Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Second Chances

Anna became a part of our family on November 29th, 2004; we had been a one-cat home since May 16th, when our dear Persian Asia left us after a lengthy struggle with an insidious injection-site fibrosarcoma that had so engaged her spine that removal would have paralyzed her. We still had Tisha, the cobbie-bodied blue Persian that had come home with us on the same day as Asia back in 1989. They weren't sisters by birth, but they both joined us when they were about three months old, and they became fast friends who must have thought of one another as sisters. They were virtually inseparable; the few times that they had to be apart, when one had to stay overnight at Dr. Lane's, the other was disconsolate. So when Asia passed on, Tisha was lonely; she would calll mournfully at night, waiting for the sister who couldn't come to stand beside her and wash her and sleep next to her on the sofa that had long ago become theirs.

We were reluctant to get another cat at first, for fear that Tisha would resent the presence of a newcomer in our home. But I found myself looking at young kittens and wondering if Tisha might accept another cat; she has never been an aggressive cat, though. Then, on a whim, I stopped at a pet store that had a "Siberian cats for sale" sign posted. There were actually four ragdolls--two male, two female--and one lone Siberian, a small mackerel tabby that took to me right away; she loved to be held, and I probably stayed there an hour or so playing with her.

And then I didn't get her. A week or so later, I stopped by again and she was gone; the clerk working that day had no idea who had bought her, or when.

Over a month passed, and I found myself driving down Canton Road again, just north of Dr. No's (my comic shop), when I decided for no apparent reason to stop by the pet store once again. And there, in a cage near the door, was that same delicately-featured mackerel tabby, still eager to be held. It turned out that the woman who had bought her had to move into a no-pets apartment, and she had returned the cat a week or so prior. Every now and then, fate makes its intentions clear--and this kitten was fated to come home with us.

Susan named her Anna--she had picked out the name the day we first saw her. We met at the house so that we could both bring her into her new home for the first time; Tisha never seemed particularly upset with her, although, she took a little while to adjust her sixteen-year-old habits to a nine-month-old's energetic exuberance. For the first night or two, Anna imitated Tisha--but by the end of the first week, we noticed that Tisha had begun to imitate Anna as well, playing with toys she had long since discarding, cajoling me into playing the "door game" with her (I slide a pencil or a string or some object under a half-open doorway, drawing it back and forth as Tisha pounces on it--it's a simple game, but it's one she used to love when she was young, and now she and Anna have both taken to it).

Anna's a remarkable cat--she loves to be around people, and keeps us constant company whenever one or both of us are at home. Having her around has helped us to balance the sense of loss at Asia's death; Anna can't replace Asia, of course, and we'd never want her to do so, but she brings her own joys.

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