Tan the Golden Boy

As I write this I’m exhausted from being woken up at 4am by him the last two nights. I have had an anxious knot, nay, anchor in my stomach for two straight days. Yes, we adopted a cat.

We went to the shelter and met with a cat last weekend named Ginger Grant. It was like a bad first date. She spent most of the half an hour or so we were with her hiding under the bench and looking at the door, terrified. So, when we went again on Thursday, after a long day of work and kind of on an impulse, I knew what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to leave with a nice cat. Allow me to explain.

Al was the one who pointed him out. He was in a room with about seven or eight other cats of a similar age (10 months). Most were asleep or hiding. Will, who I thought looked sweet, out-and-out mauled the handler who was trying to collect him for a meeting. Molly was fast asleep but was a pretty dark grey tabby colour. I liked her. Tanner, or Tan as we now call him, was lying on the floor licking another cat’s fur, like a weirdo. He gave the handler a friendly chirp as Will was being removed for quarantining. He was adventurous, but also seemed chilled. He seemed happy. My eyes went right past him.
While we were in the meeting room talking to the cat guru, John, he told us that Tanner basically seemed like the friendliest, easiest, most-problem free and probably best cat for us. I asked about Molly. “She has behavioural problems - she doesn’t like to be touched and jumps out of your arms if you try to carry her”. So she’s sensitive, I thought. I asked about another cat, Hansel, who seemed a lot like Tanner. “So his behavioural problems are similar, but probably worse than Molly’s. The handlers have had trouble with him”. He loses points for being a boy, but OK, I like an introvert.

We decided to meet with Tanner and go from there. When he came over to me I made the noise people make when their eyes become love hearts in anime. He made us smile, he made us laugh. He played with any toy we brought out. Just as I started to say “maybe he’s a little too playf-” he came over to me and nuzzled into my legs, letting me rub his whole belly. And let me tell you, his fur is like clouds. I had the best time. Al was in love. I wondered about Molly, who we never met, but I couldn’t put up a fight. How could we say no to this cat?
And that was the problem. Ever since coming home, he’s been so good. He’s our Golden Boy. Tan the Good Boy. He’s played with us, snuggled with us. He’s set not one paw wrong, and slept the whole night with us both nights. He’s nothing but a golden-furred bundle of joy. And I’ve felt sick the whole time. I timidly voiced my concerns to Al in the car. “He doesn’t need me. He’s better than me. He’s so easy. Where are his problems? I need to fix something. I need a moody girl.”

Today we took him to the vet. I have no other vet visits to compare it to, but it seemed more than a little odd to me. The technician kept putting Cheese Whiz on his nose. They gave him a big shot in his leg. On the ride home he was very quiet. When we got him home, he avoided being touched and hid under the couch for half an hour. He moved from under the couch to under the table, and there he remains. I feel at peace. I went and got him his favourite treat and fed him one. He’s upset, probably in a little pain. I know what to do. Finally, my knot, my anchor, my solid concrete stomach melted away and I felt a sense of ownership, of agency. Even good cats have bad days, and I can be there for that. I know he’s our cat, and I knew that when we met, but it took me until now to accept it. Sometimes it’s easier to accept what you think you deserve. Sometimes you just need to wake up and realise that what you need is staring you right in the face, stretched out on your lap, waiting for its belly to be kissed.