Retirement - I had long wanted to use my retirement as not only a time to relax, spend more time doing what I loved, such as reading more books, putting more puzzles together, playing more games, and taking more walks, but also as a time I could do something that made a difference.
I've always loved animals, but cats in particular. As we added to our own cat family, we were careful to consider our age, our budget, and the space we have. Our house is small, with a usable basement.
Four cats seemed to be our magic number. We already had a senior Greta. We adopted three more over the span of a few years from French Creek Animal Rescue. Chevy, Rudy, and Trudy were each five or six months old, already had their spay or neuter surgeries and first vaccinations. We thought, "We can grow old the same time they grow old. A win-win for all of us."
We couldn't afford to care for more. We also had to consider the fact that cats live 15 or more years. At our ages, we'll be in our mid- to late-70s by the time the three younger cats reach 15. And, because we adopted from a shelter, if the worst happened to us, the cats would go back to the shelter. Not the best solution, but at least they wouldn't be homeless or have to be put down because they had nowhere to go. We thought we had the perfect plan.
Fostering cats for area shelters was also in my plan. Shelters overflow, particularly in the spring. Fostering gives more cats a chance at a forever home. Also, a win-win, because I could help cats find good homes and not add to our own little family.
But, life has a way of stepping in. And, it changes everything.
Which is how we ended up with seven cats, two of them kittens. A young, pregnant feral female showed up on the deck in February. I trapped her, gave her the guest room, and she had her babies there. Working with the local Fix Erie organization, the plan was to give the feral mom, Bella, a safe place to give birth and raise her babies, have her spayed, and either release her back out here, or go to a farm as a barn cat.
Two babies were born, but only one survived the birth. A gorgeous little tuxedo girl we named Skeeter. Now we have a mom and daughter. Mom Bella, learned to play with toys. She learned food is readily available. She learned that chairs and beds are softer than the hard ground. Still, she has her feral ways. No one can touch her. She touches me, though. She loves the pampered life. No way was I going to put her back outside.
As bonded as they are, we didn't even think about splitting Bella and Skeeter up. Shelters had no room anyway. So, we added two more to our family.
Six cats, OK. We've done that before. But, life steps in again. In a strange twist of fate, a kitten calls from the ditch across the road. She's loud, and she's in trouble. Who could ignore that? That's when little Trixie entered our lives.
With still blue eyes, and a sparkling personality, we, of course, could not say no to adding her to the family.
That's how we ended up with seven cats. If that's the "end." You never know what life is going to throw at you. I love my zoo. These cats surprise me and make me laugh every day. And, if people are shocked or think we're crazy because we have seven cats, let them. Our lives are filled with fun, love, and so much more. We're giving these cats love, something they did not have before. Maybe those people are just jealous.
I want to thank several dear friends who helped with the unexpected expenses that came with adding three new cats to the mix. The cats and I love you.
Wishing all of you a happy and safe holiday season. Enjoy the family, whether it's humans, fur babies, or both. Until next year...