I am not sure where to begin, so I will just start writing and hope something interesting comes out! One of my friends got a Ragdoll from a few of her other friends several years ago, and just talked about how affectionate and awesome she was. Now, I do have a household with cats and dogs, but I will say, my affectionate cats have all crossed over the rainbow bridge. The ones that remain, while extremely dear to me, are definitely NOT snugglers. So, when I saw Sylvia posted on the website as a Ragdoll rescue, I thought I might need to meet her! Then when I met her, I did think she was very cool, but was concerned about integrating an adult with my current brood, several of which are quite, well, “opinionated.” I was convinced though, that the Foster-to-Adopt was the way to go, and that way I could try it and hope for the best. The others slowly accepted her, and Sylvia was wonderful. She really had little interest in the other cats, but mostly just wanted to hang with me. She would greet me at the door upon my arrival home and sit on me or by me until bedtime. Then, while I would read, she would literally curl up on my chest and just stare at me lovingly. Our biggest challenge was grooming. She really did not enjoy being brushed, and with mats starting as her hair grew, I tried a number of different types of brushes and mat removing tools. We eventually found a suitable compromise with a metal comb she actually enjoyed. She was a gorgeous lilac point with beautiful soulful blue eyes.
Unfortunately, the good times were short-lived. Poor Sylvia started having issues with bloody pee and poor appetite accompanied by significant weight loss. About this same time, one of my other cats, George, started having huge issues with Sylvia. I instigated lengthy play sessions to tire him out, which helped considerably, but he remained highly stressed. I worked closely with my vet, repeatedly taking Sylvia in, trying different things until one visit, my vet detected a slight increase in the size of her abdominal lymph nodes. From there it was x-rays, and ultrasounds and a complete work up, the results of which were diagnosis of advanced lymphoma. I am pretty certain that George had diagnosed her before my vet did, and I really believe that he may not have understood exactly, but he knew something was very wrong with her.
The best treatment option was basically to try and keep her as comfortable as I could. We did start a regimen of prednisone to try and shrink whatever was growing out of control. She continued to eat well for about 5 weeks, at which time she stopped taking her pills and eating altogether. I kept trying, and waited a few days in the hope that she would bounce back. When I took her in, I was hoping there was something else we could try, but my vet convinced me it was time to let her go. I knew he was right. And so that was what we did. I was incredibly surprised at how upset I was, as I only had my precious Ragdoll for about six months. I did not realize how attached I was to her I think, and the suddenness of ending her misery and the finality of it all broke my heart.
After a few weeks, with my heart slowly healing, it became obvious to me that George was missing Sylvia. I was missing her too, and I think we actually strengthened our bond over that. George is a special cat too that was a rescue from a different organization here in St. Louis. He is enormous (not FAT, just LARGE), but a super wimp at the same time. He hides in the basement whenever someone he does not know comes over, and after they leave, he remains down there for two hours OR MORE just to make sure they are actually gone and not coming back!
One thing I discovered with Sylvia was that I loved the long hair! I had never had a long-haired kitty before, and I really loved the beauty of it, and did not mind the maintenance of it at all. I was joking around with some of the folks in my building (former STLCC students of mine) that I wanted a friendly long-haired cat. Well, one of my former students/friends actually fosters for Stray Haven (hi, Iwona!) and mentioned something to Dawn who started emailing me with friendly long-haired cats available for adoption! I started thinking about it! And thinking about it….and then I was sitting with George next to me one night. I emailed Dawn the following morning, saying that I just thought my house had been through so much, especially George. I did not think I could put them through the acclimation involved with another adult cat. I had been looking on the website, and there was an adorable black long-haired kitten. I thought perhaps I should meet her?
Dawn and everyone associated with Stray Haven have been so wonderful. They have accommodated me in every way they could think of… Dawn put me in touch with the black kitten’s foster mom, and I made arrangements to meet her. Meanwhile, Dawn was now forwarding me pictures of available kittens! I met the black kitten, but I just did not feel any connection with her at all. I actually was thinking perhaps this was a sign that it was too soon for me, and I was not going to like any other cat or kitten for a while. There was one other kitten that Dawn had shared a picture and I thought, OK, I will meet this other one. Then maybe give it a break for another month or two. Try again then.
Again, I got in touch with Dawn, who put me in touch with the foster mom (Linda, YOU ROCK!). We agreed to meet at the Petco near my house. She brought the kitten along with her two brothers. I don’t know what to say. I was not wanting to like this little kitten. I was not expecting to like this little kitten. But the second I saw her, and the minutes after that watching her play with me and her brothers, I knew this was the perfect kitten for me, and for my household. I had an instant connection with this little darling, Petunia Lily Rose, and even now, weeks later, am constantly picking her up, and commenting on how adorable she continues to be! She will be medium to long haired, but even if she was short haired (like my others!), her enthusiastic and charming personality won me over instantly. And the bonus?
That charm seems to be working on all of my older cats too! They all like her, and I think are secretly playing with her when I am not there to witness! She and George are also working on forging a relationship. Petunia (a.k.a. Tuney or Lil’ bit) has on more than one occasion, startled or frightened George with her exuberance! For those paying attention, that would be a TWO pound baby cat and an 18 pound enormous adult cat! Progress is being made every single day, and currently they do pal around and sleep by each other. I am feeling very confident that Petunia will be a companion for George as well as for me!
Now, I am a scientist. As such I deal with data and logic. But there is also a mystical part to me. I am so happy that I was able to provide Sylvia a home for what turned out to be the last six months of her life. She was secure and I hope she knew how much she was loved. There is a part of me that thinks she came to me to be a place holder, knowing her existence was temporary and time remaining was short, not to break my heart, but to hold the spot in my house, timing it all perfectly, so that Petunia Lily Rose would find her perfect home, and me the perfect addition.
~ Elizabeth B.