I want to bring you back a few years and have you visit an outdoor café in Kuwait City. Two sisters are sitting and chatting about the past and the future, about Kuwait, where they grew up, and about Boston, a city one sister now called home. As they sat and talked they witnessed a feral cat being struck by a car. The women ran out and found the poor animal and took it to a veterinarian. The vet told them the cat was Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) positive, which is like telling a human they are HIV positive. The vet wanted to euthanize the cat. The women pretty much told the vet that he would have to euthanize them first. So the cat lived. A leg had to be amputated because of the car, but he was a survivor. Angel, as the sisters called the cat, survived all of the way back to Boston. Being a feral cat in a one bedroom apartment with three other cats, though….
Three years ago we lost our cat Claudius. He was a great cat. I wasn’t in any hurry to replace him. I mean, you can’t replace a child. My wife, however, wanted a companion for the remaining cat, Bartleby. Bart was about 12 and had Claude with him for most of his life. We were just about to leave on a 10 day trip to France. Bartleby needed company. We made the drive to Pat Brody’s Shelter for Cats where we had adopted Claudius.
I would’ve loved a kitten, but so would everyone else. The cat shelter aims most people to the young adult cat room, though there are areas for older cats. My wife was using a toy to try to entice the cats to play while I picked up different cats to see how they reacted.
There was a cat going crazy over the cat toy my wife was using. They played and played and played. I watched and cringed. The cat was scooting along on its hind end. The movements were very strange. I realized it only had three legs. My wife didn’t care, she liked the energy.
Sitting in an outside area for “retired cats” we were told the story of the three legged Arabian Mau named Angel and how it came to the shelter. As we discussed the matter my wife continued to call the cat “Albert”. I knew Albert was coming home with us. His rescuer might be an angel, but I could tell there was mischief in Albert so the cat came with us and the old name stayed.
My wife, as usual, was right.
Albert has more personality than any cat I’ve ever seen. More than a lot of people. As with other rescue cats I’ve known, namely Claudius, Albert seems to be genuinely grateful to us. He somehow knows we rescued him. He is loving. He sleeps with us ever night, despite the boxer in the bed. In fact, Albert gets along very well with Elliot, the boxer.
Albert is great. He can be a terror and is full of mischief, but isn’t that what you want in a cat? One issue: he shows affection by biting. He is a little better than when he first came in. He would occasionally draw blood when he was trying to be nice. Now he sometimes hurts but never draws blood. He learned to be gentle in the way cats learn to use paws with humans, not claws like they use with other cats, even when playing.
The other night I heard purring. I reached up and Albert softly bit my hand. I started scratching his chin. The purring got louder. He reached over and bit me again, a little harder. He was happy. He grabbed my hand and started to lick it with his little sandpaper tongue, still purring away. I just lay there thinking about the super cat by my head.
We don’t know how much time we have with Albert before his disease gets the better of him but we will cherish every moment we do have. So far it’s been three years. We’re hoping for many more.
Albert has been a great companion. I sent the lady who rescued him an email to thank her. She’s the real angel.
And Albert just continues purring. And biting. Biting me softly with his teeth. (With many apologies to Roberta Flack)
All photos by Trent P McDonald.
Note – this is this first of my new regular 1st Monday image Series