A few weeks back, I promised to tell you all the tale of Pip the Kitten. Well, what better way to start the week off than to talk about a cute, sweet, feisty, loving kitten? There is a bit of sadness to get to first though.

Since October 2016, we’d only had one cat-child, our sweet orange boy Julius. We lost his sister in September of that year to old age, and his brother a month to the day after her to illness. Though we debated getting Julius a new sibling, it never really came to fruition. Late last year, we took in our neighbor’s cat, who had decided she didn’t want to take part in their move to a new home. She stayed in what we call our annex, which is the converted attached garage, and after getting health clearance, we started trying to introduce her and Julius.

It did not go well.

After a few weeks of trying—and of discovering I’m horribly allergic to long-haired cats—we were left with no choice but to find a new home for the sweet cat, whom we named Floof. I can’t say thanks enough to the people at the Pulaski County Humane Society for helping that happen. They were great and put us in touch with a lady who rescues Maine coons. Floof found the perfect home, and we moved on, somewhat sad but knowing we’d made the best choice for all felines concerned.

We decided then that Julius was destined to be an only child for however long he was with us. And he was happy with that decision—after all, it got him all the attention of his two humans.

Mama’s sweet potato, Julius Pepperjack.

In early June, he started having problems related to his heart condition. He stopped responding to his Salix (which is the cat version of Lasix, a fluid pill), and his health spiraled downward quickly. Given that his specialist told us when he was first diagnosed that we might have him for a year, but probably six months, and that we actually had him over two years after that diagnosis, we felt incredibly blessed to have had him for so long—and that he’d had a good quality of life for all but the last two weeks.

Saying goodbye to him was one of the hardest things we’ve had to do. He was such a special, loving boy. It was the first time since I was fourteen or fifteen that I’d not had a cat. It was also the first time since hubby and I married that we didn’t have a cat, and we’ve been married twenty-one years this November.

Let me tell you, a house without a cat… it’s an empty house, no matter how much love there is between the humans.

I think we made it a week, maybe two, before I had to get some kitten love. So we took ourselves off to the pet store to give some attention to their adoptees. We had no intention of adopting so soon, and we simply enjoyed being able to trade scritches for purrs.

Squiddles and Simcha about a year before we lost them. Squiddles on the left, Sim on the right.

See, in addition to Julius being sick, our sweet girl cat Squiddles, whom we lost in September 2016, had been frail for some time. She was eighteen when she died, and she had bad kidneys and a bad thyroid. Then, literally as soon as she was gone, we were battling hard to save Simcha, our baby boy, with no success. So by the time we lost Julius, we’d had the care of sick cats for a total of eight years. Compared to caring for sick humans, that burden is nothing – but it is also something. Factor in losing my father-in-law, my own health issues, a few other things… we needed a break. I wanted to travel some, to be able to go out and spend the night somewhere if we chose.

I also knew that when the time was right, our cats would send us someone. Our oldest cat-child, Boogey, sent us Julius. Boogey was my cat when hubby and I married, and she became our cat. She was fifteen when she passed, and then a couple of years later, she sent us the orange sweet potato. We know she sent him because he had some really, really quirky personality traits that he shared with her. Weird things that made no sense, but yet there they were. After we lost Calvin, who was only a few months younger than Squiddles but passed much too soon when he was only nine, he sent us Simcha. Again, Sim had quirky personality traits that just made no sense unless you knew Calvin.

Squiddles hasn’t sent us anyone yet, but while she was here, she let me know if something was going on with Julius’s health. She fretted over him, you see, and every time she’d start fretting, we’d take her in to the vet for a checkup. She might be fine, but then within a couple of days, Julius would have to go in for this or that. They weren’t even that close, but she was his guardian angel. The last few weeks of her life, she fretted so much… we took her in, she was fine, Julius was fine… And then her kidney numbers went haywire practically overnight, and we had to let her go. We didn’t figure out until after she was gone that she’d been fretting so much that last time not for Julius, but for Simcha.

The funny thing about Squiddles, though, and her not sending us anyone, is that for the last few months of Julius’s life, every time he would have an episode, I’d dream about her the night before or a couple of nights prior. The last time I saw her in my dreams, a few nights after we lost him, I was standing on the back porch at my grandparents’ house. I was trying to get the cats inside, and instead of going in, she walked straight past me, down the walk, across the driveway, and up to my mom, who was standing on the hill in what used to be our driveway next door. I “asked” Squiddles where she was going, and her answer was simple. “Home.” Since Mom has been gone since 1995… Well, I don’t think I’ll be seeing Squiddles again. Her work here is done.

I’m not a religious person. But let me tell you, that cat… that dream… Something else is out there. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s something.

Anyhow. After Julius, we took some downtime. We weren’t looking for a cat, though we were visiting the pet store and other places with adoptable cats—ostensibly so we could just have some kitten time. And then, about three weeks in, I started getting the weirdest, most compelling pull. I kept thinking about Boogey. It wasn’t so much that

Sweet Boogey. From the days before digital cameras.

