Monday, February 22, 2010

Introducing Sully

This is a modified excerpt of my other blog, which I think about to remind myself how wonderful this little guy is... when he's not being a bastard.

There’s something very special that happened the Wednesday before our wedding, as my family was leaving our Chicago apartment. A small stray tabby cat ran up to me as I was trying on a pair of white wedding heels next to the car. He was extremely affectionate, pushing his face against my leg (a sign of love, that the cat is taking ownership and forming a bond), and rolling around my feet almost like a little puppy. Mom gave me some food to hand to him while coaxing him out of the street, but he kept coming back to me and rubbing his forehead against my legs. As my family drove away, I had every intention of going back upstairs and getting back to packing for the wedding – but I simply couldn’t leave. The little guy kept circling my legs and looking up to me.

A woman walked by and I asked if she’d seen him before, and she said no, picked him up for a moment and chatted with me, but set him down then and said although she’d love to take him, she already had two cats and she couldn’t have a third. This cat took another few steps toward her, but she jogged away so that he wouldn’t follow her, and when he turned and saw that I was still standing there, he came back to me and wouldn’t let me go. I tried getting inside our front gate, but he snuck right through and went up the steps. I opened the front door and he ran all the way upstairs to our apartment, and I just tossed my head around debating about whether to shove him back outside or hang onto him until my then-fiance came home so that we could take him into a shelter somewhere. However, after spending a few more minutes with him, it was impossible to think of turning him over to a shelter where he might be euthanized, and he was in such good health I was certain he belonged to someone. I decided to take him to our bathroom for the moment, giving him an empty moving box and a sheet for comfort. Meanwhile I thawed four small frozen shrimp I had in my freezer and he gobbled that up extremely fast. I also got him some water and waited for my fiance to come home. When he did, I showed him the cat, and like me, he instantly fell in love.

We had been talking for almost a year about getting a cat. We weren’t sure if we could afford one, or manage one with our schedules and moving around so much, but after spending only a short time with this little one, it was just impossible to imagine giving him up. We had always wanted to get a really scrawny looking cat and name it Hagrid like from Harry Potter, just for laughs, but we couldn’t possibly give that name to this cat, even temporarily, because if he belonged to someone else, it would be even harder to give him up. He was acting so goofy throughout the afternoon, I had been saying how silly he was, and that sort of evolved into the name “Sully,” like the character on Monsters Inc. We ran to the store for some cat food and a litter box, and got one of those nice perches with the cat cave and scratching post all built in one. We knew we were dropping quite a bit of money on him very suddenly, but we acknowledged that even if we found out that he had an owner, we would donate or keep the items for a new cat we would certainly get later, or otherwise donate the items to people who maybe couldn’t afford them. But at least for the night, he was ours.

Thursday came, and although we were supposed to have been focusing on our final days of wedding preparation, all we could think about was little Sully. My fiance went to work and I scoured the internet for local shelters and vets. I found a guy named Mike from the Red Door Animal Shelter nearby who was willing to come to the apartment and scan Sully for an identification microchip. When he arrived, we learned that Sully did not have a chip, and while that didn’t guarantee he was homeless, Mike assured me it would be odd behavior for an owner to let this cat wander outdoors without having been neutered first. It was remarkable though that Sully appeared to be in such good health, though, so I posted a listing on Craig’s List as well as fliers around my building, letting people know I had found a cat.

I continued to call around to try to find a place that would take him without risk of euthanizing him, at least for the weekend while we figured things out. Most places found it extremely admirable that despite our crazy pre-wedding schedule, we were taking such time and caring for this cat. After much searching, I found a vet downtown who would take Sully over the weekend fairly inexpensively, but also go ahead and neuter him and partially declaw him (front two paws only, to save my skin from more severe allergy problems as well as for the furniture we’re starting to accumulate, while keeping his back claws for his comfort and protection in case he would ever escape outside). So while my fiance and I could have left for Wisconsin immediately after work, we instead fought the downtown traffic for an hour and managed to squeeze Sully in just before closing time. The vet, Dr. Andres, and his assistant Jim, were extremely nice and patient with us, and took their time explaining the procedures as well as the shots and other tests Sully would get for his overall health. It was expensive, but well worth it, and we left our new kitty knowing he’d be in good hands. Sully stared into my eyes just before we left and I promised him everything would be okay, and that we’d be a little happy family when we got back to pick him up.

It was hard leaving him there, but we knew it was the right thing to do while we focused on our wedding the next couple of days and decided for sure whether or not we could handle having a cat this soon.

Needless to say, we got married, came home, and no one had claimed him, so he was now officially ours. Yay.

My husband made a blog post about Sully shortly after our wedding as well:
During the actual ceremony, the priest mentioned that we need to share the love that comes from our union with those who do not have it. When we looked at each other, we both thought of one special little guy. On Wednesday, my fiancee had the fortune to be approached by an adorable 8 month old kitty. This cat clung to her and she could not resist taking him inside. I got home and met this little guy and was blown away at just how playful and loveable he was.

On Thursday, instead of thinking of the massive-life altering event that was about to occur, we became wholly consumed with figuring out how to take care of this little guy. We raced down to a vet and turned him in to get nudered and declawed as well as be taken care of over the weekend. It was storming and we had to put him in a cardboard box. We had to get there fast because they were about to close (thankfully they stayed open later for us). I illegally parked and my fiancee jumped out of the car with the box. She heroically ran down the sidewalk with this little kitty trying to jump out of the box. I parked several (and I mean several) blocks away and ran back in the rain. We were able to get him in and get the bills covered. Now today (or at least yesterday to be technical) we went and picked him up. He is the most adorable cat I have ever met and I can't wait to get to know him more.

The story gets emotional for me because here we are a newlywed couple with a new Chicago apartment and a brand new kitty that we rescued, and something crazy happens. I land my absolute dream job on the east coast, my husband has to finish out his job in Chicago, and we decide it really is best for me to take the job and move out there by myself. I'm very independent, and given an opportunity like this, I become fearless.

So I flew out there with one suitcase and no home, stayed with my sister in Brooklyn for a week, rode into work daily with my company's executive producer who lived nearby, and scoured the nearby areas for affordable studio apartments. For the first 10 months of our marriage we lived apart, which was very very hard. Sully stayed with my husband, and in my humble opinion, learned a lot of bad behaviors. While I've always been a cat person, my husband had always been a dog person, so he was fairly lenient with the cat when the little guy would jump on things or in places he shouldn't be going. He also encouraged rough-housing, which is a huge no-no.

We're living together now that my husband was able to secure a job on the east coast, but we are facing a multitude of problems with our beloved cat. He still is extremely affectionate and fairly obedient most of the time (particularly to me), but every once in a while he gets into moods or a string of bad behavior. This blog was inspired by that bad behavior, hopefully as an outlet for the stress that he causes from time to time. I hope you enjoy it and post stories of your own bastard cat.

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