little lion man

Saturday was a busy day.  It was my roommate’s birthday.  (Happy birthday, J!).  And it was finally time to adopt our new cat and pick up the cake we’d had made to celebrate roomie’s birthday, the anniversary (albeit late) of my gall bladder surgery, and the life of dear Cleo.

I wasn’t feeling too great on Friday and ended up falling asleep a 8 pm–and waking up at 4 am.  Which meant I was really hyper and raring to go by the time roomie woke up.  I spent the early morning uploading photos from the last 6 months into Lightroom and going through–slowly (oh, so slowly) editing each one.  I was excited to go up to Boulder and just get the Hell out of our hot apartment (seriously–it was 94 degrees in my bedroom the other day–when the temp outside was in the 60s–why???).

After an iced tea and tamale pit stop, the drive up actually wasn’t too bad.  The construction mess is a little better than it has been (much less claustrophobic), and you can actually sort of envision what the expansion will look like when finished–though the fact that they were painting the hillside green is really disconcerting).  It seems like a very different highway than the one I drove last year.  Progress?  I’m not sure, but it will make a big difference when it’s done.

We decided to drive down to Pearl and then head over to the amazing Kim & Jake’s to pick up the cake.  We actually found parking close-by (which is a pretty big feat over there).  We were so thrilled with the cake.

photo 1

The cake is ginger vindaloo spice cake with thai curry caramel and black sesame seed icing.  It’s basically me tackling a giant gall bladder, while Jake and our kitties (including angel Cleo (with wings) celebrate.  It says, “Happy Life Day!”

We’re totally saving the fondant characters.  The kitties, especially Cleo, are precious.

The best part about the cake is that it’s totally gluten-free and vegan.  But it doesn’t remotely taste gluten-free or vegan.  Big on flavor–lovely & moist, fluffy cake–amazing smell.  We will get cakes from them for every single celebration from here on out.  So nice to know we can have a little treat and not have to worry about food annoyances.  We plan on sending at least half of it to roomie’s work on Monday–because we have so much left to eat.

It was a pretty nice morning, overall.  We started trekking down to the DDFL a bit later than we wanted.  The parking lot was packed (yay, adoptions).  They’re offering a $10 adoption special for adult cats (over a year old)–which is such a great deal.  We went through and checked out all the animals, marking down several that we thought would be potential friends.

Now, some people might be wondering why we decided to adopt a new cat so soon after Cleo’s passing.  When Cleo passed, there was absolutely no question that I wanted to adopt a new cat.  Having lost animals before, I’m familiar with what it takes to get over an animal.  For me, no matter how much I grieve, there’s an overwhelming sadness that comes from losing that animal.  A huge hole.  A lot of it is related to caring for it and being around it.  For me, since I’m at home all day every day, mostly by myself, there was a real loneliness there.  Cleo would literally sit next to me all day.  She was my best buddy.  Though Fogg took her place next to me this past week, it wasn’t the same.  I knew no amount of time would really make that better.  I needed something new to love and bring back.  I needed to fill the hole.

My roomie wasn’t completely convinced.  The last few months with Cleo had been pretty awful.  We were both at the end of our emotional ropes when she finally passed.  He was also worried about the impact on the other cats–who were full-on grieving.  After many talks, we decided we’d wait a few days and go to a shelter to see if we found a match.

We didn’t take this lightly, but I knew it was the right thing.  The two surviving cats we had were exhibiting behavior problems.  Rilly, our kitten, is pretty high strung and slightly psychotic.  Without any grieving involved.  When Cleo passed, he started going from room to room–looking for her and crying.  He also kept checking in on me–all wide-eyed.  Later in the week, he started getting a little destructive.  Fogg became glued to me.  My bedroom had always been Cleo’s territory, so Fogg generally kept her distance.  With Cleo gone, Fogg decided to hang out with me–probably because she knew I was upset.  And she felt sad and wanted attention.  She’s our love bug.  Fogg had been very neurotic before Rilly and had fought a lot with Cleo.  His joining our family really changed the dynamic and mellowed her out.  With Cleo gone, they lacked an anchor–a grumpy, dominant force that would keep them both in check.  At the same time, Cleo was always in the thick of it and would play from time to time–or at least look on in wide-eyed fascination.  So, for me, it was clear we needed a calming third to balance out the energy.

