About six weeks ago my husband and I got a rescue kitty. The decision to get a cat did not come lightly. I had been debating it with myself—he was on board from the beginning—since we moved to Florida in March 2020.
I grew up with cats, dogs, and various farm animals, but I had never had a pet as an adult. Being self-employed as a freelance copy editor and publication designer made such a commitment difficult.
That’s 20+ years of only being responsible for myself. I don’t have kids and rarely have plants around. Although I did manage to keep an aloe vera plant and a schefflera alive for more than a year. That was until I had to move and couldn’t take them with me.
Craving feline companionship
During that two-decade hiatus, whenever a cat would wander by me on the street, I would respond appropriately by quietly and calmly SHRIEKING with delight.
As I kneeled down, the creature would come to me about 50% of the time. One day, I proclaimed, I would have one of my own, preferably a rescue kitty.
It took so many years because:
- I rented until about 2018 and couldn’t have pets due to lease restrictions.
- My husband and I moved around a lot since meeting in 2014.
We’re both self-employed entrepreneurs who have a reputation for moving to a new place on a dime (figuratively, that is). Finally, in 2020, we started to feel like we had found a home in the Sunshine State.
Adopting a rescue kitty no longer an occasional dream
I would find myself stating again and again “let’s get a cat.” Then the next day I would remember that I would need to:
- feed it,
- take it to the vet,
- clean its litter box,
- worry about it when I was away from home,
- arrange for someone to check on it while I was out of town,
- make sure it didn’t get eaten by a gator/coyote/panther/hawk, and
- then watch it get inevitably older and sickly with time.
Finally, after going over the pros and cons with family and friends for months, I realized that dooming myself forever catless was not what I had planned for myself.
So I told my husband in early January that we should get a rescue kitty. BUT let’s wait a month to make sure our finances were in order.
But we don’t wait!
Back story: We had just moved into yet another house in late November and I wanted to be sure we could afford any unexpected expenses. Two days later, I was browsing the local rescue’s inventory, and my husband said, “Let’s get one now. Why are we waiting? We don’t wait!”
That’s true. We don’t wait. When the two of us make a decision, we make the end result just happen. When we chose the house we live in now, we insisted on closing in record time. That turned out to be three weeks from the day we made the offer.
We officially moved in on Thanksgiving Day because that was the first night we slept over. We had closed the day before and had already rented a U-Haul that afternoon.
Choosing a rescue kitty
I discovered a gorgeous torti mix, and we went over to C.A.R.E. Animal Shelter the next morning. We waited until the next day because it was already closed. You should have guessed by now that we would have been over there the same day if we could have been.
Unfortunately, we weren’t 100% convinced about the original rescue kitty we visited, so we went back the next day. The volunteers suggested we wait even longer, but you know by now how that sounds to us!
We met with the torti again. However, she just didn’t seem to care about us all that much, being that she was partially feral. (Update: That cat has since been adopted, and I’m so very happy for her!)
On the way out, my husband spotted the kitten room. I had wanted no part in looking at kittens. “Kittens are so much work,” I said! But then he really wanted to look, so I tagged along.
And that’s when we met a rescue kitty named Gemma. The volunteer explained that it was spelled like “gem,” as in gemstone.
Finding our rescue kitty
This sweet gray tabby was hiding in a carpeted tunnel, tentatively reaching out and purring serenely. My husband thought she was awesome. And I marveled at his ability to pick out just the type of cat that would pull at my heartstrings the most.
I mentioned earlier that I had grown up with cats. But I did not mention that, with the exception of the last cat that called me his own, I had always shared my devotion with a gray tabby.
When I looked at this rescue kitty named Gemma, I saw a bit of Josie, who had seen me through my awkward adolescent years and been there through the inevitable tears. I also saw Tuffy, who was my first cat at the age of five, and I still well up when I recall his untimely death.
Gemma was it, and we became rescue kitty parents a few days later … And it only took that long because the shelter was closed for the two days after we submitted our application.
The many names for our rescue kitty
So, here we are more than a month in. We’re learning how to live and work from home with a cat. It still feels weird occasionally. For many years, we’d proudly declared how free we were to do as we pleased because we didn’t have kids, pets, or plants.
Our cosmopolitan, care-free lives are a little less so these days. And we ask each other where the cat is at least five times a day from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
And when we do that, we use one of various nicknames for our rescue kitty. Some of those names match the lessons we’ve learned along the way:
- Sweetie Pie
Sweetheart is when she lopes into my home office, stares at me with her big bright green-yellow eyes, and purrs as I scratch the top of her head.
Sweetie Pie is when our rescue kitty follows me out of the bedroom in the morning, mewing both for hellos and for breakfast. It’s also when she welcomes enthusiastic snuggles even as I wash her food and water bowls, and when she climbs onto her perch next to my desk.
Cutie is when she wraps herself around my legs while I prepare lunch with her tail contentedly pointed upward. Our rescue kitty blinks and turns her head and my heart melts even when she’s lying on top of my keyboard and pressing the random and sometimes critical buttons on my keyboard as I type.
Kitty is when I’m looking for her around the house before discovering her newest hiding place. It’s recently her own “private loft” at the top of our walk-in closet. That reminds me that I should put a soft blanket up there for her.
Creature is when my husband comes out of his office after an intense conference call and goes in search of welcome pets and snuggles. Our rescue kitty is also a creature when we play with her each evening as she jumps, runs, and twirls around the dangly bird toy we swing around each night so she doesn’t wake us up at 4:00 a.m.
Weirdo is when she grabs the drawstring on my hoodie, rips up my grocery store receipt, throws her catnip-infused toy mouse in the air, chews on one of my two computer screens, drinks from my water glass, and falls off my desk mid-stretch.
Jerk is when our rescue kitty claws at my feet through my thin cotton blanket or refuses to hang out with me when I’m looking right at her and pleading. Also, I’m a jerk when I give her catnip right before bedtime and complain all night that she tears through the house into the wee hours. I’m never doing that again!
And Gemma is when we talk about what a sweetheart, sweetie pie, cutie, kitty, creature, weirdo, jerk we’ve brought into our lives. And what a gem our lives have become!