I have never been a cat person. Let me rephrase that in case there is any morsel of confusion….I used to detest cats. I remember when the Flat Cat came out I thought it belonged atop the Best New Items Of The Year list. Just hilarious. Cats don’t come when they’re called. They scratch. They claw. They pout. They’re not a pet, they’re a decoration. When I was a kid my father used to joke that children were to be seen, not heard. Cats, on the other hand, were smelled but seldom seen.

I used to shake my head at people whose desk I’d pass at my office chortling hysterically at the latest cat video on YouTube. “Look, Fluffy is swinging from the tree, isn’t that adorable?” Uh no. It wasn’t. Show me Fluffy managing a convertible securities portfolio or preparing a nice Smashed White Bean and Avocado Club and then I’ll be impressed.

But something odd has happened. Some background, I immediately developed a fondness for the three scruffy rescue dogs that Lori has rescued along the way. Rudy is, how should I put this, not “right”. Rudy is as sweet an animal as one would ever find but he’s a bit off kilter, whether it’s his fondness for consuming materials that frankly should not be ingested by anything or anybody, his jealous streak that reaches heretofore unexplored levels or his famous “ghost walk” that’s half Mick Jagger half Vincent Price. It has to be seen to be believed. There’s Rosie, who Lori rescued after she was wandering around the Rose Avenue section of Venice who has never met a tongue she didn’t like (don’t ask). Finally there’s Sam who is by far the most normal one of the bunch but it’s painfully obviously that Sam has endured a lot of abuse in her little life. I was all in with the dogs but I had my doubts that I could develop a fondness for the cats. Trying to remember their names didn’t help because other than a brief acknowledgment that they did indeed hear me, they’d never come when called anyway.

So this past Father’s Day, Lori, knowing that all of these animals were from before she knew me, decided that I needed a best friend of my own to join the Petapalooza. So off we went to the Valley Animal Shelter where I was determined to find a male kitten. I kept reiterating….a male kitten. As we approached the shelter some unforeseen wave came over me and I blurted out “a male kitten…or if we see one that really needs our help” Oh no, what have I done? What possessed me to say that? Did I momentarily lose my mind? I tried to disavow acknowledgement of the statement as we entered the cat enclosure at the shelter. Ahhh there they were…..three absolutely adorable kittens, male to boot, all looking like a bundle of fun and energy. Future YouTube stars all of them!

Yet there, at the bottom rung of cages and all the way to the right where no one ever looks was this thing. It was a cat all right. A 9 year old orange cat. “How many eyes did it have, Jim?” you ask. Let me answer….it has one. Pumpkin is her name. We took her out of the cage and I immediately began regretting that whole “unless there’s a cat that needs us” thing. I knew we were sunk. Pumpkin had found a home, much to the delight of the staff at the Shelter who greeted us like we had just liberated France. I started to worry why everyone was so appreciative of us giving Pumpkin a home. We wondered if this seemingly gentle, serene cat would later turn into a feline Cujo and cut us up into little pieces. Were we to become an episode of Investigative Discovery?

The first few days were rocky. Pumpkin was sick and not really eating. Each time we came home and found her still kicking we were thankful. Two (unintentional) dips in our pool didn’t help assure us that Pumpkin was long for this world.

But more than two months later my wife and I have what can only be described as the perfect cat. Well, at least our version of the perfect cat. She is our companion, our buddy and is obviously so happy to have a home and people who love her. Not that she doesn’t wear the pants in the house, chasing the much larger male cat out of the house and yard, laying down the law with the dogs who’s boss and who is allowed on the sofa, and wiggling out of the half dozen or so cat collars that have been purchased in her name. I never thought I’d say this about a cat but I can’t imagine life without our little bundle of bad breath. She’s a handful. But she’s our handful.

And to everyone who gives their time, their effort and their homes to animals that are in dire need of our help, you are shining lights in what can often be a rather dark world.

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