As recorded here, our beloved 17-year-old cat, Molly, died over the summer. All three of us were, and continue to be, deeply affected by her loss.
But we have also really missed having a cat around. And so, over Christmas Eve dinner, we discussed the possibility of adopting a new cat, and came to the conclusion that we were ready. We decided to visit the Humane Society shelter near us at our earliest opportunity, which turned out to be last Sunday.
I almost didn't make it. On Saturday, when I visited the HS site to confirm their hours, I found myself perusing the photographs of "adoptable" cats, and crying both because so many reminded me of Molly, and because the idea of bringing in a "replacement" filled me with grief and guilt. I have loved other cats, but Molly was an important part of Ben's childhood--we adopted her when they were both 2--and "shopping" for a new cat felt like a betrayal of Molly and an acknowledgment that Ben's childhood is really over.
We had a family meeting that night, during which we compiled a list of bottom-line requirements. I did not want either a calico or a longhaired cat, because Molly was both. Ben wanted a cat who was young enough to play with, and healthy enough so that we could count on it living a long life. Bill wanted a gregarious lap cat (Molly had been mistreated and was terrified of strangers; she was affectionate with us but always ready to leap under the couch at the smallest noise in our apartment hallway). We wondered if it would be possible to fulfill all of these criteria.
In the end, it was simple. We all fell in love with the second cat we were shown, a sleek 6-month-old tuxedo male who raced over to each of us, demanding to be petted.
He lives with us now. We named him Fred, for Fred Astaire, because he is so graceful and dapper in his little tux, and because he always cheers us up. He jumps on our laps when we sit down, and rolls over so we can rub his belly. He has a great purr. He likes our friends, too. He has some dining-etiquette deficits, but otherwise he is perfect, and we are crazy about him.
And when I come home at night and I hear him calling to me as I unlock the door, I still expect to see Molly on the other side.