?

It was dark by the time we had several inches on the ground. Matt and walked out back with Charlie to see his reaction. He pranced through the yard, occasionally stopping to grab a mouthful of snow. As we pretended to snatch him up, Charlie ran full tilt, losing traction in the snow as he tried to replicate his usual tight corners.

Lex stepped delicately in the snow, and did her best to avoid Charlie as he flew by.

With the snow came some interesting developments.

First, our sand-in-the-house problem instantly disappeared! We now can walk barefoot inside, and no longer build sand castles on our couch.

Second, dog toys started disappearing. Then reappearing … covered in snow. At first it was a collection of squeaky toys. The hedgehog and the chipmunk, specifically. They were gone, then a day later reappeared as a snowball on the couch. Interestingly, Charlie switched it up to include his Nylabones and a deer antler.

Apparently, he prefers his chewies chilled, thank you very much.

Lounging Lexie

It seems that Lex has fully recovered from her vertigo scare. And while she has not had any more dizzy spells, she spends most of her time sleeping, these days. Her favorite spot has become a high-back chair in the front room, closest to the heat register. When she curls up on the chair, I cover her with a blanket, and she’s instantly out.

Lex snags one of Charlie's frozen Nylabones.

Lex snags a frozen Nylabone.

When she’s awake, Lexie has amazed us with her energy. She’s eating well, and consistently, and often has enough energy to instigate a wrestling match with Charlie.

When Matt spoke with our vet for the vertigo follow-up visit, she said Lexie’s kidney values are within healthy range, but on the high end of normal. She said this meant we did a great job with her special kidney diet, but that we have to keep a close eye on her. Considering Lex had one paw in the grave just six months ago, I call this a victory.

In the last couple weeks, Lex has really turned into a snuggle bug. Now that she can hop up on the couch on her own power again, she will tuck herself tight next to Matt or me. When she’s wanting to melt hearts, she’ll gently place her snout on my chest and stare up at me. Awwwe.

Smitten with kittens

In the last month or so, when Matt and I go to PetSmart or Petco, the first thing I do is make a beeline for the cat display. Both pet stores provide space to local rescue organizations for cat adoptions.

After losing Pink last fall, Matt and I both agreed that we would not get another cat. For 10 years, we said.

Some ginger cuties I spotted at Petco.

Some ginger cuties I spotted at Petco.

It’s funny how looking at those sweet fuzzy faces can makes our resolve dissolve.

I’ve secretly been taking photos of cute kittens for a couple months. And now I can’t disguise my excitement when it’s time to see the kitties. Matt always indulges me, but tonight a certain little kitten stole our hearts.

He was a small grey and white striped kitten, full of spunk and spasms. He saw us looking at him, and put on his best cute kitten show. We fell hard, and Matt noted he’d probably get along with Charlie.

“You should see if we can have a visit with him,” Matt said.

I almost fell over, but ran to a store associate before he changed his mind. It ends up the rescue organization only has meet-and-greets on the weekends, so we’ll have to come back.

The little fuzzball may the the one. Or maybe not. But I cannot lie. I’ve got kitten love in my heart again. Meow.

FurFamHORZNTL

Tell us your love story


Our Furever Family wants to hear your adoption stories! The best ones will receive a coffee mug.

Our adoption journey was filled with triumphs, challenges and heartbreak … and ultimately led us to Charlie. It’s been three months since we’ve adopted this spunky border collie mix, and we’ve enjoyed sharing his (mis)adventures with you.

Now that we have Charlie, it’s easy to forget the road we traversed to get him. First we fell in love with Ranger, then he fell through our fingers. Then the meet-and-greet was bungled with Demi, a cute-but-troubled border collie mix. We found Charlie on a website, and even though he was fostered in Kentucky, we took a chance on the pup who stole our hearts. The rest is history.

Now we want to hear your story, whether it was through adoption, an accidental meeting or another way of finding each other. How did you fall in love? Tell us how your pet came into your life in 500 words or less.

