Saturday, May 29, 2004

Enter Tippy

Let me make something perfectly clear. I love Gato. Gato will always be my cat -- my beloved bad-ass psychopathic kitty friend. There is no replacement for the Gato-Cat, nor shall there ever be. But Gato is so very very far away, and a Robyn without a pet is like a day without sunshine.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce the addition of a new Washington-based feline companion, Tippy.

Tipster. Tipmonster. Tipperary. Her Supreme Tippness.

Tippy comes to us from the animal shelter where I've been volunteering for about a year. It is a no kill shelter, which is a good thing in that it gives a lot of nice animals a chance to find good homes. One of the drawbacks, is that unfortunately, some well-deserving critters wind up doing more time there than necessary. This is true for most older cats, cats with minor health problems, black cats (travesty!), and other cats who just aren't as cute, as young or as outgoing as some of the competition.

Tippy is such a cat. She was given up by her owner afer having lived in a comfortable home for five years. Despite being well-cared for at the shelter, she quite understandably didn't thrive in an environement where she was locked in a cage half the time and subjected to an unceasing cacophony of barking and mewing from her more outspoken neighbors. She became very withdrawn and shy, hating to leave the cage for fear of the other cats, and slowly gaining weight due to depression and inactivity. Although she actually is quite pretty, her greay, white and tan coloring is rather common at first glance, and so she was overlooked in favor of the sexier Siamese or Himayalan or altogether fancier breeds that are usually there. She was so shy, she required a covered litterbox because she was afraid to do her business in plain sight.
She remained at the shelter for two years.

I decided to adopt Tippy because I wanted a cat who wouldn't mind having therun of a quiet house for most of the day and who was old enough and mellow enough to be trusted not to tear the place apart out of boredom. I also discovered that if you were patient enough, she may be willing to uncurl herself from her bed and put her chin on your lap for a bit. So we bought her some playhouse to hide in if she needed them, and mentally prepared ourselves for bringing this special-needs case home in the hopes that in a few days, weeks, or months she'd come out of her shell.

It took about 20 minutes.

The sad thing is that sometimes you don't really know how a shelter kitty will behave until you actually get them home. In Tippy's case, we were prepared for her to immediately hid under the bed and not come out for days. In reality, as soon as she stepped outside her carrier, she immediately waled the length of the apartment, and decided that wherever this place was, it was a lot better than where she had been, and very soon was sitting in our laps, purring, chattering and generally behaving as though the apartment were hers to command.

We've discovered that she's actually very personable, and will jump in your lap as soon as you sit down. She's also playful, and will most likely lose a lot of her excess weight if she keeps up her activity. She is in many ways, the anti-Gato -- just as sweet as you could hope a cat to be. Not that crankiness, belligerance and independence can't be charming traits in a cat, it's just that it's nice to know that there is an alternative as well.

So we're very happy to have Tippy, and we think she's glad to have us as well. As long as I convince Gato that he hasn't in some way been sacked, all should be well.