©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Traffic, traffic, traffic.
Judy needed time to think about it. Adding another cat to the mix should always be considered soberly and not in haste. As much as I wanted Judy to adopt King, I couldn't push her to do so. I told her to take some time and think about it. It ended up taking two weeks. During that time Judy asked me “what ifs” and I did my best to help her not feel pressured. Just before the end of June, on the anniversary of my sweet tuxedo kitty Stanley's passing, Judy said YES.
I made the reservation for King to get on the next transport north (as far as Connecticut) and let Maria know the good news. I decided to drive King from my home to New Hampshire so I could do the home visit and make sure King arrived safely. You can read about King's difficult trip and arrival to Connecticut HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina & King meet.
On Thursday, Sam and I took the day off to make the four hour trip to Concord, New Hampshire. The violent thunderstorms the day before had finally cleared and King had been here long enough to feel settled and eat normally. I knew it was not going to be easy on King to move him only five days after he arrived, but at least he didn't have to travel from Georgia to New Hampshire without any break. I also think that it was good for King to meet the kittens. It seemed to perk him up each time they entered his room. He'd stand the second he saw them, then walk over to them as best he could. Noses would touch, the kittens would run off to play. King would settle back down, but I swear he had a smile on his face.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina meets King and the two bond instantly.
I set up a carrier for King with a double layer of puppy housebreaking pads on top of a soft towel. King HATES to be in the car, which he proved by peeing BEFORE we even left the DRIVEWAY. Sadly, King can't stand up to pee while he's traveling so he pees in place. The poor cat soiled himself he was so scared.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello? Anyone in there?
I got King cleaned up and tried to soothe his nerves. I covered him with another clean housebreaking pad and he seemed to calm down. For the next four hours King remained motionless. The only sound he made was when I uncovered him every so often to check on him. He'd look at me and moan pitifully. I petted him and he did his best to enjoy it, but he was too frightened to relax.
As Sam drove, I kept saying to myself that I hoped this home wasn't from an episode of Hoarders, that Judy was as nice as she sounded, that it worked out well enough so that I could leave King there and not be worried about his future. I had to prepare myself to tell Judy to her face that I could not go through with the adoption. I had to be brave. If it didn't work out, I'd just be clear and take King home.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Wishing he was anywhere but inside a car…
We arrived a few minutes after 4PM. Judy's house is a cozy, mint green Cape Cod style house that was built around the turn of the last century. I took a deep breath and tried to steady my nerves. This was it; the moment we'd been praying for. I knocked on the door and waited a beat. A moment later the door opened and a very cheerful woman answered saying her name was Lynne and that she was Judy's sister. As she welcomed us into the house, Judy appeared, clearly happy and excited as she tried to get a look into the carrier to see King. Sam held up the carrier as Judy and Lynne both “squeed” with delight.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Judy gives King his first belly rub.
Judy brought us upstairs to King's temporary room. The second I looked around I realized this was going to work out. The room was small and had cheerful blue painted walls. There was carpeting, as Judy promised, but it wasn't ugly at all. It was quite nice. Judy had put out a new litter pan with the litter King is accustomed to using. There was a clean bowl with water, a new cat bed, a cat scratcher and another cat bed. There was a large futon in the room and one of those “papasan” chairs everyone has or knows someone who has one from Pier One. (My brother had one of those chairs when he first got married.)
I put King's crate down and opened the door. King came out cautiously and looked around at all of us. I"ll be dammed but that cat can MOVE! In a flash he was in the far corner behind the futon! I moved the futon away from the wall and sat on the floor near King. He was trying to make himself invisible by putting his head under an end table, but the rest of his body was comically sticking out. I petted him for a few minutes and we all discussed what to do. I asked Judy to sit with him and I got out of the way. I was passing ownership over to her and this was the first moment she'd get to touch her new cat.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yasmin, King's new sister, getting her brush on.
Judy cautiously touched King, then, as he relaxed a bit, she began to explore his head and back with her fingers. We were all talking to King and telling him he was a good boy. Judy's sister couldn't resist being away from King so she came over to join in the petting, sitting opposite her sister on the floor.
For a good hour we talked, petted King and got to know each other better. The more Lynne and Judy spoke, the more I liked them and liked their family. They were both clearly dedicated to providing the best care for their cats. They were lively and cheerful and had that sweet sisterly banter that made me homesick for the family I no longer have.
King managed to get away and hide in a pile of boxes that Judy was storing in the same room. It took some time but we got him out, then re-worked the location of the boxes so King couldn't do it again. I put King into a cardboard box turned on its side and placed a cat bed in the box. I put King on the bed and petted him for a few moments then Lynne sat with him and petted him. Lynne must have magic fingers. Before too long, King was falling asleep. Judy pretended to get miffed that her sister “hogged” time with King, but it was all in good fun. When Judy took a turn petting King, he was out cold.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It took 6 hours to get home due to accidents and road construction. We arrived at 1AM, but it was worth the long drive to make certain King was settled in his new home.
We decided it was time to make the final decision and it was clear Judy made it before we even got there. I knew this would be a good home for King-one full of love and one where he would get whatever he needed. If he couldn't manage the carpeted stairs, then Judy said she would carry him downstairs during the day and bring him upstairs at night. Hopefully Judy's cats would come to accept and hopefully be friendly with King. We discussed at length about letting it take the time it needed to take and not be on some deadline. Judy was going to try and that's all we could hope for. It's was up to the cats to see how they would get along. I knew King would want a friend and would accept the girls. We had to be patient and hope the girls would see what we all did-what a great cat King is and give him a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's been a long road for King, but well worth the journey.
I didn't have much of a farewell with King. I went to check on him before I left and he was sitting behind the futon, but not in the corner. I told him goodbye, but I'd kissed him and told him I loved him in the car, so I was ready to go. I didn't want to distress him by grabbing him and getting a photo of us together. Cameras seem to scare King so I didn't push it, though I was disappointed. Judy didn't want her photo taken so I teased her and said I'd do an “artist's interpretation” of the two of them together in lieu of a photo. She promised to stay in touch and let me know how King was doing.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This image is burned in my heart and how I will always think of King.
We said our goodbyes to Judy and Lynne and got in the car to head home. As Sam turned the car around, I saw a large lilac in the corner of the yard. It faced the street and stood as a sentinel guarding Judy's home. To me it was the last sign I needed—my Mother was telling me again that this was the right place. She loved lilacs. There must be a hundred photos of her standing near a lilac or holding them in her hands. I didn't question whether or not I did the right thing. It was clear that King was home. His long journey escaping a cruel life at a palette factory in Georgia was over. He would never be hungry or scared or without love ever again.