By Adele and Karen
Cole died one day before Karen left us for 3 weeks to travel, leaving her sister to housesit with me and Max. We didn’t need “babysitting,” but Karen had hoped Cole would be alive and he needed intensive care, and it was too late for Plan B.
So we mourned Cole and the disruption of our normal routine without Karen. I’ve lost brothers before, so I was pretty, “C’est la vie, now I get the bed to myself,” while Max brooded like a Goth kid in his man cave.
Upon returning, it took Karen exactly a week to reject our new upstairs-downstairs cat arrangement. Max needed a friend — and it was never going to be me.
Now I’ll let Karen pick up the story…
Cole was the buffer between Adele and Max, but it took years. I needed a different approach, and pleasing Adele was Job One.
After Fred died, I adopted 3-year-old Cole. It took Adele 5 years to tolerate him.
After Yul died, I adopt 4-month-old Max. Four years later, Adele and he live on separate floors.
So I had to go even younger — staying male — because Adele’s only had brothers, even in her birth litter.
Last week, I found a 3-month-old orange/white kitten named Champagne on the Richmond Animal League website, off-site being fostered.
Here’s some background on no-kill RAL. In 1996, Yul was my first adoption, then Adele in 2000, Cole in 2009, and Max in 2011.
The process has become increasingly convoluted. The application is 4 pages, requires 2 personal references minimum, and vet verification that current pets get care.
RAL is open only 4 hours a day (closed Mondays) and most animals are being fostered off-site, so meeting them can be tricky.
Except for the limited accessibility, this is all OK if it keeps irresponsible dipshits from taking animals. But all these hoops are pretty annoying when you’re a regular.
Now, back to the story…
Champagne was great, but I spotted 4 black kittens even smaller — 3 females and a male named Ham. I’m a sucker for black cats, so I asked for Ham.
RAL identifies cats by their microchips. The kitten they handed me had a white triangle on its chest and had been reaching for everyone passing the cage with a purposeful gleam in its eyes. It was as if my Yul had sent me his replacement. Ham was the cat for me.
They said, “OK, make an appointment to come back and go through your application.”
WTF!!?? I’d given them my app the previous day, along with vet documents on Adele’s and Max’s shots, which they’d refused because they prefer to phone (yeah, weekends when vets are closed).
I put the kitten back and could see its hurt and confusion, as if it were asking, “Why? How did I screw this up?”
Fortunately, they had an opening an hour later, so I had to go kill time and think of a name. To honor Yul, I picked Roc, after human Yul Brynner’s son Rock. I dropped the K for style and social media brevity, and because my cats aren’t named after inanimate objects.
Then back to RAL with my cat carrier. (Did I mention I’d redone Max’s man cave into a nursery?)
After more paperwork, I got a kitten. Eager to escape the bureaucrats and all the pleading little faces I couldn’t take home, I put the kitten in the carrier and left.
At home, the first thing the kitten did was throw itself against my leg, kneading and purring. After it took a long drink, had a nosh, and began exploring, I picked it up for a cuddle. To my horror, he had NO WHITE TRIANGLE. They’d given me the WRONG KITTEN!
Thinking it was female, I put it back in the carrier and dashed back to RAL. It kneaded a blankie while staring fixedly at me the whole ride.
But RAL had misread the chip the FIRST time and had me meet the wrong kitten. Ham the male was all-black. So I did have the right cat, but essentially adopted him sight-unseen.
I was so crushed not to get a cat with Yul’s looks, yet so relieved not to reject the sweet all-black kitten, yet worried that I knew squat about him, on top of still choking up over Cole, I almost had a melt-down. The people who witnessed this climactic scene must have thought I was bonkers.
The one thing I do know about Ham is that he comes from a litter with a strong streak of Yul-ness, so he’s taking the name Roc.
Max will fill you in on how Roc’s adjusting to his new life and siblings and how his personality is unfolding.