Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fifteen years and counting with my cat Betsy!

by Lorna Barrett / Lorraine Bartlett / L.L. Bartlett

Katie in a bag.
Thursday was the 15th anniversary of the day we got our kittens. It was a gray day--not at all unusual for February, but not a lot of snow was on the ground, either.  Eight months before, we had lost our beloved Katie-Cat. (The heroine of my Victoria Square Mysteries is named after her.)

Mr. L and I drove across town to the local humane society (Lollipop Farm) to find another tabby.  There was only one available for adoption.  A four-month-old kitten.  She was in a cage with her sister.  They had been there only a day, and they were frightened.  They had their little arms wrapped around each other.  It broke my heart.  We asked to see them both to decide which one we'd take.

Bonnie & Betsy keep warm by the heat run.
We wanted one cat.

We ended up with two.

No way could we split up these two sisters.  (Betsy and Bonnie.)

The first few months we had them, the girls were inseparable--although they both showed teen-age puppy love for our then dominate male, Larry.  (They absolutely LOVED him!  They both looked at him with adoring eyes.  So funny!)

As time went by, however, the girls seemed to forget that they started out in the same womb.  Sometimes they'd sit together, but it was usually by accident.  And often, if one got too close to the other--crowding her sister--there'd be hissing, although the girls always ate side-by-side and were never bothered by it.

Our Gingerbread Girl, May 2011
We lost our tabby Bonnie to cancer last November.  There's a huge hole in our hearts that doesn't want to mend.  Meanwhile, her sister Betsy never seemed to notice her womb-mate was gone.

What we have discovered over the years is that (DUH!) cats don't think the same way humans do. Sibling cats CAN be separated and live long and happy lives. As we learned to our detriment, humane societies and animal rescue organizations are always looking to "get rid of" a 2-for. (And who can blame them.)  But honestly, if you only want one cat, and they try to foist off two on you, you have to decide what is best for you and your new pet.

George, the tiny terrorist.
We were "suckered" into taking two other siblings several years after we acquired the kittens.  Two adult male cats.  I wanted the Tuxedo (my tiny son, Fred), but the rescue organization would not split up the pair.  The outcome?  A disaster.  You see, we already had one adult male cat.  Despite being tiny in size, one of the new brothers was terribly aggressive,   (Napoleon Syndrome to the max!) We ended up with both new boys spraying our walls, rugs, and furniture to mark their territory.  It wasn't until Mr. Aggressive began to physically abuse little Betsy that we had to say "enough!"  It was time for this cat to go.  But, George (we named the boys after the Weasley twins) had a very happy ending. Mr. L's cousin's best friend was looking for a companion cat for her girl.  So we drove George 90 miles to Buffalo where he went to live with Cindy and Smirnoff. All three of them THRIVED!  Nine years later, they are all still very happy together.  And Fred gets along very well with our (now) dominate cat, Chester.  (Well, most of the time.)

The last picture of Bonnie (left) and Betsy taken together (fall, 2011)
By the way, over the years, we've come to call our little Betsy our bonus girl. (Or rather, our Princess, our Sweetheart Girl.)  How odd is it that she's still here while her sister (the beauty--our Gingerbread Girl--who we sought to fill the hole left by losing Katie) is gone.  (Mind you, we almost lost Betsy four years ago to lymphoma.)

So, happy anniversary, Betsy.  We love you.

(P.S.  We still call her our kitten.  She doesn't mind.)