Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Love at First Sight

A short writing exercise on the theme of love at first sight

George, back in the day
George and Gracie joined us 11 years ago, twin purebred Bengal cats that tussled and slept and played and misbehaved and lit up our lives. In their early years they played fetch and leaped up on tall cabinets in single bounds. George loved to bring me leather sticks to toss from our bed, and he often somersaulted while trying to nab them in mid-air. But George had a genetic defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, which we soon learned would shorten his life. At about age seven he slowed noticeably, never even resisting when we gave him his medication. The jumping stopped completely, and he spent hours snuggling next to Gracie or curled up on Nancy’s lap. There were scary episodes involving late-night trips to the veterinarian followed by days of careful watching and TLC at home.

Then on Valentine’s Day, 2013, he collapsed and appeared near death. We rushed him to the vet, but nothing could be done. I looked into George’s eyes as the vet put him to sleep.

We were devastated, although Nancy held herself together better than I did. For over a week I moped until she said, “Let’s go down to Safe Haven,” the no-kill animal shelter. We looked at many cats of various ages, all so deserving of good homes, but we agreed we’d take only one. There was one older cat with an ugly face that looked like he’d been in some nasty fights – the poor fellow deserved a better life than he’d had so far, but we had to consider how he’d get on with our gentle Gracie, and decided that he wouldn’t.

Then we found a 10-month-old cat that had just given birth to a litter of eight. We entered their enclosure, and Nancy sat down. We wanted one from that litter, but which one? All were gray and white mixed-breed beauties, but most of them shied away from us.

And then one of them jumped into Nancy’s lap as if to say, “Here I am. Take me home.” She was mostly gray with a white breast and white feet.


“Her name is Socks,” the caretaker said. We took her home, deciding to call her Calcetines – Spanish for Socks. Almost as quickly, Calcetines became simply Tina.  Our immediate love for Tina didn’t diminish what we feel for Gracie and George.

They are all family, always including George.