Cat Cora: Battle Homecoming


Cora studies the front room from the comfort of her box.

Cora studies the front room from the comfort of her box.

I worried about finding Cora the right toy to comfort her as she settled into our home.

But in the end, it was something simple that brought her the most pleasure: a cardboard box.

Of course, I’ve seen the “cat trap” memes showing cats shoving themselves into shoeboxes, but it never occurred to me that Cora might enjoy one herself. Pink was never into boxes at all. So after I heard her plaintive mews from the spare bedroom, I put a small box on the bed.

She didn’t even give a second thought before walking right in and curling up.

Cora greets a curious Charlie from the safety of a box.

Cora greets a curious Charlie from the safety of a box.

We let her stay in the box as we introduced her to our dogs, Charlie and Lexie. (The dogs were eager to see what the hubbub was all about, until they realized: “Oh, it’s just a cat? Huh.” Their nonresponse was a great, unexpected victory.)

Once Cora acclimated to the spare bedroom, we brought her out in the box, and introduced her to the front room. After a while she hopped up on the couch with Matt, and watched the traffic fly by on Nine Mile.

Then she climbed on my lap, just long enough for me to count six toes on her front left paw, and seven toes on her right. I also discovered her sweet spot: right at the base of her tail. A couple scratches there started the purr machine.

At this point the dogs are operating like everything’s normal, and Cora is holding court in her box, along with a handmade blanket and toy provided by Shelter to Home, the cat-focused rescue where we found her.

Miss Cat Cora has arrived, and she’s the cat’s meow. Especially with her many, many toes.

Cora settles on on top of my sewing table.

Cora settles on top of my sewing table.

Earlier in the day, as we wrapped up our adoption, the volunteers at Shelter to Home lined up to say goodbye to Cora. She had been with them almost a year, and it was clear she would be deeply missed.

Shelley, who personally fostered Cora and her four kittens, told us about how Cora also mothered orphaned kittens once her own babies were adopted. It was a bittersweet day to see Cora leave the shelter, she said.

But just as Cora has been so generous with her love, we hope to return the favor.

FurFamHORZNTL

Advertisements

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

Vertigo


Lexie shakes off the dizziness. She's ready for another nap.

Lexie shakes off the dizziness. She’s ready for another nap.

It’s amazing how quickly things can fall apart.

Lex had just hopped up on the couch, and collapsed in my lap. The toxic smell of charcoal fluid washed over me. I leaned over, and could smell it all over her back. When I quickly put her on the floor and ushered her to the bathroom for a bath, she stumbled, and pulled her front left paw into her side. Her head jerked, and violently turned to the side.

Something was terribly wrong.

I frantically washed her, but discovered the fluid was only on her back, not in her mouth. I was terribly confused.

“We have to get her to emergency vet,” I told Matt, as he held her up.

We rushed her to the vet, and I silently wondered if I would return home without her.

The vet instantly ran some blood work, and came back with an unexpected development. Her kidney levels were healthy, all within range. When I explained how she was diagnosed with kidney failure last summer, and that she almost died, he said she most likely had acute failure. And this is something a dog can recover from, which apparently she has.

Then the vet offered his diagnosis. Lexie had vertigo, an intense dizziness that causes stumbling and twitchy movement. It’s unclear what caused the condition, but he said her dementia may have played a role.

Also, the charcoal fluid was a red herring. She most likely had a dizzy spell and fell on the bottle, which I had left on the ground.

Lexie paced the small vet room, as the doctor explained treatment options. She leaned into the wall, and walked all four corners, over and over again. The vet gave her a sedative so she would get some reprieve from the pacing, along with an antibiotic and a motion sickness medication.

Several hundred dollars later, we were headed home, Lex nodding off in the back seat.

Today, she is exhausted, and still experiencing the effects of the sedative. She had trouble standing on her own, and needs to be carried down the stairs so she can go outside.

It’s hard to know if she’ll come out of this, or what our next steps are. Lex is 14-and-a-half years old. She’s a gracious elder pup, who has lived a phenomenal life. She’s excelled as a big sister to Charlie, and a teacher to everyone around her.

As quickly as things fell apart, I’m desperately trying to piece everything back together.

I believe she’s still got something to give, and I still have a lot to learn.

FurFamHORZNTL

Dirt season


Charlie cleans up the evidence after Lexie stormed through the kitchen. It was a tasty job.

Charlie cleans up the evidence after Lexie stormed through the kitchen. It was a tasty job.

