Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cat Tales

Most of the fathers I've known are pretty tough cookies when it comes to buying gifts. They don't have a long list of wants, and the usual ties/coffee mugs/tools are just so much clutter for many dads. 

The father in my life right now is Frank's father, also Frank Young. He's a really fine man and a great guy, and he's been so very good to me over the last few months. I've usually been able to find good presents for him in the past, and I wanted something special for him for Father's Day. I was chatting with my mother-in-law, Melinda, and she came up with a great idea. 

They'd been thinking about getting a second cat for awhile. Melinda and Frank are both cat people. Their cat, Monty, is a pedigreed Siamese. He acts -- and is treated -- like the lord of the manor. I've said several times my ambition in life is to be reincarnated as one of Frank's cats. 

Now, Frank is about the biggest Dean Martin fan on earth, so Melinda came up with a brilliant idea: "We'd" get a tuxedo kitten for Frank, and we'd call him Dino. She was the brains behind this idea. The execution was now up to me. 

Well, finding Dino was quite an adventure. We call him the 400 mile cat, because that's about how far I drove in my quest for him. I searched a couple on-line databases for tuxedo kittens and the cats I found ran the gamut of adoptability. 

Melinda and I figured that this would be a good time of year to find a kitten. Well, yes and no. The shelters and rescues I first contacted were so strict in their adoption policies that getting a Top Secret clearance would have been easier than adopting one of their cats. And I know what I'm talking about because I've observed the Top Secret clearance application process. 

One woman wanted to do a home visit which would have involved a 120 mile round-trip drive for her. And the cat is question -- while a tuxedo -- was over a year old, and has a rare heart murmur. Adopting him involved agreeing to take him to Charleston annually to have an ultrasound so some vet could study his condition. Um, no thanks. Why doesn't the vet adopt him, or at least help place him somewhere near Charleston?

One rescue had picked out "my kitten" before I visited them, and already had plans for his cage as soon as they could get me out the door. Again, their idea of a kitten and mine were a bit different, since this cat was clearly fully-grown and was so shy even the foster dad couldn't hold him.

Finally, I found a listing in a County shelter a mere 40 miles from me. They're open from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm only, so there was no way to contact them by phone. I drove to the shelter and, guess what? He wasn't there. Oh, he was still available, but they were fostering him an additional 50 miles farther away. Nevertheless, he still sounded promising, so a couple days later I set out again to see him. By now it was the Friday before Father's Day and time was running out. This kitten was the last chance I had. 

Luckily he turned out to be Dino. He was, oddly, being fostered at a dog kennel. He was racing around like a mad thing every time a dog barked, but who could blame him. And clearly he had no fear of the dogs, so I thought he'd stand up to Monty. So, I delivered him and he is just what Melinda and Frank wanted. He's super cute, about 8 weeks old, and a bundle of kitten energy. He's got great tuxedo markings, and the tip of his long tail is white. As I expected, he shows no fear around Monty, and he's already making himself at home.
Of course, I'm on Monty's list forever for bringing this interloper into his domain. And Monty WILL have his revenge. Turns out Melinda and Frank are going away for a week in July and guess where Monty and Dino will be staying . . . I figure it will be like Vacation Bible School. We'll do crafts -- building birdhouses springs to mind -- make s'mores and sing around the campfire. Or maybe we'll just sit and watch the birds outside, run around the house like lunatics and nap a good deal.

Fred, as you can imagine, is not amused.

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