I think I may have mentioned the three pets we have? In a 680-square-foot apartment? Maybe a time or two?
(For the record, we did not adopt them all when we lived in such a small space. We did it when we had two whole floors and like…six separate rooms or something! It was practically a mansion.)
After our first cat, Ella, seemed to prefer Zack over me (HEARTILY PREFER, I might add) I was what you might call bitter devastated. So about two months later, I insisted politely suggested getting another cat who’d, you know, maybe like ME a little (me me MEEE). And Zack was all “Sure! Ella might like another cat to play with anyway” and I was all “Hahaha SUCKER” because Zack had no idea what he was getting himself into.
(Side note: I am animal-crazy and have always brought home animals randomly, often without permission or discussion, which I totally warned Zack about before we were even dating seriously. And he had one of those ‘I’m going to pat you on the head and say okay’ moments because he did not think I was serious.) (Two months after Cat Numero Dos, we adopted Arlo.)
Anyway! On my lunch break one fine August day in Charlottesville, Virginia, we decided to check out the SPCA. Which was absolutely overflowing with kittens. BASKETS AND BASKETS AND BASKETS OF KITTENS. So many kittens that they were having a two-fer sale, which Zack immediately nixed:
“One kitten, Austin. ONE.”
I went against everything I knew to be true about adopting a cat from a shelter: that black cats are the hardest to find homes for; that getting an adult cat is better than getting a kitten because you KNOW what you are getting yourself into, they are calmer, they are also hard to find homes for; that in any case, you should adopt for personality and not for looks. So of course, I chose the tiniest, fluffiest, prettiest baby kitty of them all, who was terrified the moment I took her out of her cage but curled up in my arms and immediately started to purr. I took her home and named her Sappho. She is my baaaaaybeeeee.
She’s also what we affectionately call defective.
First and foremost, Sappho is scared of pretty much everything. She will only come to Zack if he is speaking in a high-pitched “happy” voice, and she’s outta there at one cough, sneeze, or normal-voiced word. After more than two years of living together, she barely tolerates Arlo’s existence, usually preferring to ride the highlands of the furniture or hide under the bed over being on the floor if he’s in the vicinity. Visitors only see her if everyone is seated and the talking/laughter isn’t too boisterous, and even then it’s only long enough for them to maybe catch a whisper of gray fluff before she’s back under the bed (or in my closet, where she likes to lay on my clothes and get them full of hair; she can open the door all by herself, which was adorable until I ran out of tape for my hair-removing sticky roller thing).
Sappho loves me. Me me MEEE! But in a timid, I’ll-look-at-you-imploringly-until-you-invite-me-onto-your-lap sort of way. She is not pushy or impatient unless she’s waiting for food, unlike Ella and Arlo, who vie openly for lap time and will insist that you hold them and love them AREN’T I ADORABLE MOMMY?? Also, to invite Sappho, you don’t call her or pat your lap or the couch beside you; you point at her. For some reason, we have no idea why, that is the only signal she recognizes to mean “come here.”
And the litterbox. Oh, the litterbox. Thankfully, both our cats use the litter box religiously and without complaint about whatever state of, ahem, fullness it might be in. We have one of those covered ones to help contain the litter that gets thrown overboard in the business-covering process. Sappho does not seem to fully grasp the concept of the litter box, however. We discovered, after hearing a strange scraping noise once, that Sappho does her business, sticks her head and both front paws out of the box, and scrapes at the outside of it, rather than actually covering anything. Which explained why her trips to the litter box always ended up in a whole-room reek, which, EW. We cannot seem to break her of this habit. Yes, it still stinks.
So timid little Sappho (or Wappho, Waff, Waffie, Sapphie, or Saf, as I usually call her) (I’m 78% sure she thinks her name is actually “Waff”) has actually THRIVED in our tiny apartment, whereas the other two pets are pretty much bored senseless. She only had a wild-eyed, panicked look about her for a month or so after we moved in (moving from Charlottesville to Chicago with a month-long detour at my mom’s house was a wee bit traumatizing for poor Waff). She every now and again will let Arlo near her and she sleeps on top of the bed during the day, or on the floor in the sunshine even, sometimes. And friends? This is the biggest, most exciting news of all:
Sappho escapes into the hallway.
We sometimes let Ella run around the hallway of our floor for a few minutes, since she’s bored and we’re a tad concerned about the state of her um, rotundness, as there’s not much room for her get any exercise in the apartment. But Sappho has never shown even a flicker of interest in going anywhere until the last week or so. All of the sudden, every time I come home, she’s waiting by the door to escape. And she’s not just trying to catch a glimpse of the Great Outdoors, either. SHE WANTS OUT. To sniff the elevator doors and the carpet and stare at the weird vent-thingy up by the ceiling that makes a lot of noise.
I won’t lie; I’m sort of bursting with pride. My baby! She’s all courageous and stuff! She wants to see the world and maybe one day she will grow up to be a doctor or something even. I mean, she totally could, you guys. You don’t even know. She’s brilliant! Beautiful! And did I mention she does her own stunts now?