People who’ve known us for more than a couple of years will remember that we had a cat named Lady when we lived in Boston. I adopted her when I was 15 from the Pat Brody Shelter For Cats, a no-kill shelter in Lunenburg, Massachusetts when she was 8 weeks old. Very long-time friends might also remember her brother, Sir (who passed away when they were 10) who we adopted at the same time. We put Lady to sleep in October of 2009, after trying to treat her kidney failure produced no results and it became clear that Lady was in pain, at 16 years of age. She was a wonderful companion and friend to both Ravi and I (and his first experience with a pet), and loved Elanor with a depth that surprised me (given that Elanor displaced her as our “baby”).
After putting her to sleep, we adults decided that we needed a break from pet ownership. Then, once Ravi was interviewing for overseas jobs, it seemed like stupid idea to get a cat or kitten, just to subject them to the trauma of a (potential) overseas move. But about six months ago, we began to talk about adopting another cat. We checked with our Land Lady (via the various agents) if it would be okay, and were told that it would be, but we weren’t ready to commit.
Recently we decided it was time. The enforced time at home due to the break certainly contributed, as I have nothing but time to spend helping E and the kitten get along safely.
We went to the SPCA here in Singapore, as we are big believers in adopting pets that need a home.
Like most SPCA’s I’ve been to over the years (many of my dogs growing up were shelter dogs, too)…the local SPCA can use all the help they can get. They are a small concrete facility about 15 minutes (without traffic) away from us in a more “suburban” part of Singapore. They take in Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Hamsters, you name it. When we first walked into the adoption area, I saw the various cages surrounding a courtyard, open to the sky to give the animals fresh air and to help provide ventilation. There are some fans to help, but I imagine it’s a difficult home for the animals when Singapore is at its most merciless in terms of heat and humidity. It is in no way accessible, so I spent the visit hopping around using a walker, rather than the wheelchair. However, I don’t recommend anyone else trying that, as the walker was also tough to manuver around the various grates and obstacles.
There are two cattery areas. One is for older cats, where it seems that they are given free range to lounge and play. We didn’t go in there, as we were going to first see kittens. With a young child, I figured that a kitten who is equally young will adapt far more easily to the noise and energy level of a young child (or children, eventually) in the home than an older cat would, for all that we were very lucky with Lady (who was 15 when Elanor was born).
The kittens are next door in the second cattery, which might more accurately be called the small animals area. One of the walls of cages was entirely taken up with rabbits, with signs reminding people not to adopt a rabbit just because we’re on the eve of the Year of the Rabbit (Chinese New Year starts Thursday). Two of the walls are kittens, and a large cage had a smaller hamster cage in it.
It was fairly crowded and chaotic with people, and Elanor had never seen so many cats in one place so she was very distracted. She was also very distracted by a hand dustpan and broom she found on the floor. I pointed out kittens to her one by one.
“Crystal,” Ravi said and gestured at a cage.
There was a small kitten staring at Elanor with a laser focus. I got Elanor’s attention and pointed the kitty out to her.
The tag on the cage said “Moon.” We asked if there was an area where we could spend some time with Moon to see if she and Ellie were compatible. The volunteer looked confused, and just took the kitten out of the cage and handed her to me. Ravi and I each held her, and Ellie patted her and kept giving her kisses.
We started the paperwork, only to realize that we’d forgotten a document we needed. As the shelter was close to closing, we had to go home and return for her next day.
We returned on Sunday in the pouring rain. The courtyard was drenched, and the rain was running into the little gutters that surrounded it. Much more quiet than on Saturday, we reintroduced Ellie to Moon.
And fell in love with another kitten.
We ended up taking both kittens home.
Renamed Kerowyn after a character in a Mercedes Lackey novel, and Gandalf after the character from Lord of the Rings (we are giant nerds who named our kid in part after an LOTR character…did you expect anything less?) they are already adored members of our family.
Kerowyn (Kero) is our active girl. She’s a full match for Ellie in terms of boundless energy, playfulness and boundary testing. Today Elanor told our helper to give her a time out for scratching the cushioning in Ellie’s chair and not listening when E told Kero to use the scratching post. Gee, I wonder how she learned about time outs for not listening?
Gandalf is much more quiet. He’s not so into playing…he’d rather curl up in your lap and get cuddles. It’s pretty clear he had a rough start to life…about half of his tail was amputated, although the SPCA didn’t give us information as to how that happened. Our best guess is that he was from a feral litter and came to them with a broken tail. You see a lot of that in the feral cats you occasionally spot around Singapore (amputated tails). However, he’s a very loving kitten.
Elanor has adapted enthusiastically to them. Ravi asked me yesterday if it was his imagination or if she’d gotten a lot louder since their arrival…and I confirmed that it wasn’t his imagination. She is constantly asking where they are, or pointing them out to me, or asking if she can pet them (we try to do all of it in a very supervised manner). However, she’s much more comfortable with approaching them than their approaching her. Kero tried to climb into her lap on the couch and Ellie pulled away and freaked out a bit. I had to explain that Kero loved her and was coming over to ask for petting. She calmed down, but as we’re only a few days into this, is still (understandably) occasionally unnerved by a behavior she doesn’t understand.
We’re also lucky (and fully researched this in advance) that when we move on from Singapore, bringing the kittens will not be an issue. There is something called the Pet Passport program that allows animals who have followed the rules (all their shots, microchipped, vaxxed against rabies) can by-pass any quarantines when entering a new member country. Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, and the US are all members.
The one downside is that Ravi and I are experiencing minor allergy flare-ups. However, the consistent application of Zyrtec to the problem should do the trick. It’s been about 15 months since we’ve been exposed to pet dander, and unlike with Lady, we are keeping the kittens out of our bedroom (and E’s bedroom and the office) so it will likely take a week or two for our immune systems to re-adjust.