“Whitey!” had become a common exclamation around the clinic. Whether he was parading in front of an exuberant 80-pound lab in the lobby who was trying to rip his owner’s arm off to get to the brave furball, hiding high above the runs in the kennel at dinnertime, or yowling loudly while wondering the hospital, he was becoming increasingly exasperating for the staff. Some thought he had lost his mind, others thought he was just old, but I was in the camp who believed he was just tired of living in the confines of the animal hospital. Everyone knew how much I love him and they began begging for me to take him home. I had been grappling with the idea for months. I have my own geriatric kitty, who is in chronic renal failure as well, in addition to a very energetic Chihuahua/Dachshund mix. The last thing I wanted to do was upset my happy household. I’ve loved Whitey from the day I met him and my heart went out to him as I saw him becoming increasingly agitated (and agitating) the longer he lived at the clinic.
Whitey had been a frequent topic of conversation over our dinner table since he came to the clinic. My husband and 2 boys, who are also huge cat-lovers, were thoroughly entertained by his antics but we hadn’t seriously discussed having him join our family until recently. When I told them how unhappy, and misunderstood, I thought he was becoming, we all agreed that we should give it a shot. Adult cats usually don’t accept other adult cats into their lives easily or at all. They may become stressed and stress in cats can manifest as a number of undesirable behaviors, like inappropriate urination (uhg!!). So we took Whitey with the stipulation that if he and Butters could not get along, he’d go back to the clinic.
I brought Whitey home after work one day and unlike his usual vocal self he was quiet as a mouse in his carrier on the 20-minute drive. I released him into “his bathroom” that consisted of his litter box, food, and water. I shut the door and rushed downstairs to put the other pets outside while Whitey quietly waited to be let out to explore the house. It was a hot summer day and all the windows upstairs were open. An impending storm brought a warm wind that blew in through the open windows. Whitey, cautious yet confident, strode through each room taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of his new surroundings but returned to the north-facing window in my son’s room where, after months of living in the sterile environment of the hospital, the breeze and the fresh smell from the storm must’ve felt like a welcome embrace from an old friend.
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