Six years ago, last week, I got one of those phone calls that falls into the category of dreaded phone calls. It was my parents calling to tell me that my grandfather was dying. As in, his time had come and it would happen any day. Despite that he was 98 years old, it was quite a surprise. He didn’t look like he was 98. He was in good health, and while we finally had to stop him from driving, he still managed to go to mass every day (except Saturday, because there was only evening mass and that was just wrong) and to visit with his friends afterwards. He still called my mother every day to check in, and he still lived on his own. However, one day he wasn’t feeling well, and my uncle took him to the hospital, and things went downhill from there.
So, I told my manager at work that while I was waiting for the call, I would need to go back home for the funeral and thus would need them to plan for me missing a day or two of work, depending. Other than that, we were just going about our business as usual, waiting for the final call. Among our business as usual was running errands. It was a Saturday, and we went to a neighboring suburb for me to pick up some sewing supplies. We were in one of those “lifestyle” sort of shopping centers where most things aren’t actually connected to each other, but walking between places can be treacherous, so you are still expected to move your car periodically and re-park, despite that it’s all one shopping center. Whoever invented these things should be inflicted with some sort of Karmic retribution, as they are terrible. That’s beside the point. The point is, that the fabric store was in close proximity to the pet supply store. A pet supply store that also has pets for adoption on many occasions. We popped in to grab some cat food, and peruse the adorable animals (which can be dangerous, as that’s how we wound up with two of the cats we had at home). Of course, since it was a Saturday, there was an adoption event to take advantage of the influx of weekend shoppers. A local cat shelter/foster had brought in many, many kitties. Some kittens, some adult cats. We checked them out, and while there was nothing wrong with any of them, we could live without them. We would indeed make it out with only cat food!
Then, we saw the flyer. A flyer with a gingery smush face. G and I had conversations over the years that he would like to one day have a Himalayan cat again, and I agreed but said it should be a flame point. This was a red Persian, which was pretty close (I mean, a Himalayan is a *Persian* bred with Siamese). We could even use the name for him we had discussed for said flame point Himalayan. We started to read the flyer, and one of the women from the cat rescue came over to us. Despite the adorable face on the flyer, we weren’t really in the market for another kitty. While we’d lost one within that last year, we were still a three cat household. Really, that is plenty. However, this woman started talking to us about the kitty, whose given name was Farley. His owner lost her vision due to complications from Diabetes, and felt she couldn’t give him the care he needed. With him being a Persian, they were hoping to find him a home with someone who had experience with Persians. We told her that G had a Himalayan when he was younger, and my sister had a Persian for a time that I helped take care of. The next thing we knew, she was taking down the flyer and putting it in our hands. We tried to protest, but it was futile. The petite woman was determined, and in her mind we were calling the cat’s owner up and making arrangements.
An approximation of the photo on the flyer in question.
We got out to the car, and since the flyer was no longer posted, we felt a bit like we had to call and at least meet this cat, so maybe the flyer could go back up for someone who was in the market for a cat. We called the number and found out it was for the sister of the cat’s owner. She had been tasked with helping find Farley a new home. She gave us the number for Farley’s owner. So, we called the actual owner of the cat. We could tell immediately that there was an interesting story. When we told her about the flyer, and that we spoke with her sister who put us in touch with her, she said, “Wow. She finally actually did something I asked her to do.” We had some worry that we might be getting in the middle of some family drama, but still arranged to meet the beautiful kitty from the flyer.
We went to the apartment of the owner, which was in a sort of assisted living complex. While she was not elderly, she did have some special needs due to her lack of vision. We went to her door, she let us in, and we saw Farley. We were rendered speechless. He was adorable. Also, beautiful. He was clearly shy, and she had closed the doors to the bedroom and bathroom so he wouldn’t be able to hide and prevent us from seeing him. He tried to make himself small, and was looking for a possible out, but we still were able to take in his beauty. While we admired, the owner gave us his back story.
