The past week was anything but boring. A lot of things seemed to be happening simultaneously in my life. I blame it on spring, but then again, that is the whole point of spring isn’t it? Change and new beginnings. Well, in the middle of the work day I received a phone call from the quarantine section of the Tierschutz Verein Berlin (Berlin Animal Shelter) where I got Kessy. The familiar voice of the caregiver was a welcome respite albeit nostalgic. I informed her of Kessy’s passing and she chuckled saying that it made her phone call even more timely. There were two Persian cats up for urgent adoption in the quarantine section, one of them was older, relatively healthy but extremely depressed. If she didn’t find a new home soon she would wither away in the shelter out of sheer depression – a sentiment I could well identify with. The second one, on the other hand, has several tumours in her abdomen to be dealt with and wasn’t ready for adoption just yet, but the shelter would prefer if they remained together. Wow, talk about being put on the spot.
So I agreed to take in the first one, even without seeing her. A cat in need is a cat in need. End of story. So yesterday I made my pilgrimage over to the shelter and rang the familiar bell at the quarantine section. The papers were ready and this is the face that greeted me with the strangest sound, a cross between a raspy meow and a hiss:
I have to admit I was a bit taken aback at her appearance at first. Cherry (pronounced Sherry, like the drink) and her partner were given up at the shelter a couple of weeks ago in a terrible mess. Both Persians, they had been neglected for a long time and there was no way of combing through all the dirt, grime and knots that their fur had become. Shaving was the only option, and so Cherry’s painfully thin body is exposed, with only a very short layer of fur left on it. They left some fluffy parts on the four paws and the head, so it looks like she is wearing winter boots and a misfit headgear.
The paperwork was processed quickly because I am already in the system. But only then did I find out that I had to provide the shelter with an official notice of Kessy’s death. Cherry’s adoption is not a palliative one, so I had to fill out the regular forms, agreeing to comply with the humane treatment of care, shelter and food, and not to pass her on to anyone else in case it doesn’t work out. The ride home was uneventful and Cherry turned out to be a rather good passenger, making one or two remarks along the way, but there were no accidents or biological political statements.
The first encounter with Champagne was very peaceful. The Thai in her makes her the perfect hostess, welcoming and friendly, curious about the new arrival and eager to make friends. Cherry, however, had other ideas. There were no spats the first hour, but when Champagne tried to come closer to sit next to Cherry, the older cat exploded in a tantrum that scared the daylights out of my little princess, who doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body, and having being abused before, cowers in fear when scolded by humans or shouted at by other animals.
Cherry is fit 10 years old, fit as a fiddle, curious, agile, a good jumper, and very chatty. She always has something to say or ask, and has the classic Persian cat expression of utter disdain. As I said to a few people in a text, “the grump is strong with this one.”
What a difference a good night’s sleep and the realisation that love is the name of the game, not survival. Cherry has turned into a purring machine, a walking definition of unabashed affection and can be rather comical. She gives Champagne the oddest looks when the other one is fast asleep and snoring loudly. I woke up at 3:00am to a frail and scared cat who walked all over me and needed affirmation and affection. Once I cooed her back to sleep, I had a purring ball next to me, until 7:00am when she marched around demanding action and entertainment. The friendship will take much longer to develop between these two cats, by no fault of Champagne, who keeps trying to approach and make friends. Kessy is wary, and still learning the ropes, but she will come around.
As for Cherry’s partner, who is still in the ICU of the shelter waiting to undergo her second surgery, she misses Cherry and hates being locked up. Her adoption will definitely be palliative care, because the first tumour has turned out to be malignant.