We had a cat a few years ago. We called him Thomas. His full name was Thomas J. J. Duff. The "J.J." stood for "Jumpin' Jehosaphat." Mary named him. Despite a few hard nibbles on an occasional passing ankle, and bringing live (and sometimes not live) bunnies into the house, Thomas was a good cat.
One day Thomas did not come home from his daily prowl around the neighborhood. Two days went past and he still was not to be found. I cruised the streets calling out his name, called the pound and local animal shelters, let the neighbors know he was missing and left food out for him. After three days it was becoming more and more likely that he was not coming home.
I wasn't sure how to break the news to the girls. I thought it might be good to get them used to the idea that he might not return, but not say it was definite. I wanted to ease them into the realization that he was gone. So on the fourth day I said to Hannah "Have you seen Thomas around?"
I thought this was a good way to start the conversation. I did not want her to panic if I said he was lost. She responded with "No. Do you think he ran into the street, got hit by a car and died?"
I was floored.
"Um, yeah, well, that may have happened. All we know is that he hasn't come home for four days and I wanted you to know that I've looked real hard for him. I don't think he'll be coming back."
"Okay. Can we get another cat then?"
Clearly she was okay with him being gone... As long as we got a replacement.
We did not pursue getting a new cat for several months. Then a woman who worked at Mary's office sent an email note out that she had found a stray that was litter box trained. She said she did not want to keep it because they already had two cats. She dropped of "Casey" at our house on a Saturday afternoon. We had asked her to bring the cat by so that we could see how he got along with the girls. It was our intention to check this guy out thoroughly before we decided to keep him or not. The woman who brought him left our house before we really made a decision. She just kinda said "Well, he's all yours. Good luck." And then took off.
We kept Casey in the basement for a while to make sure he got acclimated to his new surroundings and we were sure he learned where the litter box was located. Slowly he began to explore the rest of the house. But Casey had a problem. He had anger management issues. His idea of exploring was to go straight to the girls bedroom and pee all over the walls. He would even leave nice brown packages for us to find.
After a month of trying everything we could... save getting a kitty psychologist involved, we took Casey to a shelter. He would not get along with the girls. Looking back on it, the woman who brought him by the house must have experienced the same thing. Though he was a gorgeous cat, he crapped all over the place. I was more upset with that woman than the cat. She had to have known.
And yet, the girls still wanted to have a cat as pet.
It took several months before Mary and I were ready to try again. This time we went to a shelter to seek out a cat of our own. In Kansas City there is a great animal shelter called Wayside Waifs. They do a tremendous job taking care of stays and neglected animals. Thomas was from a shelter and we had always said we would get our next pet from a shelter.
We took the girls to Wayside Waifs so that they could help pick out our new cat. I was thinking the girls would pick out a kitten, but when Mary pointed out these two handsome adult cats, the girls fell in love. They were Maine Coon cats. They were five years old and they were brothers. They had been in the shelter for a month and a half and no one had yet adopted them.
Mary had said she'd consider getting two cats so that they could keep each other company during the day. As our luck would have it, the day we went to the shelter was a buy one get one free day. Plus, since these guys had been there for several weeks, they were available at a reduced rate. Mary is always looking for a bargain, so we got em!
The shelter had given them the names Lance & Roy. I wanted to name them Hank & Frank. Hannah and Grace won out and they now go by the names Fluffy & Furball.
And they are the nicest cats in the world.