As a kitten, he wound up with a very elderly woman. Very. Elderly. She was unable to care for him, and thus he was basically neglected for the first nine months of his life. He made his way to the rescue, where it took them three rounds with clippers to get his solidly matted fur off. Due to lack of socialization, he was extremely shy, and he also was not great with being groomed as it was a foreign concept to him. However, he was a young, attractive cat. So, the sister that we spoke to first came to meet him, as she worked with the rescue and was a veterinary tech by trade. She thought he would make the perfect companion for her sister, who lived alone and was legally blind. She called her sister, and told her about the kitty. The potential kitty mama had some concerns, however. Because of her lack of vision, she would have a difficult time caring for him. She definitely couldn’t trim his nails, and brushing him would also be difficult. Also, because she couldn’t drive, she would need help getting him in for check-ups and such. The vet tech sister assured her that she would help take care of everything. She could come by regularly and trim his nails and make sure he stayed brushed. Plus, if homing him with the blind sister didn’t work out, vet tech sister would gladly take him in.
So, at about a year old, he came to live in the apartment we were standing in. Things started off well. Then, as the months went by, vet tech sister was unable to come by as she had originally promised. It proved to be difficult to get her to come by to do the necessary grooming for a Persian kitty with claws. Also, because of his history and shyness, his owner sort of just let him be. She was a bit worried that he might be lonely, since she didn’t make him cuddle and hang out with her. She wanted to get him a kitty friend, but her apartment only allowed her one cat. She felt that he wasn’t in the home he deserved, and that he should be somewhere that he could get the regular grooming and attention that someone sighted could provide. So, his owner called her sister and mentioned this, and also mentioned the agreement that she would take him if the situation wasn’t working out. However (and I don’t remember the exact numbers), vet tech sister had a number of cats and dogs at this point, and couldn’t take in another despite her promise. So, the blind woman told her sister that a suitable home needed to be found, and the sister said she would look into it.
Hence the flyer. Which turned out to be a generic Persian picture, as she had the only two photos of him and they were from when he was still shorn. We were told all about Farley’s life. She kept food and water in dishes on the floor for him, and a small dish of treats on the counter for him to help himself to. He had a special blanket that was made for him by a friend, and a scratching post and basket of toys. She mentioned that he also scratched her chair, and that it was entirely her fault. She never stopped him from the bad scratching, so we would need to keep an eye on him. However, the behavior wasn’t his fault, he didn’t learn differently, and she wanted us to know. She reminded us of his shyness, and that while he would often lay near her, he wasn’t a lap cat. She told us that every night, when they were done watching Paul Douglas on the news, they would go for a walk together down the hallway and back to the apartment before hitting the hay.
Admittedly, we were smitten. G reminded me that it wasn’t a good idea necessarily to bring home another kitty. We already had three, and while that was down from four, we shouldn’t necessarily have four cats. So, we told her we would have to think about it. We mentioned that we would love to take him for a trial for a weekend or even for a week to see if he would even get along with our other cats, since he was used to being the only guy. She was amenable to that. The problem was, that we would have to go out of town at any moment for my grandfather’s funeral. We didn’t want to take him home when we wouldn’t be around to see how things were going, and we definitely didn’t think that his first go with us should be a road trip. So, we agreed that we would think on it, and call her when we knew what the funeral arrangements would be and when we could pick him up. We then left with the image of his crazy adorable smush face, and his stocky, fluffy body slinking around. I was in the “we must bring him home!” camp, and G was in the responsible, “it might not be a good idea” camp.
The next day, my grandfather passed. March 9, 2008. We worked out with my parents when the funeral would be, so G and I could be there. We worked out a potential day to come by and get Farley for a trial with our kitties. So, just over a week after we met him on March 18, 2008, G went to pick him up. He called when he was on his way home, to tell me there was a grumpy kitty on the seat next to him. I asked how long we were going to have him to see how it would go.
“Well…here’s the thing.”
