Once a pet has passed away, how do you know it’s time to go out and adopt a new one? On the one hand, you want to fill the void that has been left behind by the loss of your sweet pet, but, on the other hand, you don’t want to adopt one too soon and be forever comparing the new one to the previous one. Every pet has its very own, unique personality, and you may do the new one a disservice if you expect it to be just like the last one.
Knowing When the Time Isn’t Right
For us, the choice hasn’t been that hard. When Chloe passed away, we still had two very healthy pets who are still with us today: Hector (aka MrBradPittofCats) and Cyrus, our super energetic and super cute small breed mixed dog. Because we have these two lovable goofballs in our lives, we haven’t really felt the need to get another cat. However, I will say that I’m a woman who spends my days surrounded by boys (including my husband : ) and I do miss Chloe’s serene female energy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way implying that females are not as strong as males. Chloe was The Queen when she was alive, and she ruled with an iron paw. If she was angry, she let you know it (and she was always angry at those boys). But nothing could come close to the calming energy of a happy Chloe snuggling up next to me and purring. I swear she had magical healing properties in that purr. So, there are days when I mention to my husband that maybe it’s time for a sweet female kitten to join our little family.
Sometimes Life Gets in the Way
But it’s been a hectic year for us. Cyrus had to have emergency surgery for a herniated disc and a liver biopsy at the same time that led to six weeks of needing to be nursed back to health. I’m happy to say that he’s back to his energetic self, but then I had surgery and needed my own six weeks of being nursed back to health. So another cat was out of the question, or so we thought.
Sometimes Life Surprises You
A few months ago, a small orange tabby cat started coming into our yard. My husband saw her first, but the cat immediately turned and ran away. A couple of days later, I saw a small, orange cat head peak under our fence. Her eyes got huge, and she immediately turned and ran again. She looked like a skinny, straggly stray, and I felt bad for her, so I started leaving her food. And every day she comes, multiple times a day, for the food and water that we leave her. She never lets us get near her and runs if we dare try to approach her, but she appears like clockwork to eat the food. Well, except for the occasional times a possum has appeared in her place. She even once left us a gift of a regurgitated mouse in the way that cats do as a thank you.
Notice I’ve been calling this cat a she? How do I know she’s a she if I haven't been able to get close to her? At the time, I didn’t know. I think deep down I desperately wanted her to be a she. To be that new female kitty that could join our family and make us complete again. I knew it was time to trap this cat, get her some vet care, and get her spayed, if need be. And then I knew I’d probably have to release her back into our yard.
It’s called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), and it’s something that communities do for feral cats to keep the cats healthy and prevent them from creating even more feral cats. If you trap a feral cat and take it to a shelter, the chances are the cat will get euthanized because they’re not tame and usually are not adoptable unless they are very young. With TNR, a cat can get care and live out its life in its own environment without contributing more to the homeless cat problem. So, I found a great organization near Los Angeles called FixNation that lends out humane traps, teaches you how to use them, and offers free vet care and spay/neuter if the cat is feral. I borrowed a trap, put it outside for a few days to let Jordi (what we named her) get used to the trap, and then I set it. I wasn’t sure she’d fall for it or how she’d react, but she was much easier to catch than I expected. She was, of course, freaked out and soooo angry with me, but I put her (still in the trap) in the quiet of our bathroom and let her rest before taking her in for her surgery the next day.
Not the Pet I Expected
When I picked her up after surgery, the first thing I found out was that she was actually a he. Just what I need: another boy! And he was definitely not a kitty but a full grown 4-6 year old. But honestly, it didn’t matter; I still had grown to care for this little cat, no matter who he was. As I sat next to the trap trying to comfort him after his surgery, I thought about trying to train him to be an indoor cat and keeping him. Such a big part of me did not want to release him back into our neighborhood where it’s not uncommon to hear coyotes howling at night. But I had to remind myself: This cat is not Chloe. He’s not a cat that will laze about in the sun, overeat, and then nap in my lap purring. He’s a survival animal: One that understands life outdoors. He’s certainly not the pet I expected, but I realized, he could still be a part of our family.
Accepting the Unexpected
The next morning, my husband and I both went outside and lifted the door of the trap to release him. At first, Jordi hesitated, and I immediately thought, “Yay! He wants to stay!” And then, he bolted. For 24 hours, he didn’t return, and I worried about him. Would he ever come back after that? That darn possum sure did and ate all of Jordi’s food. But two days later, I peered through our bedroom window at his usual dinnertime and there he was! Ready to eat again and looking very healthy.
A New Member of Our Family
I can’t tell you when it’s time to adopt a new pet. Sometimes you’ll know when you’re ready, and you’ll go out and start a new adventure with a new loved one. But sometimes, the pet will come to you in ways you never expected. Jordi will never be the cat I expected, but I’m so happy he’s here and lets me take care of him. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll even let me pet him one day and he’ll purr for me, just like Chloe.