The Burtons Make Room For Two

by Kevin Burton

    Four mouths to feed on a Sunday morning. Four heartbeats on the second floor.

    It’s the morning after the big move and our two new cats seem to be at home already. Yes, two new cats.

    Making their Page 7 debut today are Ronnie and Gabbie. That Ronnie is the short-for-Veronica kind of Ronnie; we got two female cats. 

   Jeannette and I left the house yesterday figuring to come back home with our dry cleaning and one new cat.  Fast forward to the return trip and there is spitting emanating from the carrier on the back seat. So you know that wasn’t one cat spitting at traffic.

   “I had no intention of getting two cats,” Jeannette said. Neither did I. How did this happen?

   About a year ago I wrote a five-part series about my old cat Mex, who died two years ago.  There is probably no end to the words I could write about her.  She was a pistol, as they say, an impossible act to follow. 

   We said a new cat would have to be declawed but then we read up on the damage declawing does to cats. We said we would not do that to a cat, so any new cat would have to be one that had been declawed by somebody else.

   We went to “Save The Kitties,” a cat rescue in the town north of us to find a new friend. I wrote about the place on Page 7 (“Derby Non-Profit Is All About The Cats, Sept. 8).  To adopt from them you have to promise in writing not to declaw the cat(s).

   Hannah Spelts, the owner/manager said from time to time the shelter got female cats who had already been declawed.  That was our plan.

   We had some work to do, decluttering the house before we would adopt.  We got that done, but the timing of adoption day was more about the condition of our hearts.

   This has been a heartbreakingly difficult year. The worst of it was Jeannette’s father passing away. Add the Covid worries, my mother moving to assisted living and then some other smaller family dramas and disappointments. The year-end picture you get is one of two stressed-out people.

   We talked through some things Friday. It came to my mind that maybe this was the perfect time to get the cat to lift up our spirits. Before I could say it out loud, Jeannette did.

   I told Spelts we were looking for a young, declawed female cat. She replied that they had a six-year-old.

   We took some time to think about that. We wanted a kitten. Should we wait? Should we consider a declawed male cat? Should we adopt the six-year-old?

   After a few days we decided to go see the six-year-old. If she would have us we said, we would have her.

   When we got to the shelter we discovered they indeed had a six-year-old but there was also an 11-year-old cat. Both were declawed. They came from the same family so they were a set. 

   We played with both cats and did some quick thinking. We didn’t want to break up the set, so yes to Ronnie meant yes also to Gabbie.

   Ronnie is the six-year-old. I have already nicknamed her Ronnie Spector, after the Ronettes star, and she has agreed to “be our little baby,” but not our one and only of course. Gabbie is our little beepballer, because she tends to flop on her side in the way beep baseball players do when they play defense. 

    In retrospect I’m not sure why we were set on a kitten.  Jeannette and I have seen more than a few sunrises and I’m not sure how we would cope with a kitteny creature bouncing off the walls.

   As a test, I sent not one, not two, but five balls rolling across the basement floor. There is the soft foam baseball, the mini tennis ball, the hard plastic ones, one with a bell inside. They are different sizes and colors so it looks like somebody broke a model of the solar system and some of the planets fell on the floor.

   But the toys drew barely any notice. It was Gabbie, the older one, who kicked the ball with a bell inside a few times as if to say “I am aware that you did this for us, I kicked one, let’s move on now.” 

   There are some complications. Ronnie needs to lose maybe a pound, whereas Gabbie could stand to gain half a pound. How do I feed them both in the same area?  I’ll go on the diet with Ronnie, there’s one good idea.

   Not sure what we’ll do. We’ll figure it out together, the four of us in our forever home.

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