The seventeen word text that changed my life

“Tell Marzio I know he isn’t ready to adopt but there are some real cuties here today.”

That seventeen word text changed my life for the better. It was true of course, I was not ready. I had plans, a time-frame, more importantly preparations to make. It was in the middle of a workday; I had taken the train into NYC from Jersey. Of course that was all folderol; I was ready—more than ready actually. Sometimes the best things in life happen spontaneously and without warning. I texted my friend back and filled out the form. This is the tale of my cat adoption from the ASPCA.

There has always been a cat in my life in some fashion or another. About a year before the divorce I had adopted a cat, Peaches, from a friend who couldn’t keep him any longer. Unfortunately for me, that particularly ungrateful little beast vigorously preferred my soon to be ex-wife. I don’t hold any ill-will towards Peaches, after all he is a cat and that is how cats are. So when my wife and I parted ways, she retained primary custody both my kid and my cat.

For the first time in my life I am truly on my own, alone in a terrific three bedroom apartment. During the last seven months I had been adjusting to the solitary life, including figuring who I am and what I want out of my life. I desired a cat from the very beginning, but I needed to get myself stable and set first. Plus as I mentioned in the opening, I had plans! We know what Shakespeare wrote about the plans of mice and men!

My co-author’s husband, Rob, volunteers for the ASPCA and over the years he has shared tales of the good work they do there. When I mentioned that I wanted a cat ‘eventually’ he told me to let him know when I was ready. He was fully aware of what had happened with my last adoption. Rob reassured me that the ASPCA adoption process matches up people and cats very effectively – like a matchmaking service for people and felines. Rob is passionate about his work with the ASPCA; he cares tremendously for those animals. Any skepticism I had was quelled because I knew that Rob was committed to the best interest of the cats and their adopters. So I promised Rob that I would call him the minute I knew I was ready to bring a cat back into my life.

Rob was pretty good about waiting. He would ask me once in awhile if I was ready or not, but he never pressured or pursued me. Until that text!

I knew the moment I read his text that I would be visiting the ASPCA after work. I knew full well that if Rob was texting that ‘sweeties’ were available then he knew the cat I wanted was waiting for me. I responded that I would meet him after work.

Cat Adopter Survey

PixieOn the ASPCA website there is a survey you need to fill out when contemplating adoption. The Cat Adopter Survey asked 16 questions about what I wanted in a cat. Did I want a talkative cat or a quiet one, one that required a lot of attention or a loner, a boisterous cat or a lap cat? Did I want a cat that chased my ankles or a serious cat? Being honest with those questions helped determine which cats I would be shown. Depending on my answers I would be given a color code: orange, green or purple. Each color represents a personality archetype they call Feline-alitys and each has three cat personality sub-types. For example it was pretty obvious that I am a ‘purple’ kind of guy, which means that I would be best matched to a Lovebug, a Secret Admirer or a Private Investigator.

This is a brilliant process. The good folks at the ASPCA spend time with these animals, identifying their personalities and needs. It makes sense to go through this process otherwise it would be a gamble (ex. Peaches).

That afternoon I got little work done. My time was spent looking at the pictures of all the adoptable cats thinking about which one (if any) would work out for me. Experience has taught me that when it comes to cats, they choose you as much (if not more than) you choose them. I was pretty confident the personalities I looked at would be right. However I must confess a desire for a particular color.

I have had an orange and a gray tabby (Puff the Magic Dragon and Tuffy), a tuxedo (Oreo) and a piebald orange and white (Peaches). At one point in my life when I was homeless I was adopted by a friend’s Russian Blue (Nikki). What I had always wanted but never had the opportunity to own was a black cat. Rob knew this and assured me that black cats are always available. It seems stupid superstitions are as strong as ever. Yeah, I was hoping to meet a ‘purple’ black cat.

I texted Rob that I was purple (big surprise) and he knew the ones I needed to see right away. He told me to check out the adoptable cat photos online for cats named Singapore and R2D2. Singapore’s photo showed a small black female with the biggest green eyes I have ever seen. R2D2 was a big tom with a perfect temperament. As soon as I could escape, I was on my way to the ASPCA.

