I’m afraid that I’m cursed.
Well, perhaps ‘tragically flawed’ is a better description. Or even ‘lacking in character’, although that’s more of a stretch.
But I’m not sure what else to call a man who not only has a strong affinity for black clothing, but has an equally strong affinity for pets with yellow hair. This is obvious to anyone who looks closely enough (and it doesn’t require great closeness) at my black clothes.
Because yellow pets shed.
First there was Ike, a yellow labrador who loved nothing more than to be as close to me as possible as frequently as possible, and tended to shed heavily, usually when I was wearing black.
And in a true case of opposites attracting, yellow hair is nigh impossible to entirely remove from clothing.
After Ike died, there was a period of nearly a year where his hair still hung around, a reminder of him that I had mixed feelings about.
(Because there’s unfortunately only one way to find yellow pet hair in your scrambled eggs.)
Then came Akoya.
Akoya is the newest addition to our household – a yellow/orange tabby.
We weren’t planning on adopting a cat when we went to the adoption center at the mall. Really, we only intended to window shop, maybe have a few cuddles, judge a few personalities, etc.
Realistically, we were only kidding ourselves. We were less likely to walk out of there with a cat than we were to walk in with a shopping cart yelling, “Fill ‘er up!”
(We also convinced ourselves that our black cat Jinx was lonely. Honestly though, it’s hard to tell, since his normal emotive state is ‘grouchy’ with a touch of claws.)
First we spent some time with a yellow kitten. That was probably not the best place to start, as any resolve we had melted away at the first tiny little cuddle. After 15 minutes, we sadly handed him back and moved down the line.
I was looking to adopt an older cat anyway, since they frequently are harder to home. We next looked at Goldie, a long-haired yellow and white kitty who obviously loved her food. Picking her up was an exercise in commitment all on its own, as she easily weighed 18 pounds and seemed to flow into the contours of my body. She was also friendly, while still being independent enough to entertain herself when we set her down.
But then, we met Akoya.
I’d spotted Akoya when I looked at the adoption center’s website, and I kept coming back to her profile. There was something about the way she looked in her picture, scared and trying to press herself into a corner, that I just couldn’t put aside. She was hiding under her bed when we first looked in her kennel at the center, and the assistant who helped us had a difficult time coaxing her out.
She immediately took a liking to my roommate, a cat magnet of remarkable skill. She didn’t even mind being in the playroom while Goldie was there. But she was also thin, her bones poking out under her skin, looking like a drop cloth over a xylophone. Her eyes were as wide as they could go, and she was obviously terrified, even when soothed by the powers of Catman.
What really captured and simultaneously broke my heart was when the assistant tried to put her back in her little kennel, and Akoya fought back, locking her legs on the opening and refusing to go. She was also loudly vocal, and what little resistance I had to adopting a new cat disappeared.
Because Akoya needed a home.
My roommate and I went to eat, promising we would return. Over dinner I revealed that the decision I thought we now needed to make was not whether we were adopting a cat, but whether we were adopting one of them, or both.
Not an easy decision to make.
Considering we weren’t really sure how well introducing a new cat to our home was going to go, let alone two cats, we reluctantly agreed to just adopt one. And while Goldie was a fine, lovable kitty … I couldn’t bear to leave Akoya behind.
And so the adoption process proceeded, along with a promise that if Goldie wasn’t adopted in a month, we’d consider her as well.
(Apparently, somewhere deep underneath my crusty exterior, I do have a heart. This is as surprising to me as it is to anyone.)
When we brought Akoya home, she immediately disappeared into the box springs of my bed, where she would remain for the next 24 hours. I had provided her with her own food and water, but afraid she wasn’t eating, I finally dismantled my bed and ‘coaxed’ her out. She sniffed at the food, glanced at the water, and in an orange blur disappeared into my closet. I figured that was a better home than my bed, so her dishes and litter box moved into my closet as well. She was hiding on one of the shelves; I put a cardboard box there for her to sleep in, hidden behind my hanging shirts.
That night, I was surprised to be awakened by a face-full of fur, as Akoya decided the night was the best time to come out and explore. I also found out, face first, not only does she purr like a locomotive, but she headbutts like one, too.
Over the next few weeks, she slowly became more brave and has been exploring more of the house, still mostly at night. And while she and Jinx have yet to become friends, they’re not enemies either, which I think is a good sign.
(Unexpectedly, it turns out she likes me more than my roommate. That’s a first. It must be the clothes.)
She still lives in the closet, probably because that’s where my clothes are. My black clothes. Which are now my black and yellow clothes.
(It’s definitely the clothes.)
(I should invest in a company that makes lint rollers.)
I can’t say I mind though. To me, pet hair may be the perfect accessory to any outfit.
I’ve already given up on keeping my black comforter cat-hair free, especially since now it looks like I sleep under a bumblebee hide. That’s not going to change, as Akoya has become attached enough to sleep with me through the night. Which is fine; my bed is not lacking for space.
(Judge me how you will.)
She’s put on weight and has started to fill out. Happily, when I checked the adoption website, Goldie was no longer listed, and I hope she’s found a new happy home herself.
Surprisingly, the adoption center has a 30-day return policy. It took me less than 30 hours to know I’d never use it.
All that was needed was one scared little cat with big, wide eyes brave enough to rub up against my stoney skin.
(The purring didn’t hurt, either.)
(The headbutts do a little though.)
It’s good to have pets.
Welcome home, Akoya.