Been a rough weekend. Yesterday, Midnite, my big, black cat who’s been my companion for 15+ years, went into the hospital, in truly bad shape. We’ve known for a while he’s been deteriorating. Renal failure. For the past 3 months, we’ve been giving him daily sub-cutaneous IVs to try and keep his kidneys flushed. Best we could hope for was to maintain, keep his quality of life up. Some cats last a while. Some don’t make it for more than a few weeks. We got about three months. This morning, I knew what was coming, but that didn’t help any. By 11, Midnite’s 9th life ran out.
So, Pam and I came home, I shut myself in my office and prepared to do what I usually do when something goes terribly wrong. Throw myself into work, try and turn production into distraction. I wasn’t going to look for another cat. Not today. At the vet’s, I told Pam not to stay in the room with us. One of the few benefits to blindness-I didn’t have to see it. Didn’t make it much better, but so be it. I sent Pam out to the front and told her it was time to start looking at the posts on the bulletin board. It was time for us to save another cat.
But I didn’t expect anything to come of it, and not surprisingly, it didn’t. There were three posts on the board, but no young black cats. So I went home, cleared out my e-mail, and decided to take a look at Craigslist.
Flash back to last October, when my sister and I decided to get my Mom a dog for Xmas. We both spent weeks on Craigslist, looking through possibilities. And every day, there were dozens of cat adoption ads. Day-in, day-out, you couldn’t randomly click on the screen and not hit a cat who needed a forever home.
Today? I scrolled two screens-at least 50 ads-and didn’t see a one. Odd, I was thinking, when I hit the first. I clicked it. The ad was for a black and white cat, a few years old, at a shelter. The person who placed it, hideously, ended the ad (of course, from the cat’s point of view) with the words, “Please come & re-home me, save me.”
Well, that was enough. A cat needed saving. black and white, which for me was close enough. I dialed.
“The number you have reached is not in service. Please check the number and dial again.”
Oh well, I thought, whoever placed the ad for the shelter mistyped the number. Skip it and move on. Only, I couldn’t. I had the shelter address in the ad.
I tried again on my home phone, just to be sure. Same message. I opened up Google and did a search for the shelter. Boom, listing came right up. Same number, though. Really strange, because the page showed it had recently been updated, and you don’t usually have county facilities with the wrong number up for long when you’re desperate to place animals. I called again. Same message.
It had only been a couple of hours. I was a wreck, and I knew it. The number wasn’t going to change, no matter how many times I dialed. But I dialed anyway.
I gave up and shut the Google window. But before closing the ad on Boots the cat, I tried one more time. Only, I did it on my cell phone. Which shouldn’t have made a difference. The area code was the same. It was a local exchange. I got the same long delay before the funny ring.
And then, someone picked up. I’d been about to end the call. The woman was nice, asked what I was interested in. I told her Boots, the cat in the Craigslist ad.
“I’m sorry, sir. We don’t have any craigslist ad up today.”
“Uh, I’m reading it right now. It’s how I got your number.”
“Hold on, please,” she says. I hear her start talking to another woman.
Then a keyboard click-clacking. I clearly hear somebody else say, “No.”
“Sir? I’m sorry, but we don’t have any craigslist ad up today. And, we don’t have any cat named Boots.”
“Wait, listen,” I say, and read her the ad. She tsk-tsks.
“That’s our shelter, and that’s our phone number,” she confirms. “But we don’t have a black and white cat named boots. We only have a female black cat here.”
“Oh. Well, can you tell me about that cat?”
“Hold on.” She leaves. I wait. She comes back.
“Okay,” she says. “Black cat, approximately four years old, female. Surrendered because the owner had to move and couldn’t have pets at the new place. All shots, very healthy. Very playful.”
“What’s its name?”
“Ma’am? I’ll call you back.”
I call Pam into my office. I bring up the craigslist ad. Pam reads it. Says to me that we should take a look if that’s what I want to do.
“That cat doesn’t exist,” I tell her.
“Boots doesn’t exist,” I tell her. “Pick up the phone. Dial the number.”
She did, using the home phone. I put it on speaker.
“The number you have dialed is not in service. Please check the number and…”
“Hang up,” I say. Then I ask her to double check the number. Yep, it’s right. She can’t understand it, either. Then I drop the account of the phone call on her. She’s more than taken aback.
“What do you want to do?” she asks. I told her I didn’t know. Because I didn’t. But I had an idea.
I called my sister. I needed somebody else to bounce this off of because I couldn’t even make the numbers work in my head. I mean, the utter dearth of cat ads on craigslist. The one ad for a black cat comes up in Naples, about 45 minutes away. Not the local shelter I’d planned on going to sometime later this week. Then the cat in the ad asking to be saved not existing. The number not working on anything but my cell. And the one cat they had that matched my description has the same name as the cat I’d just said good-bye to a few hours ago. I lay this out for my sister, and she agrees. A black cat named Midnite? Not an odds-stretcher by any means. But combined with all the other stuff? No way. An ad for a nonexistent cat leading me to a shelter in another county on a number I can only reach from my personal cell phone, to a cat with the same name. Long, long long shot, according to my sister.
My sentiments exactly.
“Go,” she said. “Just go. You have to take a shot.”
Pam and I pack up Shadow, my surviving feline furball, and go down to meet this critter. And all the way down there, all I can think is, I don’t really believe in signs or omens or stuff like that. I’ve seen and experienced some truly weird stuff in my life, even one or two unexplainable things. But this.
Pictured, is Midnite. On Monday, Pam and I get to go pick her up, micro-chipped, with all her shots, the flea-guard, everything. I don’t think that shelter has ever had an easier placement.
My Mom called later. She felt terrible. She knows how I get when things like this happen. She wanted to know if I was sure about getting another cat. I told her the same thing I tell everyone when talking pets.
“You only get so many chances. You only get so many four legged friends in a lifetime.”
This weekend is Midnite-free for the first time in 15+ years. My loveable rug ornament is gone. A cat I took without hesitating , after my friend Rob told me his grandfather had passed away, and had a black cat. A cat whose first owner had also died. One cat, two owners in a couple of months. This was not a popular cat. No one wanted him.
No one but me. And we spent the last 15+ years together. A third of my life.
I don’t know how everything will go with the new addition to the family. You never can tell with cats. But Shadow and the new Midnite met and did fine, and the dog certainly doesn’t mind cats, so I’m kinda optimistic about the whole thing working out.
If I were an ‘omen’ guy, I’d say it was inevitable. But I’m not.
Today nudged me a little closer, though, to be sure.
Rest well, Midnite. I hope we made you as happy as you made us. Fingers crossed, I’m wrong about the afterlife, and you’ve delivered my message. That’s what I’ll be thinking about when I finally call it a night. Tonight’ll still be rough, but not quite as bad as it could have been.
And there’s one less cat in need of saving.
* * * * * * * * * *
Currently listening to: “Shake Me” by Cinderella