Matt brushed at the sand collecting on the couch cushions.

“This is awful!” he exclaimed. “The dogs are tracking in mud every time they go outside. This place is filthy!”

I knew it was time to tell Matt. I sat down next to him, and took a deep breath.

“Since you are a relative newcomer to the house, I think it’s time we had a talk,” I said, gently placing my hand on his leg for emphasis. “In my home, there are only two seasons: dirt and dirt-free. In the fall and spring, the dogs track in all sorts of mud and sand. The trade off is that when the snow falls, and in the summer when the grass grows, we get a reprieve.”

Matt looked at me like I was a crazy woman.

“You want me to get used to this?” he asked, incredulous.

“Winter’s just a couple weeks away,” I said, looking out the front window. “Snow is just around the corner.”

Just then we heard an explosive boom, followed by what seemed like a zillion pieces of hail landing on the kitchen floor. As I ran to the hallway I just about tripped over Lexie, who was uncharacteristically moving fast. Her feet slipped on the wood floor as her momentum pushed her past me.

I glanced into the kitchen, and saw the wreckage of her run. She had cut the corner by the stove a bit too close, and made a direct hit on Charlie’s puppy kibble. That was the boom. When she hit the bowl, it sent pieces of food throughout the kitchen like confetti.

Charlie didn’t miss a beat. He arrived within seconds, and authoritatively surveyed the scene. He gave a couple quick sniffs, and quickly came up with a game plan. He would start from the outside, and work his way back toward the bowl.

Seeing Charlie had a plan of attack, I returned to Matt on the couch.

Where's the broom?!?

Where’s the broom?!?

“Do I even want to know what happ…” he started to say. I put up my hand and told him I had the situation under control. If I had any luck, Charlie would have the mess cleaned up by the time I was finished convincing Matt the snow fairy would visit that evening.

Matt grabbed the broom, which has taken a permanent spot in our living room during dirt season, and started sweeping at the tsunami of sand at my feet.

“Look!” he said pointing down at a small pile of sand. “I’ve only taken one swipe, and look at all of that dirt!”

I felt the confession would be enough. That it’s just the way our house operates. Dirt season stinks, but there’s no way around it, aside from wiping the dogs’ paws each time they come in. With a dog door, that’s nearly impossible.

But it was too much for Matt. He was unprepared. It was clear I should have briefed him weeks before. But now we were blinded by a sandstorm in our own home.

I took the broom, and finished sweeping the room. I didn’t mention that it was my third time sweeping that day.

And when Matt wasn’t looking, I said a small prayer for snow.

FurFamHORZNTL

Daddy’s little helper


Charlie heard that cuddling is the best medicine. Matt  says he agrees.

Charlie heard that cuddling is the best medicine. Matt says he agrees.

Matt woke up Thursday morning to a nagging migraine.

While he had experienced headaches before, this one seemed different. It lasted all day, and by evening he grew nauseous. I left to go to a meeting, and by the time I returned Matt was very sick. He had vomited several times while I was gone, and felt terrible.

As the night went on, his condition grew worse. And Charlie worried.

I could hear Matt heaving in the bathroom, and went to check on him. I stood at the door, peeking in, and Charlie nosed the door open, softly walking toward Matt. “Charlie NO!” I said, but it was too late. He walked to where Matt lay curled around the toilet, gently rubbed his nose on his hand, then sat down.

He wasn’t leaving.

While Matt grew sicker, he refused to go to the doctor. So I went to bed and hoped for the best. As I slept, Matt grew seriously ill, back spasms gripping his body, followed by violent retching sessions. Matt later told me he never got a wink of sleep, and that Charlie never left his side.

By morning, I found Matt laying face down on the bathroom floor. Charlie sat nearby, his brown ears pulled back, his puppy lips pursed.

Matt finally agreed to get medical care.

I called in sick, filled Charlie’s purple KONG with liver treats, then rushed Matt to the hospital.

Matt quickly was diagnosed with kidney stones, and eventually was kept for overnight observation. After about six hours, I took a break to run home to grab some toiletries, and to check on the dogs. Charlie greeted me tentatively, and looked out the front window looking for Matt. I quickly grabbed what I needed, fed the dogs and drove back to the hospital.

About 12 hours later (around 4 a.m.) I decided to run home to grab a bit of sleep. Both dogs were staring out the front window when I pulled up. Charlie hugged my legs with his paws, and softly cried. I had never heard him do that before, and my heart melted. I pulled Charlie into my arms and held him as he continued to whimper. I whispered in his ear.

