By: Lauren Scharf
Never in a million years did I think I'd be suited for the honorable title of "Cat Mom." Sure, I've had a cat around for almost my entire life but I've always fancied myself more of a "Cat Sister" or "Cat Roommate" or the more generic "Cat Lady." That all changed this year when I got Gunther, but it didn't happen overnight. It took years of training and mental preparation before I was able to bask in the glow of Cat Motherhood.
I wanted a cat the second I moved out to Los Angeles, but it was a scary time - new city, strange roommates, nowhere to find good bagels - I was overwhelmed, so I put it off a year. One year became two, then 5, then 20, before I knew it, 52 cat-years (9 in human years for those keeping track) had flown by and I was still cat-less. There were a couple close calls of cat companionship here and there, but they'd all turn out to be false alarms. I didn't think it was possible for so many roommates to suddenly discover they were allergic AFTER they'd moved in with me! I learned to get by with cat-sitting, volunteering at shelters, and even living with a dog for a year, which was delightful in its own way, but still not "the dream." Finally in 2019 I decided, ready or not, it was time to get serious. Then Covid hit.
Say fur at home
The day I found out my office was shifting to working from home indefinitely, I started reaching out to shelters and rescues. Confined to my apartment, I figured this was the best time I'd get to get a kitten, plus I wanted to be my first cat's first human, but most places were only adopting out kittens in pairs and oooh that was a little too much, too soon. So I settled on fostering - just for now. Beach City Kitties, a rescue in Venice, was looking for fosters to 3 brothers - Ross, Chandler, and Gunther (I never did find out why there was no Joey).
Gunther was advertised as "sweet but shy" which, I was pretty sure meant he was a total recluse. Sure enough, as soon as he was unloaded in my living room, he sulked out of his carrier, shoulders peaking higher than his pointy ears, and swiftly made his way under my bed. After a few hours, I went to check and see if he was done social distancing yet. Answer: no. That is, until I reached carefully behind his ear and gave him a good scratch. The ear scratch became a shoulder rub, then a butt-pat, then he extended his paws out and shimmied up to me, rubbing against my arms. I was in, baby!
I HAVE TO LIVE WITH A BOY!
After that, he quickly made himself at home. He'd parkour his way around the apartment, scaling walls and leaping from shelves. Though he was no longer a kitten, he still had that BKE (big kitten energy), but with a very affectionate side, and man, can this boy cuddle! He'll cozy up to your lap and actually heave his body against your legs, rolling over for tummy rubs, and purring like a fancy Italian sports car. He was still only a foster, but it was impossible to ignore- he was a perfect match for me.
"Why don't you just adopt him?" my friends and roommates were asking, and I agreed, but something still gave me pause. Not the fact that he wasn't a kitten, but rather I still wasn't sure I was fit to take care of him. About a year prior, I'd said goodbye to my family pet Kiko when he died suddenly from a combination of kidney issues and blindness that were drastically escalated after he was needlessly put under for routine bloodwork. If anything like that were to happen to Gunther, how would I know, and how could I avoid another sudden heartbreak like that? This was when I first heard about PrettyLitter and how it could remove the mystery of Gunther's potential health problems as soon as they arise. No sooner had I bought my first bag of PrettyLitter that I got word from Beach City Kitties that someone else had adopted Gunther.
We were on a break!
At first, I thought I'd be ok, and that I could take it as a lesson learned, to not doubt myself or hesitate when the perfect kitty had fallen literally into my lap. That is, until the day came to pack up Gunther and give him back to the rescue. He cried and hissed at me as I put him back in his carrier, and I just started bawling. I was inconsolable that day. I worried not just that I wouldn't find another boy like Gunther, but also that Gunther wouldn't be as happy in his new home. I felt like I was abandoning him when he didn't do anything wrong.
A few days went by and, almost like a break-up, I'd started to entertain the thought of reaching out to fosters again. That's when Katelyn from Beach City Kitties messaged me again, worried that Gunther's adopters would fall through. They had been flaking on picking him up, and were slow to return her messages. She asked if I'd be able to take him back if needed and I nearly bounced off the walls, Gunther-style. "Of course!" I said, "just let me know if you hear back from them, but if not, he's totally welcome here!" The next day, after no word from the adopters, she asked if I would like to adopt him instead. Just when I'd gotten my crying down to a minimum, I discovered a whole bucket of happy tears on reserve for just such an occasion. Gunther was gone from my apartment all of 4 days. It was an emotional week!
He's my lobster
He left my apartment as Gunther and returned as my son. I am born again as a certified, pedigreed Cat Mom. I feed him, clean up after him, give him a hard time when he leaves his toys lying around, and I love him so much that if anyone ever gave him trouble on the cat playground, I would march down to that cat school and to have a talk with that cat principal SO FAST. (These cat places are hypothetical, of course. Gunther is an indoor cat.) Like most moms, I can't know what's going on with him all the time, so I'm especially glad I got on the PrettyLitter train. It gives me the peace of mind I was so worried I'd never have, and I'm looking forward to many, many long and healthy cat-years with my beautiful boy!