On Dec. 19, 2019, I lost my best kitty friend due to severe health issues. Spike was a sleek, black, personable, entertaining, sweet 11-year-old who came from the Partners for Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) in Hancock County, Indiana. His trip to the Rainbow Bridge happened fast, and since my kitties usually live to be 18-20 years old, it was totally unexpected. Noah’s Emergency Animal Hospital helped him cross peacefully.
That night, the house was too quiet. I needed a kitty presence to fill the empty space. Is it too soon? Should I allow myself to grieve more? Is there a time clock I need to pay attention to? I reached for Spikey and he wasn’t there.
For nearly six years, I have been a Feline Friend volunteer at The Humane Society of Indianapolis (IndyHumane). The temptation to adopt a homeless kitty every Tuesday was always there, but – don’t ask me how – I resisted. For the last few months, there was a sweet black-and-white cat with green eyes in the Bernard Room at IndyHumane. His name was Purrt Reynolds, and as soon as you sat down, he would jump in your lap and purr. He’d stay there as long as you’d let him. Staff and volunteers loved him.
Patrons passed him by because he was 10 years old and had FIV. Purrt became a favorite, but it didn’t look like a new home was in his future.
On the night of Dec. 19, I thought a lot about Purrt Reynolds. I had considered adopting him before, but wasn’t sure how Spike would react to a new kitty in the house, so I put that thought out of my mind. But now there was no Spike, just his towel and catnip toys on the bed.
In the middle of the night, I decided that I needed to adopt an old cat with health issues. Hey, I’m old and have health issues: In kitty years, he’s only three years younger than I am. (Do the math.) So on Dec. 20, I told Pet Pals TV host and friend, Patty Spitler, what I was going to do. She wanted to come along for the ride and take pictures of my journey to a new cat.
When I entered the adoption room at IndyHumane, Purrt Reynolds jumped into my lap and settled in for petting. He picked me at the same time I was picking him. I knew this handsome fur baby was mine.
Out of the ten cats I’ve had in my life, I had only adopted one. The rest were given to me or showed up on my doorstep. This was going to be a whole new experience!
When I signed the adoption papers, people on the staff cheered. “Purrt Reynolds is going home!” The adoption counselors all said goodbye to him as we headed out the door. (Thank you, Diana, at IndyHumane, for making the process easy.) One day after losing my Heart Cat, I had a new sweet soul to fill my life.
As soon as we got home, Purrt Reynolds wandered into each room, gave everything the sniff test, then settled into a cat bed to take a nap. He was home. Finally.
Since Friday, he has been the purrfect, loving companion. Most of the time, he likes being in whatever room I am in. His purr could break the sound barrier. He doesn’t have a meow: He emits this tiny, guttural “ow” sound. He was very sociable when I had friends over to watch the Colts game and wasn’t bothered by the small dog who visited. He is the most laid-back cat I have ever shared space with.
Since “Purrt Reynolds” is a mouthfull, and “Purrt” kind of sounds like you’re experiencing acid reflux, I have been calling him, simply, Burt. Not a huge change but less cartoonish. And I don’t think he cares. His only comment is “owww.”
You don’t replace one pet with another. You just make room in your heart for a new one.
So here we are, an old kitty and an old lady, connecting as only cat lovers and cats can do. I will miss Spike and mourn for him for the rest of my life. I will love Bert and give him Lysine treats for the rest of his life.
Welcome home, Burt. Merry Christmas to us.