(Post 205 of 263)
My beautiful girl Alma is home and I look forward to the life we will build together. She is only three, so unlike adopting a senior, I’m thinking long-term with her, past ten years.
I agonised for years about having another cat. When I was a tenant, it really did not make sense to get a cat because I did not own most of the furniture. And then I got Bonita, who was happy as long as the doors to outside were kept open, so I would’ve had to compromise with a cat that I had to allow outdoors. Now that I own the home and the contents and Bonita is gone, having a cat began to make more sense. So I began to hyper focus on all of the negative things about a cat, imagining myself with the worst case scenario even though those have been the exception. I imagined myself with a cat who doesn’t use the litter box and scratches everything and is very destructive and misbehaved, just trying to talk myself out of getting one of the sweetest and cuddliest and most magical creatures on this earth. The fact is that I have had way better luck with cats than not.
Then, there was also the thought of the freedom I gained after Tabitha and Neelix passed in 2013, and now again with Bonita gone four weeks ago yesterday. I wanted to start travelling again. It made no sense to bring in another pet, right?
But it’s not like I’m going to be taking long trips again any time soon. A cat can be left for a few nights and is easier to find a sitter for. Why deny myself a companion when I’m home for the couple of weeks total I might end up travelling in the near to mid-term?
What about the long-term? I adopted Tabitha at about the same age and she lived thirteen years with me. So the odds are better than not that I’m going to be ready again for extended travel while Alma still has many years left. I’m not fretting about that. Not because I don’t want to think about it or I’m trying to live for the moment, but rather because I saw our future, and it’s all going to work out just fine.
I really believe that things happen for a reason, that certain people cross our paths for a purpose, that sometimes things might not make sense at the moment but then there’s a moment of clarity in the future. That’s how I feel about Alma.
Remember how in 2016 I have sat in Spain for 2 1/2 months? Little did I know that I was staring at my future. The homeowner was like me, somebody who had been very nomadic in her youth and who entered her 40s realizing that she needed a home, a sense of roots, somewhere to land. Spain made sense to her the way Mexico makes sense to me. And so she bought a house and made a home, but she continued on her adventures knowing there was finally somewhere to return to. But home was fairly lonely, so she got a cat, and eventually built the garden of her dreams. And she got very good at finding house and plant sitters that would also be good caregivers to her cat. She also found a reliable housekeeper that would make sure her house and everything was exactly in order when she would come back from her trips. And so she found a way to reconcile her nomad and her sedentary selves, to keep nourishing her need to travel while have a place to recharge.
And that’s what I’m going to do, continue to build my life by design step by logical step. And when I’m ready to travel again, I’ll have an example to follow in how to feel safe leaving my home and my girl behind.
So after working through all that, I decided that I was going to do this. My requirements were:
I spent some time on various Merida cat adoption groups and saw that finding an adult was going to be difficult. And then Alma showed up. And she showed up again. And again.
Alma was rescued pregnant from the street about six months ago. The lady who took her in is one of so many people in Merida who take animals off the street, sterilize them, get them medical treatment, and then adopt them out to the right home. She had no trouble finding a home for the kittens, but no one wanted a cat who was approximately three.
I could not get her big blues eyes out of my mind. I finally reached out on Friday to see if she was available. I had a chat with the lady where I learned that Alma (then Cali/Gorda) was loving but not playful and knew how to use a litter box. Her rescuer hoped to put her in a home where she would be the centre of attention and be kept as a pampered house cat. Really, it was a match meant to be! We agreed that I would pick her up yesterday, Sunday, so I had a lot to prepare on Saturday!
Friday night, I started to think about names. I wanted something that could be said in French, English, and Spanish. I looked at a list of universal names and had a visceral reaction to Alma (soul in Spanish, nourishing in Latin). I can’t explain it; I just knew that was her name.
Next was to get everything she needed. When I got Bonita, I did a Walmart run that wasn’t very fruitful. So for Alma, I instead looked on Marketplace for a pet store that might deliver and found one in Francisco de Montejo, very near me. They put together a package for me of everything I needed but her food, so I ordered that from Walmart, along with more litter. I doubt I’ll keep her on this food for long, but I will be transitioning her gently. I suspected that Alma’s rescuer would not accept any cash as compensation for everything she spent on Alma and her kittens, so I got her two bags of the food, which I figured would be easier to accept.
My friend Jan generously agreed to drive me down near the airport to pick up Alma yesterday afternoon. It sounds far, but there was almost no traffic on a Sunday afternoon, so it was a pretty quick roundtrip, less than an hour. As I expected, the food was accepted but the money was rebuffed. I’m glad I had that foresight. This woman does very good work. She even asked for a copy of my ID and was happy to learn that she could follow Alma’s progress on Instagram.
Alma was very quiet on the ride home. I had set up the “bonus” room for her, so when we got in, I opened her carrier, with the intention of letting her come out and explore at her own pace. She did lean into a quick scritch, so that was very promising!
She was out of her carrier and exploring her new room in under 30 minutes. After giving her a couple of hours to settle, I decided to see if she might want to watch some TV with me. She let herself be picked up and shocked me by snuggling next to me and purring for over two hours! My heart grew about ten sizes last night. Alma was just what I needed.
This morning, I found her under the treadmill. Soon as she saw me, she yelled at me and then she went to hide behind the blinds in the window. I gave her some time and then tried for a repeat of last night. She was again very happy to come and cuddle while I had my coffee.
I think Alma is going to be exactly the kind of cat I need her to be, like my Tabitha was when I brought her home nearly a quarter of a century ago, a loyal companion who loves to snuggle but is just fine with my abandoning her to the right people when I need to see something different.
And so, after four terrible weeks, I have a home again and getting up in the morning is going to get easier.