I like to explain how I chose my cats the same way you might explain how you met your significant other. There are two cats with whom the mutual choosing has occurred, so here’s how I met Tikvah (formerly Lizzie) pictured first, and Flicka pictured below.
Sometimes you meet someone and you know, you just both know there’s something, so you give it a shot and you leap in – like asking that person you hit it off with out on a date, and then it becomes more than this absolute dream first date and you never look back. That was how I met Tikvah, falling in love when we met at the shelter after a prolonged multi-week search for the perfect cat.
I first met Tikvah at NEAS and took her home the next morning. We jumped in headfirst because we could tell from the first “date” together at the shelter that it was worth it, and our relationship blossomed after. And we are one another’s family now, very happily. She’s intelligent in the most adorable bouncy but clumsy way (as a fellow klutz, I appreciate the company) and full of love and energy and trust. More trust than a cat who clearly once had a home but was found as a stray has any reason to show. I named her Tikvah, which means “hope,” and that’s exactly what she’s given me (and I can only hope I her as well).
Sometimes, though, you meet someone slowly. You know there’s something there, but it builds slowly, over time, and one day you discover that you love them. That’s how I met Flicka. We met as I volunteered at NEAS and I was taken with him. I liked spending time with him, chatting to the initially shy fellow and receiving a cheek to rub or grabbing a wand toy to dangle in front of a playful paw as time went on. I would try to make the potential adopters understand how amazing he was, and a few times I thought that I had – but every time, they left and he stayed. And every time, I would find my frustration growing as people passed him by—a handsome young man with so much to offer, so polite and full of personality and thoughts you just knew were behind those eyes, and nobody was giving him a home.
The news that he had a heart murmur (and a severe one at that) only made it harder to find someone interested. At some point, I started seeking a companion for my own cat, having discovered by fostering that Tikvah was cat-friendly and knowing she wanted a playmate as well as company. For some reason, I always assumed that Flicka needed to be an only cat (as he had a room to himself for some time, and I never thought to ask) and kept trying to find him a home while trying to find the perfect match for Tikvah and myself.
I missed my shift one week, and the next time I walked in, I learned – to my shock and sudden great excitement – that Flicka is amazing with other cats. I all but ran to the community room he was in, and saw my wonderful man with three kittens of various ages, wrestling patiently with one. I saw him walk over and gently lick the ears of a sleeping young kitten before tearing myself away from the glass. That’s when I decided to grab his card and talk to an adoption counselor about adopting him.
Today, I am the lucky adopter of a cat proven during his time at the shelter to be remarkable with all kinds of cats, and amazing with playful youngsters like mine. It still feels like a dream today, only two days after I realized that, maybe, I could take Flicka home. As the counselors at NEAS made very clear to me before letting me go forward, he has a severe heart murmur, and I may not get to have much time with him (nobody knows). Already, though, he has been such a gift to have in my life. He knows he is king of the house (Tikvah being queen) and has become, since his first hours, more easy and affectionate with me, more frequently confident and playful, and he’s been a good sport about his vet appointment and his noisy new ‘little sister’ (Tikvah!) on the other side of the door. He’s got a great new vet team on his side taking over his care closer to his new home, and gets to see a cardiologist, a specialist, in only a few days.
These two cats are amazing. Tikvah is a bouncy, playful, friendly, loving, cuddly lap cat, who has spent a quarter of her still short life thus far in shelters (mainly in Georgia, in the nearly 3 months before she got to NEAS) and still came to me a bundle of overflowing affection and joy. Flicka is a fascinating, curious, intuitive, special, and incredibly smart fellow who was a great “dad” figure at NEAS to his roommates, and in under a day he has already started trotting out of his shell and settling in to his forever home.
Within the first 24 hours of living with me, Flicka had to go to the vet and have his pills basically forced in because he wouldn’t eat them in food (he licked around them, my clever boy) and ignored the pill pockets — basically, the poor guy has had what everyone can agree was a rough day. I walked in to his room to refresh the water and make sure he had a nice clean litter box and when I sat down to chat with him, just like I’d did when he was at the shelter, he got up from his cozy spot of a hidey-hole type bed on a cuddly piled huge blanket in the closet of his room, and trotted up to me and climbed into my lap.
I’m still crying remembering it a few hours later and snuggling my wonderful purring Tikvah; I can’t even communicate overwhelmingly lucky I am to have them both in my life.
Tikvah kept me going and stable and settled in a huge transition, moving to Somerville, and has continued to always be there for me and always have love and trust and hope and affection to spare. Flicka, both in his first day and a half home and as we befriended one another at NEAS, has already given so much to my life that I can’t imagine not having had this time just because there might not be as much of it left as if he were healthy. He lives his life better than most creatures I know, and he brings others along for the ride.