I’ll never forget the day we first saw Lily. It was at PetSmart near Mechanicsburg, Pa., where we had gone to collect our foster cat.
My kids had asked their father repeatedly for a dog, but he had refused–not using a very original excuse. That the kids wouldn’t take care of it, and he’d have to walk it, etc. (The kids saying the exercise would be good for him didn’t help the situation any.)
The kids didn’t stop asking, till finally I relented. Sort of. One day, when we were at PetSmart, looking at all the adorable cats up for adoption through various rescue groups, we noticed a flyer calling for foster “parents.” I immediately signed up, never expecting to be called, but nonetheless. I didn’t even think about what would happen if we actually got a cat, and my husband objected. He was no an animal person!
Then it happened, as serendipitously as could be. My husband had just for a long trip in Europe. And the call came. Talk about perfect timing. PAWS, the rescue group, had a cat for us. We were to pick him/her up at the store and meet one of the volunteers.
When we got there, she was late. So we looked around at every one of about cages, wondering which one it would be. Then Cynthia, my younger daughter, pointed right an an orange-colored longhair cat and said: “I hope we don’t get that one.” I was amazed, since the cat looked beautiful to me.
I asked her why, and not missing a beat (Cynthia never did), she said: “Because Persians are so snooty.” I laughed bu told her i wasn’t so–only in the commercials. There wasn’t much time to debate the point, because the volunteer had arrived.
“Sorry I’m late,” she said. Then she pointed right at the cat that turned out to be Lily and said: “This is your cat, Mrs. Blank.”
If Cynthia was disappointed, she didn’t say. But it didn’t take more than about half an hour at home with Lily that both girls were crazy about her. They fought over having a chance to hug and kiss her. One thing they both agreed on. As they said, “We want to keep her!”
Everything would have been fine except for a vital thing the volunteer forgot to tell me. At night I put the girls to sleep, read a while, then stroked Lily on the cheek and kissed her good-night. She was sitting on a bookcase, near a window sill, looking as if she had been there forever. Then I drifted into a peaceful sleep; finally I had a pet!
The next morning, however, there was no Lily. I ransacked our very large house, looked outside (though here was no chance she could have gotten out), and ransacked everything again. She was absolutely nowhere to be seen. “Distraught” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. She wasn’t even our cat!
Won’t go into every detail, but after a few days, I realized I had better call the PAWS volunteers. After all, she was supposed to be with us for only a week, and the days were going by, and I had no idea where she was. What a terrible burden of guilt I felt, and he kids didn’t want to go to school because they wanted to help find her.
The volunteer came, asked to be reminded what kind of cat Lily was, then went straight to the closet in my husband’s study. There was Lily wedged in the corner behind a bunch of stuff. The volunteer reached in and pulled her ou.
So what was that something they had forgotten to tell me? That a cat who comes into a new environment, especially a big one, needs to be isolated for a few days so he/she wouldn’t be afraid. Duh… Well, we hadn’t isolated her, and even we all cooed over her and kissed and hugged her out of love, Lily went into hiding.
Well, this time we did it right. We isolated her. She never tried to run away again.