It turned out that his owner called her sister to tell her that we wanted to take him for a trial, and the sister contacted the rescue. The rescue told her that since we would be his third owners, if it didn’t work out, they would have to put him down. As though something was wrong with him. Which, it was not at all his fault that it didn’t work out with the current owner. So, his owner told G that she was not going through the rescue to get him to us. She would just give him to us, with all of his things. She told us that if it didn’t work out with us for any reason, to call her and she would find him a new home. We were much more determined to make it work with him, as we didn’t want any risk of killer rescue getting him back! (Not that his owner would let that happen…but still.)
In his first hideout.
So, he came into our home. We immediately christened him Alonzo, because of the Dr. Who episode where the doctor really wants to meet someone named Alonzo. (Later, as such a character popped up, we found out they spelled it “Alonso” but it was too late.) He spent the first day or so in the covered litter box that was given to us. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough to come out, and moved to sitting behind the toilet for a few days. Finally, he made his way into the rest of the house, and staked claim on the space under the dining table. He pretty much stayed there unless his hunger forced him to get something to eat, or his bladder necessitated a trip to the litter box. Otherwise, if you wondered where Alonzo was, he was under the table.
Holding court under the dining table
After a while, he was hanging out and about in our condo. For a long while, whenever anyone came over, he would go back to his safety zone, under the dining table. Eventually, even large gatherings didn’t phase him, and he would hang out on his perch watching the happenings. The first birthday party I had where he was comfortable on his perch, he was seemingly enjoying things. We were playing Rock Band, chatting, eating, etc. Then, my brother-in-law took over the Rock Band drums. Apparently, his drumming style was too much for Alonzo. Alonzo tore down the hall, and a few moments later, a friend told me she came out of the bathroom to see Alonzo there in a panic. Apparently, he wanted to go to his trusty covered litter box in the bathroom, but the door was closed. So, he was at the end of the hall, panicking, with no idea what to do. So, he went into our bedroom for the rest of the evening, safe and sound.
These days, you would not know that he was ever that shy. The only thing that seems to phase him is a fire drill in our apartment building. (We are still trying to work on our boys’ emergency preparedness. It’s slow going.) He will happily allow for guests to admire him, and will even put up with the most strenuous drum players. He is BFF with our Lucifer. In fact, they look like the feline versions of Pinky and the Brain, though their roles are reversed. Lu is long and slender, but he is the plotter. Alonzo, with his large, face, and protruding forehead, just follows along. Lu is great at opening doors for Alonzo to go through. We often find doors that should be closed, open, and Alonzo has hunkered down and made himself at home. When Lu gets the crazies, Alonzo will bound after him to find out what the plan is. We often wonder if the smush faced fluff ball in our apartment is the same one we brought home back then. It’s like he’s a different cat! Though, he still doesn’t like to be brushed, he will put up with it. He also isn’t always keen on when we want to pick him up and give him all the loving, but he does occasionally climb into our laps or onto us while we’re sleeping and purr at the loudest possible volume. While his purrs are loud, his meows are not. We know that if he does meow, the situation must be dire.
The trouble brigade on patrol at the condo.
I don’t remember when it was exactly, but we realized he was a British spy, knighted by the queen for his efforts. Hence, he is Sir Alonzo Bigglesworth. With all the Bigglesworths out there of questionable breeding, we must clarify that he is from the very fine, upstanding, Saint Paul Bigglesworths. He has many aliases, because of all of his missions over the years. We are working on getting together passport photos of him in these various disguises.
Even though we weren’t sure if it was a good idea to bring him home back then, we can’t imagine life without our big fluffball. He is mesmerizing in his adorableness, and while we fully expect that one day we will look at him and think, “Yeah, he’s just a regular amount of cute,” it hasn’t happened yet. We still get distracted by his intense level of cuteness, and laugh at just how insanely adorable he is. We regularly get distracted by his looks, and even when he’s naughty, we still love him with all our hearts. It’s hard to believe we’ve had him for six years, and he helped make a sad time in our lives much happier.