Crazy Cat Person Status Achieved!

If you’ve seen any of my social media accounts recently, you’ll know that Mark and I recently welcomed two new kittens into our home.  Yes, that’s right – we now have four cats in our home. We have officially achieved “crazy cat person” status.  But what I want to talk about is not that we adopted more cats – it’s how we got to this point.  This has been a unique situation for me and Mark, with lots of ups and downs.

In January, we lost our little nugget Orla to FIP.  It has been the hardest pet lost I have ever had to face.  This has also been a difficult situation because Mark and I knew we still wanted a third cat – we adopted Orla because Max is getting too old to keep up with Minerva.  It was difficult for us to take the steps towards adopting another cat, and yet this was something we still wanted to do.

I’ve never been in this situation before.  As a child, I lost pet fish and hamsters, and although that kind of loss can be pretty devastating for a young child, those kinds of pets are easy to “replace”.  You still love and cherish the one you lost, but it was so easy to go down to the pet store and get another fish/hamster to fall in love with.  And the fact that they have such short life expectancies meant I wasn’t quite as attached.

But it’s different with a pet like a cat or a dog.  They live longer and they’re more involved in your life – they’re not just pets, but members of the family.  When Toffee passed in May, it really felt like losing a family member because he had been with us for so long.  But, because of is age, we were prepared for the loss.  And since I have not lived with my mother and sister for a few years, it was somewhat “easy” to process my grief fairly quickly because I was not noticing his absence in my day to day routine.  It was only when I visited my family that their place felt empty.

Losing Orla has definitely been harder on me.  We planned on having her around for years and years, and there was a noticeable hole in our lives when she was gone.  Max, our oldest cat, became depressed, and Mark and I miss seeing her around the house.  We still think about her every day and we still miss her deeply. So how do you go about getting another cat after a loss like this?

As luck would have it, we had plenty of opportunities to meet new cats throughout our grieving process.  The first meeting happened perhaps a little too soon after losing Orla, but I figured the meeting would be good for us either way.  The way I saw it, even though we might not yet be ready to adopt again, at least meeting other cats might help to lift our spirits or help us to process some of our grief.  So when the lovely people at OSCatR mentioned a potential kitty we might like, we decided to at least meet him.  Azure, and his foster brother Enoki, were lovely playmates and we enjoyed meeting them, but it was too soon after Orla.  And Orla had been such a perfect fit for our family that it seemed like no other cat would ever measure up. In fact, I still think that.  I doubt any cat will ever come close to Orla’s unique personality.  Although we decided not to adopt Azure, I am happy to report that he and Enoki found their “furever” home not long after.

A few days later, Mark and I decided to check out an OSCatR adoption event that was being hosted at a pet store.  They had two cats there – Lexington and a tabby cat (whose name I’ve since forgotten) – and this event helped me to realize some things about my grief.  It was hard to really get to know the cats as they were in their crates and a little freaked out about being inside of a pet store, but I was at least able to meet them.  The tabby is gorgeous, and I think I fell in love with his looks more than his personality (he has since found his “furever” home).  Lexington, although a good looking cat himself, is a black cat.  He made me cry.  It was hard to be around Lexington knowing that Orla could have gotten that big had she not gotten sick.  I realized in that moment that even though I like black cats, I think it will be a long time before I am ready to bring another one into my life.  All black cats seem to remind me of Orla.

Based on our experiences last time, Mark and I decided we wanted to have a Valentine’s Date Night at the Feline Cafe again.  As always, it was a lovely date night; the treats were delicious, the staff was friendly, and I think the décor and event organization had eve improved since last year.  As always, I would highly recommend this fun date night in support of Furry Tails Cat Rescue. There was only one problem: out of the six cats in the cafe, four of them were black.  And, to make matters worse, one of them looked a lot like Orla.  I ended up crying A LOT.  Most of the black cats were pending adoption, and out of the two non-black cats, only one there was not pending adoption.  Her name was Angela, and she is a lovable, grumpy lady who liked when I pet her – just not on the tummy.  I found myself drawn to Angela simply because she is the opposite of Orla in a lot of ways.  I fell in love with her, and she let me snuggle her most of the night while I cried on the floor of the Feline Cafe.  Thankfully, she too has found her “furever” home.

Next on the list of cat/pet related activities was a pet loss support group.  We had already met our soon-to-be fur babies a few days prior, but more on that later.  Not too long after Orla passed, we learned that the Ottawa Humane Society holds a pet loss support group once a month led by a grief counselor.  This was something that Mark and I both really wanted to do, and it was something we needed to do. Personally, I found the experience very helpful, and I would recommend it for anyone who has experienced the loss of a beloved fur baby.

The counselor taught us about grief and helped us to understand that many of our thoughts and behaviours after experiencing these losses are perfectly normal.  I learned a lot of interesting things about the process of grief, but I think what was most helpful was that he mentioned people who adopt rescues seem more likely to get another pet because of the mentality that there are other animals out there who need a safe and loving home.  This definitely helped me to feel less guilty about wanting another cat.  I also found it interesting to see where other people were in their different stages of grief.  As we all shared stories about our fur babies, we heard from a couple who had lost their cat very recently, as well as a woman who had lost her cat a few months ago.  I found it helpful that Mark and I were more in the middle of the cat-loss timeline.  We could see how far we had come, as well as how far we still had to go. All in all, it was a very informative night.

So, how did we end up with two new kittens when we sought out to find just one new cat? Shortly after losing Orla, we were put in touch with one of the fosters from OSCatR who had also lost cats to FIP.  Although this had been arranged solely for emotional support, it wasn’t long before the foster mom told us that she and her partner would be fostering a litter of kittens.  And soon after that, she had already identified a sweet little boy who she thought would fit in well with our family.  Additionally, due to her own experiences with FIP, she was confident that a cat with his kind of personality would be just what we needed after losing Orla.

We liked what we saw in the pictures and videos that were sent our way, and when he was old enough, we were allowed to visit him.  Needless to say we fell in love with him. And we fell in love with one of his foster brothers too.  So, after much deliberation and planning, we figured out a way to make it work and brought two new fur babies home with us on the weekend. Meet Finn and Bubs! Both of them are snuggly little troublemakers who keep us very busy and who purr at 110% volume.  Max and Minerva aren’t too thrilled that the new babies are taking up all of our attention, but I think once everyone gets accustomed to having two rowdy kittens around, then we’re all going to be one big happy family.  I just wish our new babies would have had the chance to meet Orla. I think they would have really enjoyed playing with her.

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