I was dreaming about her exactly but the idea of her. The notion of her. I kept getting the feeling that Boogey wanted us to start looking for a cat. To look for a little girl who needed us. Boogey, Boogey, Boogey. It was getting kind of annoying but in a sweet way, if that makes sense.

One Saturday morning in late July, we got up and headed out to do our errands and get out of the house. When hubby asked where I wanted to go, I hesitated, then said “the shelter.” I got “the look” and shrugged. I explained to him that I just had the strongest sense of Boogey that morning, that it was practically resonating in my head. That there was a little girl cat who needed us. Who wasn’t a tiny kitten, but was a little older. And I recognized how ridiculous the whole thing sounded. I’m glad now that I told him that before hand…

Since he’s in the habit of indulging me somewhat (yeah, I’m spoiled), we went. When we got there, they only had three cats in the entire shelter – THREE! In the height of kitten season? What??? At any rate, they were all three orange boys, beautiful, about eight or ten weeks old, and while they were adorable, no. We were getting ready to leave when the lady who’d shown us the kittens asked a woman standing at the desk “Didn’t you bring in a girl cat, older?” (I’d explained that we were looking for an older girl, not a younger kitten.)

Why yes, she had. Of course she had.

“Do you want to see it before you go?” the shelter volunteer asked us.

With a somewhat fatalistic shrug, we said sure. So we followed the shelter lady and the other woman out to her SUV, where she had to dig under the seat for the cat. They hadn’t even put her in a carrier or a box for safety.

As soon as I saw this kitten, my heart sank. Not because there was anything wrong with the kitten, but because—I kid you not—she looked so much like Boogey. I knew pretty much from that instant three things: that we’d be bringing her home, that we weren’t ready for another cat, and that it didn’t matter. She was ours.

There were dogs barking like crazy, and that kitten was scared to death. It’s a wonder she didn’t escape and run away, she was so scared. The woman handed her to me, and the shelter lady directed us to the storage room so we could close the door and have a minute to meet the kitten. She clung to us, trying to climb as high as she could get. All the while, she was giving these sweet little forlorn “mews.” I was in tears, and hubby was resigned.

So we filled out the paperwork, paid the fee, got her in the car, looked at each other, and said “Oh, boy.” We had

Pip the Kitten – first picture. In the car at the pet store, waiting while hubby gets supplies. Such a strong resemblance to Boogey.

to stop at the pet store to get kitten supplies, as we didn’t keep anything of Julius’s except a couple of beds and a few toys we weren’t ready to part with. While hubby was in the store, I took the first pictures of Pip as an official Haddix. She was so confused… it kills me to even think of it. She had no idea what in the world was going on, why she was there, why she’d been kicked out of her home… And though she didn’t know it, she’d landed in high cotton. But there’s no way to tell a scared four-month-old kitten that it’s going to  be okay other than to show her. So that’s what we did. What we continue to do.

Pip the Kitten is a Daddy’s girl. She’s about seven months old now, and she’s growing like a weed. We’re expecting that she’s going to be a big girl—probably in the neighborhood of twelve pounds at her healthy weight, if not more. She’s funny and she has been an absolute blessing, even though she’s something of a sleep disrupter.

Trying on her tactical suit beforehand in case she needed it after her spay. Her response: “You have killed me, humans. I am dead. I am not amused.” My response: hysterical, snort-filled laughter.

She had her spay surgery a couple of weeks ago. She seems to be doing well enough, though she did have to have an antibiotics shot. I say shot because there’s no taming this cat long enough to give her medicine. She’s sweet, loving, funny, smart… probably the smartest cat we’ve ever had. And she’s not about to put up with that “medication” nonsense. She loves to climb, to be up high, and she has so much energy! She’s sharp as a tack, demanding, stubborn—and she gives the BEST snuggles at five in the morning. Otherwise, don’t try to pet her too much, because she doesn’t have time for that nonsense. If you want her to stop doing something, all you  have to do is pet her—she stops and runs away. HA!

After her spay, 98% recovered. Long, tall girl.

One of these days, she might calm down long enough to let me trim her claws. I might even possibly, maybe, sorta-kinda be able to give her medicine. But I’m not holding my breath that it  will be anytime soon. She trusts us. She loves us. She ADORES her daddy-human. But nobody puts that baby in a corner (or tucked into a blanket as a purrito or put in a box to play or a towel so we can medicate her… you get the picture.)

Funny thing. I’ve not dreamed of Boogey since. Haven’t had that compulsion. And I doubt I will again until it’s time for Pip the Kitten, aka Princess Pippy, to get a sibling. We’re not quite ready to add to the family again, but we don’t want her to be a lonely only for long. I don’t worry about when that time will come though because I know our other cats will tell us. They’ll send us someone. I don’t doubt that in the least.