Today is a very special edition of Mondays With Merlin. Two years ago, I was an ASPCA spokescat for Senior Pet Month and this year, I’m delighted to introduce our new Cat Wisdom 101 feline muse, Clyde. He arrived on Saturday evening and we’re sharing about his first 24 hours at our home.
Clyde is none other than the cat Layla fell for a month ago at our friend’s blog Animal Shelter Volunteer.
Clyde was adopted with his sibling at PAWS Pet Animal Welfare Society (one of our favorite shelters) as kitten and enjoyed a good life until two years ago. His fursib died, he started having early symptoms of CKD and his elderly mom was in decline. Fast forward to two months ago when his mom moved to an assisted living facility and sadly she couldn’t bring him there.
The death or health issues of elderly pet owners is a common reason for shelter surrenders. Family members are often unable to re-home the cat and a no-kill shelter is the next best option. Thankfully PAWS welcomed Clyde back. After the vet diagnosed CKD and suggested a prescription diet, Clyde could not be in a cage-free room but caged. The odds of a black cat turning 17 in January with CKD getting adopted were slim to none. Layla was too busy (when is she not?) to consider adopting him but shared an adoption PSA on social media.
There were no takers. The thought of Clyde, the dear older gentleman living caged for the rest of his life in a windowless room, gnawed at Layla and she called the shelter. Ellen, the lovely adoption coordinator gave more details about his medical records and his need for sub-q fluids twice weekly. Oh boy, we know that scenario only too well. I went from once weekly to eventually twice daily over 5 years of CKD. It’s a serious commitment. Layla and my dad bounced the idea and agreed to go for it but the shelter wanted an all clear from the vet to rule out any URI.
Then everything life as we know it piled up and another week went by. The presidential election happened, the country fell into a tailspin of anger and gloom and Layla wondered if she had too much on her plate (don’t we all?). It’s far too easy not to take action and not rock the boat.
On Saturday, my dad says to my mom, “Are we doing this or not? We don’t have to take Clyde but we won’t know for sure until we see him in person.” And so, a few minutes later they grabbed a carrier and headed to PAWS in Norwalk, Connecticut. Unlike the detailed prep setting up a safe room for our Radish in June, 2015 Layla did nothing this time. We have every possible item twenty cats could want or need. She didn’t want to overthink it or jinx it. Being a mellow older cat, she thought he’d like to stay up with her on the cozy third floor. Frankly, she was jittery about even fostering a cat. It’s only been six months since I exited to the great beyond. We communicated and I gave her the Muse Green Light. Go for it if it feels right.
Foster Cat Clyde’s First 24 hours Outside A Shelter.
It was not love at first sight but more like…
Lady…what took you so long?
Cats, by the way know way more than we ever let on. Kevin and Tracey our shelter volunteer friends turned up and they showed Layla some other cats including a black mini-panther named Bunny who had been at the shelter for five years! Good thing it was past closing time at the shelter and no time for extra paperwork or the folks would have taken Bunny too. Oh boy. There is no cure for crazy cat lovers. Bunny is bonded with Mindy, another black beauty. Wouldn’t it be grand if someone adopted the pair? Miracles do happen and Christmas is coming. I’m keeping my paws crossed. They are both seniors but half the age of Clyde so spring chickens in my book.Check out Mindy and her beau, the soulful BUNNY
Ellen was about to get Clyde into the carrier and he resisted. Instead another cat, Max, a spirited tabby, age 15 from the same room bounded into the carrier. He’s on heart meds and prescription food and needs to be caged. Cat with different dietary needs can’t be housed in a communal cage-free space. Max was so eager to leave he slipped out the door into the corridor. What a character! My dad is smitten with him and wanted to foster him too. I say, one cat at a time.
Since older cats are harder to adopt out, PAWS has an amazing new Pension Plan for Senior Cats (12 and up). Talk about a win win! Senior cats are the best kept secret. We are seasoned and mellow (usually) and very appreciative being loved again after shelter life. Cats are living longer than ever, many into their 20s like me! Anyway, isn’t 16 the new 6?
If anyone is iffy about any plan, there is always fostering. Every shelter has their own program and the PAWS shelter program is generous and the best solution for Clyde. A forever foster I’d call it.
You never know what a shelter cat is really like until they are outside the shelter environment. Some hate car rides, others don’t mind. Clyde meowed for the first time but in a gentlemanly and not annoying way. Layla carried him straight up to the third floor not expecting to see any cats but, Odin who can sniff out an intruder from miles away, takes one look at the carrier and knew it was Clyde. He sniffed the air and turned away.
The shelter said Clyde is a litter kicker and prefers a covered litter box and gave them his. It looked really small but at least it was familiar. None of us have ever liked a covered box and Clyde has the option to use to go topless or not.
Clyde settled in almost instantly and he smelled around detecting my presence. Sometimes it can be threatening to introduce to new cat to a home of a deceased cat. Layla wrote a useful article with tips about introducing shelter cats to a new home. It turns out Clyde is quite the night owl like Layla and they stayed up late snug and purring in bed.
Some time early in the morning Clyde escaped from the third floor and went to hide in Layla’s office and met the other cats without incident. By evening Clyde had settled in and watched TV all evening on the couch beside Layla, on top of a heating pad.
This beats a cage any day.
Domino loved making biscuits on top of dad as per usual. Odin, always the climber, perched high shelf aerie and Nou Nou made friendly overtures to Clyde. Layla brought in a water fountain into the living room and Clyde went nuts for it drinking every 20 minutes. A bit worrisome but kidney cats do drink a lot. He carefully observed the scene and the inter-cat dynamics. Naturally there were cat conversations the human weren’t privy too but no Introductions aren’t supposed to be this easy. I’d say it was as if I’d switched bodies with Clyde, it was that comfortable. I
After the news, Layla carried me upstairs for Clyde’s first day on the job as a lap cat muse and I’ll give him, full marks for excellence. It turns out Clyde is quite the night owl like Layla and they stayed up late snug and purring in bed. I
Layla likes writing in bed on the third floor and Clyde was very helpful with editing and research. A feline muse doesn’t have to be paws-on but it helps. Layla missed having a lap cat and undercover sleeping companion. It’s too soon to say what others skills, interests or stories Clyde has to offer but I’ll be coaching him best I can. As the oldest cat in the household, he has assumed the mantle of patriarch and my guess is he’ll be friendly to the cats but prefer human companionship.
And Clyde makes his (very brief) video debut with purring. I must say he does have the black velvet magic about him.
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