used to be afraid of cats. It's hard to believe now, but I
remember being too afraid to even move when, in college, my suitemate's
cat walked into my room.
Not too many years later, I was visiting some friends who had just
gotten a kitten. (Julia Ecklar and her roommates, more at nostalgia) The kitten slept with
me. Come to think of it, I couldn't move then, either, but that
was because I didn't want to wake the kitten. Julia
pronounced me a cat person, which I thought was ridiculous when I'd
never had a cat. But, golly, she was right.
Fast forward a few years to 1985. I ran both a Star Trek club and
Who club and we had "meetings" (AKA "parties") at my apartment once or
twice a month. My First Officer, Janine, and I decided to rent a
house together. While our clubs, also fans of Dark Shadows,
helped me move in, we got to referring to my old apartment as "The Old
House" and the new house as "Collinwood."
My new roommate declared that "a house needs a cat." Recalling my
experience with Julia's kitten, I agreed, especially since my roommate
was an experienced cat owner. One of our members had kittens to
find homes for, and we agreed to take a kitten, sight unseen. I
think we had him named even before we saw him. A black cat
"haunting" Collinwood, had to be named Willie, after the Dark Shadow's
version of Dracula's Renfield. I didn't learn until much later
that my roommate, an English teacher, was also thinking in terms of
naming him after William Shakespeare.
Totally against all the advice I've read since then about introducing a
kitten to a new home, our friend brought him to us at a meeting.
Drove a considerable distance, with him not in a carrier, but climbing
her. Plopped him into a new house full of noisy people. He
should have been traumatized when he climbed the leg of our
Videomaster, Bob. Bob was wearing shorts. Things went
well as Willie climbed his sock, but when the sock ended and the bottom
of the shorts were not in sight, of course Willie put his tiny kitten
claws into bare skin. Bob reacted instinctively and kicked out
his leg and poor Willie flew across the room, then came bouncing back
to Bob for another ride. The picture of him to the right is from
that day of arrival, and he doesn't look too traumatized.
Thereafter we had a running joke about cat-tossing as a sport.
Eventually, I got
rid of the roommate and kept the cat, Willie. Good choice.
I thought Willie was the greatest cat on Earth and when he showed signs
of stress from missing my roommate, I got a new kitten from the animal
shelter. I got Julia for Willie, knowing no other cat could
capture my heart like Willie, but I was wrong. I adored her, too.
The folks at the animal shelter had been so nice. Like everyone
else, as I've since learned, I was tempted by the youngest kittens, but
the shelter folks kept pushing Julia, the oldest kitten there, telling
me how affectionate she was. I was sold, and I'm so glad I was.
So grateful was I for the help the shelter had given me, I started
volunteering at the shelter. I became an Adoption Counsular
myself, although I did my share of cage cleaning, too. Mostly, I
did paperwork, something there's a lot of in adoptions, I'm good at,
and generally most people don't want to do. I was coming in every
Saturday, the busiest adoption day.
In April 1989, I had a meeting with the Volunteer Coordinator.
She was bottle feeding an orphaned kitten, and happened to mention she
was going away for the weekend and needed to find someone to care for
him while she was gone. Oh, twist my arm!
Not only did she not get the kitten, Butterscotch, back after the
weekend, I offered to take in other shelter orphans, and I added two
other litters of kittens before Butterscotch was old enough to be
adopted out. The first litter were all black and white and I
named them Chocolate Chip, Fudge Swirl, and Rocky Road.