We decided to get a younger girl kitty–no more than two years old.  We would consider slightly older if we had to, but we didn’t think Rilly would be very happy if we brought a boy cat.  He’s a bit of a boundary tester and likes to playfully swat.  We didn’t know if a boy cat would really tolerate that, and we didn’t want any dominance wars.  Having gone through the Cleo-Fogg war, I knew what to avoid and what to do if they did decide to be grumbly.  We were looking for a cat that had a pretty calm energy and was pretty playful.  We felt like the calm would keep both of our other cats centered and the playful aspect would help Rilly burn off energy and assist with introductions.

The DDFL had one more room near the dog area that we could visit–which would allow us to actually go in and hang out with the cats.  There were four in there–a beautiful white angora with 1 green eye and 1 blue eye; a gray and black tabby; a black and white; and an orange and white angora tabby with a distinctive lion’s cut.  All of the animals in this kennel were older–except the lion.  I sat down between the white angora and the lion man.  The angora was nice, but sort of blase and lacking personality.  She didn’t want to play.  Sleep was her thing, and I was not going to distract her from that.  The lion dude immediately started rubbing up on me.  He had a lot of cuts and a torn ear.  He had a scrape on his nose and you could feel scabs when you petted him.  It was obvious he had a story.  I pretty much fell in love.  He had a gentle, good-natured vibe.  We played with him and he talked to us.  The black and white cat–a huge ball of happiness–was sweet too.  At some point the gray tabby attacked our lion friend (I think she was jealous of all the attention he was getting), and he was really chill about it.  It did seem like maybe he’d been attacked a lot in the past and had some emotional trauma related to it.

Both my roomie and I had really bonded with this fella.  He was only two years old, but he was much bigger than our Rilly–with a giant head.  We weren’t sure it’d be a match, considering he obviously had been in fights before and Rilly might victimize him or be really aggressive.  Since he was male, we had serious reservations.  We left the kennel to see the adoption counselor, and our lion dude looked at us so sad.  I told my roomie to write his name on the back–that we’d have him as an option in case the others fell through.

We met with a couple of the counselors and they brought in a couple cats and discussed the others we had chosen.  Most had behavioral problems that wouldn’t fly or they just didn’t fit our personality requirements.  They brought in one we hadn’t seen, who’d been in surgery, and while it was a lovely cat, it shook uncontrollably and would probably be terrified of Rilly.  We kept coming back to the lion man.  We asked for more info on him.

He was found by someone who brought him to the shelter.  He’d been there since the 29th, and nothing was really known about his past.  But he had been in really rough shape, with tons of nasty scrapes and abscesses.  He’d been on all kinds of meds, but was mostly healed up now and was just put into the adoption area yesterday.  The female counselor said he was one of her favorites, and that he seemed to really get along with people and animals alike.  He had been neutered and tested negative for all the yuckies.

My experience has been that animals choose you.  You can have ideas in your head about what’s ideal and what works best.  But, in reality, you find your tribe.  With Cleo, it was how she wouldn’t let go.  With Fogg, it was how she stared me down.  I didn’t need to see anyone else.  For Rilly, he was the last kitten standing and his unique personality was a perfect match for my roommate.

They know when they see home, and I think he knew we’d pick him.

After all of that, we did.  We initially decided on Neruda (Rudy for short) as a name–following our tradition of naming cats after favorite characters and authors.  But we both kept calling him little lion man.  And that prompted us to name him Mumford.  Neruda will be his third name.  🙂

So far, he’s proving to be such a good little friend.  He’s a purring machine.  The other cats don’t really know what to do with him, but we’ve only had one hiss.  We have him in a large dog crate in my room for the next couple of days.  We’ll take him out often and then do little introductions, starting with food and blanket swaps. We’re trying to get his scent in various places to–so we do supervised walks through the bigger part of the apartment.  He has a slight cold, so we want to keep him isolated a little bit for that reason too.  It’s hard to isolate with Rilly–who can pretty much get into anything–but, so far, this is working..  It allows him to be near me and be visited by the other cats.  But I’m pretty confident they’ll take to him.  Fogg is a bit standoff-ish, but I think that’s because she’s wondering if he’ll stay and take all her attention away.  I have a feeling they’ll be best friends.  As for Rilly, he is totally fascinated, but also terrified that he’ll attack him.  So far, he’s mostly just talked to them and wanted to say hi.

Here’s our sweet boy.  He’s a gem.

photo 2

Yep. Totally in love.

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