A Trip to the ASPCA

When I got there, Rob took me through the process. The people there must have huge hearts because they are all so nice. Plus everyone is walking around with huge smiles on their faces; it is cool to see people loving what they do!

ASPCA Adoptions

Rob shows me Singapore for the first time.

Wasting no time, Rob took me to see Singapore. There she was in a kitty apartment on a wall with several other cats. As soon as Rob opened the cage she was purring and curious. A good sign! Singapore was so small, the size of a nine month old cat yet she was two years old and fully grown. Despite being so small, she was fearless. When Rob handed her to me, she crawled up onto my shoulders. All the while purring and nuzzling. I wasn’t ‘sold’ but things were certainly looking really good.

So I sat on the floor and she curled in my lap, purring like an idling motorcycle. My heart was melting. As Rob and I were talking, Singapore reached up with her paw toward my cheek. Rob was a little nervous, but Singapore stroked my cheek with the softest caress. She was petting me back!!!

Rob laughed and asked if I wanted to see the others. I laughed and said, “Yes, because Narcisse will never stop teasing me over falling head over heels in love with the first girl I meet!”

But as I stood watching Rob put Singapore back in her cage I said, “You know what? I don’t want to see any other cat. This is the one for me. She is perfect.”

Rob beamed, “I knew it when I saw her. I am glad you came today.”

“Me too, Rob, me too.”

Before we left, Rob took me on a tour of the ASPCA. So many cats and dogs, so many stories. Some of these animals have had such hard lives and all they want is someone to love and be loved by. I wish I could have adopted them all. I suppose that is a common reaction.

Despite the sorrowful tales, there is much joy and a tremendous sense of hope. People are willing to open their hearts and homes to these lost souls. Cats with one eye and dogs with a missing leg are just as likely to be adopted as animals with all their parts. As cruel as humans can be, there are plenty at the opposite end of the scale.

As we walked, Rob told me how the ASPCA tries to create the best situation for the animals they rescue. Some cats and dogs must be adopted together, because when separated they get depressed. Some animals may never get adopted; they have been too damaged by cruelty. The good news is that the ASPCA is a ‘no-kill’ shelter, if they don’t find a home for an animal, then they will live there.

Speaking of no-kill shelters, Rob told me that Singapore had been picked up by the ASPCA from another shelter in Brooklyn, one that killed any animals they couldn’t place with a certain time frame. My blood froze, if not for the ASPCA little Singapore could have been put down!

Naming My Cat

pixie and meSo now it is a few months later. Singapore has a new home, a new friend for life and a new name. At first I went with “Suka” – the Malaysian word for Love. When I told my friends they laughed and informed me that ‘Suka’ is also the Russian, Polish, Czech word for “Whore”! Whoops!

TS Eliot said, “The naming of cats is a difficult matter”. He is correct, the name must be right. Sometimes naming a cat is quick and obvious, other times the name will be revealed with familiarity. In this case, her name soon arrived with unexpected ease. My little black cat is a playful, loving little ball of mischief. She loves to chase mice, lasers and get into everything while at the same time she is the cuddliest little purr-ball I have ever met. There is only one name that fits her “purrfectly” – Pixie.

I love my Pixie cat. We get along terrifically. She loves my son and he loves her. So does Narcisse, who upon meeting Pixie immediately understood how I fell in love at first sight. It has been a perfect match from the start, we get along famously. She has her schedule and I have mine, although we are both always ready for spontaneous affection. She is truly a writer’s cat too. When I am in my writing room, she will be in there with me, staring out the window, sleeping in her bed or curled up on my shoulders purring while I type. She seems to know when I need to concentrate and when I need distraction – her timing is flawless.

It is somewhat mind-boggling how an 8-pound ball of black fluff can have such a drastic, positive impact on my life. I honestly can’t tell you who rescued whom, but together we share a bond that would never have been possible without Rob and the good people of the ASPCA. If you are looking for your feline companion, consider a cat adoption at the ASPCA.