Lisa's Thoughts
How I became a crazy cat lady (part 1)

November 7, 2006

I used to be afraid of cats.  It's hard to believe now, but I remember being too afraid to even move when, in college, my suitemate's cat walked into my room. 

Not too many years later, I was visiting some friends who had just gotten a kitten.  (Julia Ecklar and her roommates, more at nostalgia) The kitten slept with me.  Come to think of it, I couldn't move then, either, but that was because I didn't want to wake the kitten.  Julia pronounced me a cat person, which I thought was ridiculous when I'd never had a cat.  But, golly, she was right.

Fast forward a few years to 1985.  I ran both a Star Trek club and a Dr. Who club and we had "meetings" (AKA "parties") at my apartment once or twice a month.  My First Officer, Janine, and I decided to rent a house together.  While our clubs, also fans of Dark Shadows, helped me move in, we got to referring to my old apartment as "The Old House" and the new house as "Collinwood." 

My new roommate declared that "a house needs a cat."  Recalling my experience with Julia's kitten, I agreed, especially since my roommate was an experienced cat owner.  One of our members had kittens to find homes for, and we agreed to take a kitten, sight unseen.  I think we had him named even before we saw him.  A black cat "haunting" Collinwood, had to be named Willie, after the Dark Shadow's version of Dracula's Renfield.  I didn't learn until much later that my roommate, an English teacher, was also thinking in terms of naming him after William Shakespeare.

Totally against all the advice I've read since then about introducing a kitten to a new home, our friend brought him to us at a meeting.  Drove a considerable distance, with him not in a carrier, but climbing her.  Plopped him into a new house full of noisy people.  He should have been traumatized when he climbed the leg of our Videomaster,  Bob.  Bob was wearing shorts.  Things went well as Willie climbed his sock, but when the sock ended and the bottom of the shorts were not in sight, of course Willie put his tiny kitten claws into bare skin.  Bob reacted instinctively and kicked out his leg and poor Willie flew across the room, then came bouncing back to Bob for another ride.  The picture of him to the right is from that day of arrival, and he doesn't look too traumatized.

Thereafter we had a running joke about cat-tossing as a sport.

 Eventually, I got rid of the roommate and kept the cat, Willie.  Good choice.  I thought Willie was the greatest cat on Earth and when he showed signs of stress from missing my roommate, I got a new kitten from the animal shelter.  I got Julia for Willie, knowing no other cat could capture my heart like Willie, but I was wrong.  I adored her, too.

The folks at the animal shelter had been so nice.  Like everyone else, as I've since learned, I was tempted by the youngest kittens, but the shelter folks kept pushing Julia, the oldest kitten there, telling me how affectionate she was.  I was sold, and I'm so glad I was.

So grateful was I for the help the shelter had given me, I started volunteering at the shelter.  I became an Adoption Counsular myself, although I did my share of cage cleaning, too.  Mostly, I did paperwork, something there's a lot of in adoptions, I'm good at, and generally most people don't want to do.  I was coming in every Saturday, the busiest adoption day.

In April 1989, I had a meeting with the Volunteer Coordinator.  She was bottle feeding an orphaned kitten, and happened to mention she was going away for the weekend and needed to find someone to care for him while she was gone.  Oh, twist my arm!

Not only did she not get the kitten, Butterscotch, back after the weekend, I offered to take in other shelter orphans, and I added two other litters of kittens before Butterscotch was old enough to be adopted out.  The first litter were all black and white and I named them Chocolate Chip, Fudge Swirl, and Rocky Road.