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19 November 2007

It had been two months since Katrina passed away. Our dear, sweet kitty with the defective heart valve had given us 8 fun years together, and we missed her. Sebastian, our remaining cat, missed her too – he had taken to following me everywhere, even sleeping at my feet at night. However, we weren’t sure we wanted another cat. Steve liked having to scoop the litter box less often, our cat food bill was significantly smaller, and we didn’t know if Sebastian would want another companion.

On Saturday I finished making the mini album in Katrina’s memory. Lovingly I flipped through the pages, remembering all of the good times. Then I placed it on the bookshelf that holds the rest of our family albums.

On Tuesday I got this e-mail from a friend:

Hi, thought I would forward this email on, as I think you’re my only friend
who is a big time cat lover with a big enough heart, you might consider taking
this kitty.
-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
We have an adorable kitten at our house that can be yours for free!  This past 
weekend we went to Burlington in Eastern Colorado and this kitten hitched a ride
under our car, although we didn’t know it, all the way back to our house (160 
miles!). The kitten is orange striped with yellow eyes and seems very sweet. 
It's very important to get it out of our house, though, because I'm very 
allergic and I fear for its life with my dog (and husband) around! Please tell 
any kitten lovers you may know that it's available and have them give me a call
ASAP. Thanks!

I thought about it all day – I’ve always wanted an orange cat, ever since we had a sweet tom named Pumpkin when I was a child. But if we got another cat, it would have to be a female. We’d planned to visit a shelter when Steve had some vacation coming and pick out an adult, rationalizing that Sebastian would be irritated by the antics of a kitten. On a whim, I sent Sara an e-mail before I went to bed, asking if she’d found a home for her kitten, and if not, was it male or female.

I had my answer before breakfast. Female, and still no home for her. Please come get her. So I paced for a few minutes. Did I really want to do this? What would Steve think? And then I made a phone call. Was she healthy? Eating? Okay. When will you be home today? Oh, and where are you? Lone Tree, 40 minutes away. This had better be worth it.

It was love at first purr. She was a friendly little beast, with the deep yellow eyes that couldn’t help but remind me of Katrina. Of course we’d take her home. Sara’s 3-year-old daughter was disappointed that she couldn’t keep the kitten. Our 3-year-old daughter couldn’t stop talking about her new kitten and “Mommy can my kitten please stay in my room?”

$175 at the vet – there is no such thing as a free kitten, after all. Four months old, a little over four pounds, and confirmed female. Since she was a stowaway from farm country, we had to assume she hadn’t had any shots and could be carrying any number of diseases or parasites. Amazingly, every test came back clean. She was cleared to join our household.

We set up food, water, litter and toys in Kaitlyn’s room, and I nervously waited for Steve to get home from work. Kaitlyn seemed to have forgotten her big news until after dinner, when she asked Daddy if he wanted to see the new kitten in her room. Sure, he says, thinking I bought her another stuffed animal. Downstairs with the baby, I hear, “What the heck? WHAT THE HELL?!” Kaitlyn squealed with delight and started parroting back, “What the hell? What the hell?” I couldn’t stop laughing.

Fortunately, it was also love at first purr for Steve. With Thanksgiving only a week away, he’d have plenty of time off to get to know our newest family member. In the meantime, we started slowly introducing her to Sebastian. He still isn’t a big fan, but at least he’s no longer threatening her. We hope that as the days go by, they’ll get used to one another. It must be hard to lose your best friend of 8 years and suddenly have this spunky little kitten thinking she can be wherever she wants in your house.

I wanted Steve to choose a name for her, and it took a few days. Tabby was cute but didn’t stick. We both like Fiona but it just didn’t fit. By Saturday morning we were both calling her Paddy, but it felt like it wasn’t quite right. On Sunday morning we again were discussing what to call her, and Steve mentioned that his sister had suggested Burlington. And then it clicked: Paddington. Like the story of Paddington Bear, the stowaway from “Darkest Peru”, who came to the City of Westminster, London, and was adopted by a new family there.

And so it was that Paddington Cat, stowaway from farmland in Burlington, came to be adopted by a new family in the City of Westminster, Colorado.