Eligibility requirements:

  • The pet must be a member of your family.
  • Be sure to include a photo.
  • You must be a subscriber to Our Furever Family. For directions on how to follow this blog, see instructions at the bottom of this page.

The best stories will receive an Our Furever Family coffee mug that we had specially designed for our fans.

Send your submissions to ourfureverfamily@gmail.com.

We’re glad you are part of Our Furever Family. And we look forward to learning more about yours.

If you would like to receive email notifications when Our Furever Family publishes a new blog entry, please go to the home page and click on “Email subscriptions” in the right nav. Thanks for joining our journey!

Rescuing Pink (Floyd)


For the first four years I’ve had Pink (Floyd), I hardly saw her. She holed up in the basement, probably decompressing from the hoarding situation I saved her from, and partly trying to figure out what to do about those two pesky pups that lived on the main floor.

Pink was a rescue. Literally.

Lex steals a kiss from Pink.

A girlfriend of mine called me over one day to say her elder hippie neighbors had taken off for the west coast and left Pink behind. Apparently they had drugged the cat for the trip, and she crawled into a small dark spot and drifted off … and shortly afterward, when the hippies couldn’t find Pink, so did they.

Almost three weeks later, my friend spotted Pink in an upstairs window, and using a key the hippies left behind, she went in and grabbed her. She invited me over to show me this skinny, inquisitive tuxedo cat, and I fell in love. I needed to have her right away!

Did I mention I am terribly allergic to cats?

Well, the first six months were rough. And I was grateful she was more comfortable in a secret location somewhere in the basement. I sneezed a lot, fought hives and used my albuterol inhaler. Then something magical happened. She stopped getting under my skin.

Eventually she was curious enough to hang out on the first floor of my house longer than it took to scarf down her food. She cautiously checked out the dogs. Lex tentatively approached Pink, and customarily sniffed her butt. Pink froze and fluffed out. Lili, my late sausage-like cocker spaniel, broke up the lovefest by barreling toward them maniacally barking.

In an instant, Pink was gone.

And so the drill went. Sometimes Lex was snuggled up in a nap with Pink, and Lili would disapprovingly charge them, sending Pink packing for refuge in the basement. As chaotic as this sounds, it became their routine. Even at the end of Lili’s life, when she was very sick and frail, she would take one step toward Pink and attempt a growl. Pink would stand a second longer, and feign fear before sauntering into the kitchen.

Pink atop her new kitty condo.

In preparation of bringing another dog into the house, Matt and I decided to buy a cat tree. A cat condo, if you will. A simple wood structure covered in carpet, providing perches and hiding spots.

For some reason, Matt and I found these things quite silly. But now that Lili is gone, and Pink spends the majority of her time in the front room with us, we thought maybe we missed the point. We started staking out the area pet stores, and searching online.

In the end, we settled on a cat tree that stands about 3-1/2 feet tall, covered in light beige carpet. It has two cradling perches, and a cat cave of sorts. Matt and I worried if she would even use it at all, but we had a secret weapon … catnip. After setting it next to the fish tank, Matt took small pinches of catnip and sprinkled each perch. Then we placed Pink on top of the tree, and that was it. She rolled, and rollicked and purred. We had never seen her behave like that before. The good news is that even without the catnip, she now uses it every day.

Clearly we had waited too long to get her one of these contraptions. I foolishly thought it was enough for her to have the basement landscape, or the window in the spare bedroom. She wanted a safe space to hang out in the front room so she could be part of the family. Awwe.

And now that a puppy may be on the way, the timing couldn’t be better.

NEXT: Scouting a new pup.

Losing ground


Matt and I spent  most of our camping trip avoiding the obvious topic: Ranger.

I think I brought him up twice to test the waters, but Matt was lukewarm. I couldn’t read him at all. I knew I risked him losing the connection with Ranger as the week went on, but I also knew repeatedly asking Matt how he felt could tip the scales in the no-dog direction.

But once we got back home, one thing was clear: We were going to visit Ranger again.

Matt discovers Ranger is food-motivated.

