I’m a few days late in posting this, but on Monday, our darling Genevieve turned 10.
Well, we think she turned 10. Like the others, she was a rescue kitty. But unlike her siblings, we didn’t adopt her when she was a kitten. The shelter guessed that she was about 2 when we took her home, so she might be 9 or she might be 13. Regardless, we are so very blessed to have spent the last 8 years with her.
Genevieve’s story goes like this: Shortly after Mr. Phish and I moved in together, I decided we needed another cat. We had Bella but she was in her aloof stage, so I wanted a lovey dovey kitty, who would sit on my lap and purr and love me up. I found a cat matching this description online and contacted the shelter. They emailed me back saying that the cat I had inquired about didn’t really get along well with other cats. But they had this other very sweet, gentle cat who didn’t show very well in the cages at Petsmart. Her name was Genevieve.
This is the picture they sent me. It still reduces me to tears. So I drove 30 minutes to the other side of Cleveland to see this cat. She was skin and bones and had terribly flaky skin. Her coat was greasy and ungroomed. She was sneezy and her eyes were boogery. She would not make eye contact and she did not purr or even meow at me. She was a hot mess. The absolute opposite of what I wanted in a cat.
But my heart said yes.
So I sat down on the floor in the Petsmart adoption room and I started to talk to her. I told her about Bella and Mr. Phish and how we had just moved to Cleveland. I told her about my Ph.D. program and the kids I was going to be teaching. And very slowly, she came out of the cage and climbed onto my leg and she rested her little head on my knee. And I knew she was supposed to be ours.
Once we got her home, she improved almost immediately. We got her on meds to clear up the cold and she started to warm up to all of us. She put on some weight and then some more and then some more, before we realized that she was not a free choice feeder. It took us kind of a long time to notice that she was looking pretty wide.
The shelter lady had told me that Genevieve was found near a dump. She wandered up to a stranger at a gas station and they were kind enough to take her to the shelter. For the first few years, her survival instincts were very strong. She ate as much as she could, whenever she could, as though she knew it might be awhile before her next meal. She stole food off of the counter and hid it away.
Once when a full bag of bagels vanished, I blamed Mr. Phish for scarfing them down. He vehemently denied the accusations. Two weeks later, I moved the bed away from the wall in the guest room and found the bagels stashed. She had chewed through the plastic and eaten nearly two full bagels. Her fondness for baked goods persists to this day and, if given the opportunity, she will take the loaf of bread right out of the grocery bag and down to the basement. Old habits die hard, I guess.
She has always been a gentle, loving cat, but she truly blossomed when we brought home Mooster. I’m nearly certain Genevieve was a mama at some point, because she took one look at that boy and claimed him as her own.
They are inseparable–they play together, eat together, sleep together, watch birds together. She still cleans his face every night, and he still snuggles into her belly when it is time for bed. Though he is certainly full grown at this point, and well past his kitten prime, she still cleans his face every night. And he still refuses to sleep anywhere but next to her.
As she has gotten older, Genevieve has become more of a lover. Maybe she was so badly abused and neglected in those first years of her life that it just took her six or seven years to really trust us. But she has become that lap kitty that I always wanted, the lover girl who greets me at the door with a scratchy meow and a head bump. She has a funny meow, quiet and raspy, and when she knows she is being bad, she squawks at you. She never hisses or growls or uses her claws to hurt. If you dare sleep past her breakfast time, she will sit on the pillow and tap, tap, tap your face until you wake up. I’ve loved many cats in my life, but she is special. She is a once-in-a-lifetime cat.
She has not been an easy cat. She used to have seizures, and she has some lingering neurological issues that affect her balance and stability. She still has flaky skin, so we shave her regularly to help with the grooming. But there is not another cat in the world that I would trade her for. She is a furry angel, wise and calm and gentle. Because of her health issues and her shady past, we have no idea what kind of time we might have with her. So we are grateful for each day, each minute of lap time, each head bump.
We saved her from that cage, but she has repaid the debt a thousand times over with her love and patience and companionship. I am so grateful for the last 8 years. I hope we get 10 more. Happy birthday tinky bear!