“Daddy’s gonna be all right. Daddy loves you.”

He anxiously licked my nose.

Amazingly, after leaving the dogs alone for 12 hours the house was in perfect condition. I was grateful for that gift, and promptly slept for about three hours.

At 8 a.m. I woke up, and spoke with Matt. The doctors were filling out his discharge paperwork, so I could come get him. I was gone just a few hours, and Lex and Charlie were dutifully watching out the window when we returned.

The first thing we noticed was the fluff. Everywhere. It took me a moment to realize what happened, then Matt screamed out confirmation.

“You ate the bleepin’ comforter!!!” he screamed at Charlie.

Charlie dropped to his stomach, and wiggled his way out of the room.

After everything we had just been through, I was pretty sure a tore up comforter was the least of our worries. Matt grabbed the blanket, and threw it down into the basement.

Charlie trotted after Matt, following him to the couch.

“C’mon,” Matt said, patting the cushion next to him.

Without hesitation, Charlie in one motion hopped up and snuggled into Matt’s side.

Charlie was glad to have his daddy home.

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!

FurFamHORZNTL

Looking for Love Stories


Basil earned an Our Furever Family mug for sharing the story of how he found his Mummy.

Our adoption journey was filled with triumphs, challenges and heartbreak … and ultimately led us to Charlie. It’s been six 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.

We’ve enjoyed hearing your stories, and our fans want more! 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!

Lexie’s first love


Lexie and Lili on top of pillow mountain.

Long before Charlie, Lexie had another love in her life.

Lili was a barrel-shaped black-and-tan cocker spaniel, with a penchant for licking anything. Hence the nickname Lili the Licker.

I rescued Lili from my former partner’s relative, who could not care for her anymore. Before I got her, Lili spent a good portion of her first year cooped up in a bathroom; after I brought her home I would often find her curled up in front of our toilet.

Lili stands guard at base camp.

The bond between Lex and Lili was fast and fierce. They followed each other through the house, and cuddled up together on the couch for a nap. Together they both learned what it meant to go camping, and the freedom of chasing wild animals through the woods.

And then there was what I’ll call “The Kissing Game.” Aah, yes. At first guests would find it charming. “Oh look, they’re kissing!” they would say, pointing at Lex and Lili’s makeout session. But after a few minutes, the mood would turn awkward. The feverish licking continued. And then, a couple minutes more — and they would still be going at it like a couple of teenagers, um, in heat.

“Go get a dog house,” I would cry out, pulling them apart, as my guests averted their eyes. Clearly I needed to have a talk with the girls about appropriate behavior when we had friends over.

They loved taking walks together. In all kinds of weather. This led to various accessories, ranging from doggie rain coats to Mutt-Luk booties to keep salt from bothering their tender paws. Once I snapped the leashes on them, Lex and Lili knew only one speed: GO! I was that person, both arms outstretched, blindly following two dogs trying out for a mush team.

Lili was a delicate flower. She had allergies that would cause her to break out in terrible sores. And then there were the ear infections. It was such a terrible case, that even her allergist could not prevent her from going deaf. We tried everything, including feeding her venison I bought at a wild game shop. I’d say there were moments when her allergies would subside, but inevitably they would return, raging out of control.

Even with her smelly ears, Lili was the only one for Lexie. She never turned her nose, and always snuggled in a bit closer.

Lili and Jilli wait for a summer storm.

What many people don’t know is that Lili was an expert crooner. The moment I walked out of eyesight, whether out into the front yard or into the next room, Lili would start winding up. It went something like: “woo-wooo-Woo-Wooo-WOO-WOOO-WOOOOO!”

The first time I heard her howl I thought she had broken a leg. My heart raced as I ran back into the house, only to find her happily panting. It was the beginning of a lifetime of false alarms. Fool me once, fool me a thousand times!

Lex and Lili were like an old married couple. They waited for each other before climbing the stairs to go to bed. They ate at the same time. They peed in unison on walks. Their bond was unbreakable.

Our last photo together.

So when Lili died, I was unsure if Lexie would survive.

For days, Lex curled up on Lili’s smelly pillow. She moped, and didn’t eat. She lost weight. But eventually she started showing interest in the world again. A year passed, and I’m sure she was convinced she would finish her days as a spinster.

Then Charlie came along.

Love is tender and unpredictable. And love has found Lexie again.

Lili would want that.

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!