This post is by McColleague Corinne, whose kitty Firefox celebrated his 3rd birthday this week. This post really brings home the bond between a girl and her cat, and the joys of adopting a special furry friend from a shelter…
A cat is probably among the first things I ever wanted in my life. As a young girl, I always wrote my stories about "Stripes" the tiger, "Mint" the cat, etc (I still have most of these little books). All my early artwork was of felines, my birthdays were cat-theme… I had a cat figurine collection, many stuffed tigers, all the Littlest Pet Shop toys, every new cat toy on the block, etc. Obsessed? Probably. My dad was "allergic" and I could never fulfill my dream of having a cat of my own.
Soon after my parents divorced, my mom adopted our first cats – Morgan, then Roxy, and now Tiger. That’s for a different story.
Just about two years ago, I moved to Pittsburgh to start graduate school. Upon arrival, I convinced my roommate Navodit, an international student who’d never had a pet, to bring one home. My reasoning? "When you’ve had a horrible day, you don’t want to talk to anyone, it’s raining, you’re hungry and tired, and you feel awful… you come home to a furry ball of love waiting for you." This led to a special clause on our lease: "Corinne P may have one cat in the apartment".
I literally went to the rescue league the weekend I moved in. I didn’t even wait to unpack and settle in. It was almost Labor Day Weekend 2008 and the league would be closed for the holidays. Plus, the place was overloaded with cats – any animal over a year old was on sale. What timing! So, I went with the goal of adopting a 1+year-old cat that was docile and cuddly. I didn’t want anything too playful.
After the typical ‘cute overload’ of seeing all the caged cats and meeting all of them, I requested my first visit: a black-and-white shorthair. She was incredibly playful and couldn’t sit still. I decided to meet another cat, and wandered down the cages.
I came across a big ginger tabby (or ‘magical orange cat’) named Garfield. He was chowing down and didn’t seem to notice me. I requested to meet him, and the volunteer snorted "Another orange cat named Garfield? How original." She unloaded the guy and started to tell me his story. They’d found him wandering in the suburbs with a collar on and called the number: disconnected. Strangely, someone had shaved his tail so that all he had was a giant puffball. We’re in the visiting room and he has no interest in playing. He’s exploring the place, sniffing me, jumping in my lap, etc. Very sweet and good-natured. I called Navodit to come down and meet this Garfield, because I thought he’d be our guy!
Navodit was hesitant around Garfield. However, the second I handed him over, Garfield curled up in Navodit’s lap and fell asleep. We were both thrilled… and carried our new cat out in a cardboard box that day. As soon as he snuggled up on our sofa I realized he was a spitting image of the Firefox logo. The name stuck.
You’ve all probably heard the mention of Firefox’s early days: it turns out, his sedate and affectionate behavior was his way of demonstrating that he was sick. We spent the next weekend at an emergency vet clinic getting him treated for his feline herpes flare-up: sore pink eyes, sneezing, and no desire to eat or drink. Once he was healthy again, Firefox had two personalities: Bonzo (the crazy guy) and Fox (the sweetheart). In time, Fox dominated and became the cat I love today.
He’s had his share of adventures: a summer without me as I took on an internship in Virginia. The introduction, initial dislike, and eventual love between him and my new roommate’s cat Kenji (ever walked in on cats cleaning each other? awk-ward…). The drive from Pittsburgh to New Jersey when I finished up graduate school. The time I traveled abroad for three months and he broke out, engaging in suspicious and unknown activities for a week and a half. The flight out to Seattle, stowed under a seat in a Southwest plane, with a layover in Chicago.
The Fox and I have a routine about our days: I wake up in the morning and wash up. As I brush my teeth, I let the faucet run so he can drink out of it. I give him a good belly rub or brush down before I leave for work. When I get back, I find him waiting by the bi-fold door and meowing through the glass window. The second I step into my part of the house, he rolls onto his side for another rubdown. Sometimes we’ll have a "chase the laser pointer" session or I’ll watch TV on the futon and snuggle with him. When I take a bath or shower, we bat at each other through the shower curtain and I sometimes spray him to see the stunned look on his face. At the end of the night, I sleep curled up in a ball on my right side – Fox sleeps in the little nook behind my knees.
I can’t imagine not having Firefox with me for these first few years of adulthood. As was my initial promise to Navodit, Fox is still there to console me and be affectionate when I need him the most. He may not be the smartest or most affectionate cat, but he sleeps like a pro. He’ll even “meerkat” for treats. He’s my Fox.
Happy Birthday, Fox: ~3 years old and 2 years of memories.