Austen

29 08 2013

I didn’t plan on this happening so fast.  I really thought I’d be taking the time to grieve, to process, to come to some sort of resolution, and who knew how long that would take in the wake of Rosalind’s death.   I manage her being gone okay.  It’s the memories of her last few days that destroy me.  So I don’t revisit them very often.

There is a purebred cat rescue group in my area, and they have the wit to post good pictures of their foster animals, along with their back stories (if they can find them) and vivid descriptions of their personalities.  I’ve been looking at it for years and tormenting myself with the beautiful cats who have somehow found themselves without homes or families.  I toyed many times with the idea of bringing another cat into the house, always discarding it because Clara already had her paws full with Rosalind.

But then Rosalind was gone.  And Clara spent the weeks after wandering the house, calling for someone who wasn’t ever coming back.  Clara got more outgoing and sought out my attention more, which was wonderful – but underneath it was loneliness.  And maybe I wanted time to process, but Clara had a more immediate need, and I started thinking of finding another cat for our home.

About that time, the rescue group got in several ragdolls.  Some were too far away for me to reasonably visit, and I couldn’t ask the foster homes to wait until I showed up.  And then this one showed up less than 20 miles away.

Austen

I spotted him on the rescue site on a Monday evening.  By Tuesday afternoon I had signed the papers, and I brought him home.  He was rescued in Louisville KY, but it took him another six months to find his way to this group in Wisconsin; he had been in shelter/foster care for that entire time.  He was a purring machine from the time I met him, and it didn’t change when I got him home.   As sweet-natured as he is, he must have had a family at some point; he lost them and then spent six months confined to rooms and cages.  He was hungry for interaction and love.

The rescue in Louisville had called him Darcy.  Didn’t love the name, but in keeping with the theme and my love of literary references, I gave him his forever name: Austen.

The first night I kept him in my bedroom and it took him a good three hours to calm down enough to sleep.  He circled, purred, patted on me.  A little after midnight I felt him settle next to me, sigh, and go to sleep.

When I put Austen in his carrier yesterday for a visit to my vet, I could see the look on his face: Here we go again.  I’m going to a new place again.  He was subdued at the vet’s office, not the purring and interactive cat I knew at home.  But when I put his carrier back in my car, he perked up and started talking.  He talked all the way home, all the way into the house.  And when we got there I let him follow me out of the bedroom he had been confined in, to go and explore his new home.   It was apparently thrilling and overwhelming all at the same time.  Any time he couldn’t see me he called.  And every few minutes he would lie down in the middle of the floor, processing all this new territory.

floor

By last night he had figured out a couple of good places – interestingly, some of the same ones that Rosalind loved.  He visited my lap a couple of times but was too wound up to stay there for more than five or ten minutes.  And by 8:30 last night he was just done.

Sleepy

He and Clara made first contact last night.  She is, in spite of the loneliness of the last few weeks, not thrilled with the concept of another cat in the house.   Austen, on the other hand, is friendly and curious about her.  Their meeting last night involved a fair amount of snubbing, but no audible hostility.  So overall it’s a good start.

I am unexpectedly torn… he is such a sweet boy.  But he is not my Rosalind.  It is unfair to all of us to expect him to be anything but the lovely cat he is.  So I will continue my processing in another form.  And Austen will finally begin believing that he has a home and a family again; I hope to never again see the kind of resignation and hopelessness that I saw in him yesterday.  This is his forever home.

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