The day after we returned, we drove out to the humane society with our dog Lexie so she could meet Ranger. A young volunteer held Ranger’s leash as we walked around the parking lot, closely watching the two dogs interact. It was mostly benign stuff, with Ranger wanting to play more than the elder Lex, and he got a good butt sniff in too, to which she did not object. I called this a success. Matt was feeling the love.

We walked up to the adoption station, then Matt got cold feet.

“I didn’t know we were going to get him today! I feel like you are rushing me!” he said.

I found this surprising considering I had spent an hour prepping a crate the night before. But not wanting to spoil the entire transaction, I put a 24-hour hold on Ranger and we went home.

The next morning we woke up with clarity and new resolve. We would adopt Ranger. I waited until the shelter opened, and placed a call, excitedly telling them I would be by in an hour to adopt him.

Once we arrived, we immediately were told that Ranger had to pass “the cat test” since we have a cat at home. They offered to use a shelter cat for the interaction, and we were all for it. Ranger was a gently fella, and he would no doubt pass. We were told to wait in the hallway and that someone would lead us to the test room. After waiting 20 minutes, a young woman asked us if we “were the ones here for Ranger” and took us into a back room. After a few minutes, one of the volunteers said the regular cat used in this test was not available so instead they brought in an 8-week-old black kitten, which was quickly placed in a cage in the corner of the room. Moments later, the other volunteer brought in Ranger and the test was on.

Ranger steals a kiss.

Being a German short-haired pointer, he did the expected — he pointed. No growling, no barking, just a solid, unbroken point. The volunteers tittered, took furious notes and talked as if we were not in the room. They noted that a bad reaction to a cat could cause his heart to race and possible break loose a heartworm. Just looking at a cat could kill him, they said. I looked at him shaking, pointing, and wondered what damage they were causing to his heart with this stupid cat test. They quietly observed that he wouldn’t break his gaze. I could tell from the look on their faces that their collective armchair opinion was not good. They allowed Ranger to close in on the kitten as it hissed and swiped with its claws. The kitten was taken out of the cage and left to fend for itself in a corner. At 9 months old, I’m guessing this could have been Ranger’s first exposure to a kitten. A crazed, pissy one at that. Ranger never lost composure. But he never stopped pointing either.

After about 40 minutes of this, the volunteers declared the test over and without telling us the results pointed us to the front desk so we could continue the adoption process. So we walked up front and were told to sit at an adoption table. In the next 30 minutes of waiting, we burned some time by strolling through a small pet store in the lobby, guessing at which toys Ranger would love the most. We also confessed relief that we made it to the adoption table. The girls in the cat test were less than encouraging. I could feel them judging us, marking us as not good enough.

Finally we were called over to a table by a woman who greeted us with a bag of dog food. Suddenly I knew we were golden. Once you get the bag of food, they are ready to send you out the door with the pup. But she quickly excused herself and was replaced by a solemn-looking lady. Our hearts dropped.

The woman quickly told us that the staff was concerned because Ranger did not do well in the cat test, and performed similarly in the meet-and-greet with Lexie. We demanded to see the paperwork, and she said it was lost; all she had to go off of was a quick text from the kid who conducted the dog interaction. Matt and I looked at each other incredulously. She leaned in for effect. “Since Ranger has heartworm, we only have one shot at this.” She all but said that she thought we would kill Ranger if we brought him home, and that they just couldn’t authorize the adoption. She asked us to wait another 24 hours so they could consult a professional behavioralist.

The air in my lungs was gone. I looked at Matt, and we walked past the bag of food on the table.

On the long drive home, I called the shelter and said we would pass on Ranger.

I couldn’t believe I was walking away from a dog that I already imagined was mine. The bowl of water already was set out. The crate, set up. It had nothing to do with the dog and everything to do with the cumulative experience we had with the animal shelter. We got the sense they just didn’t want us to have the dog, and honestly, they zapped our fight.

We knew in time, we would be ready to look again.

NEXT: Trying private adoption.