If you follow my instagram page, you’ve probably noticed the antics of this fluffy character, The Goof Cat aka The Pre-Pandemic Cat. This weekend marks her first year home. I didn’t think I would be getting a pet at all, yet I felt this inexplicable, pressing urgency this time last year to race all over the city in search of a kitten.

My first stop was to the wonderful ASPCA in search of a long-haired rag doll (dream on) or a Norwegian Forest Cat (dream on some more), but all they had at the time was one pretty tiny kitten with a sensitive skin condition that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. The ASPCA has a great facility and the workers there handed me an invaluable resource list of other shelters to visit. During my wait there to check out the kittens, I couldn’t help noticing how difficult it was to see the older animals vying for attention without worrying what will become of the ones that no one adopts. A little boy from a family who came in to sign papers for a cat adoption called for his parents to check out “this older fat cat” who was pawing at the glass to capture his attention. I think they’d already decided on another.

I trooped further uptown against some wickedly cold headwinds to the city’s animal shelter, which depressed me further, as I could sense the desperation and resignation in all the beasties housed there. There, I saw a beautiful 11-year-old long-hair. But I wanted a kitten so I could make sure to train it. Two sibling kitten Bengal mixes glared at me from one cage. Actually, one was doing the glaring while the other bunkered behind him in the corner. I didn’t want to break them up because it was clear to me they both needed each other. They were gorgeous. I simply couldn’t take two.

The next day I headed downtown to another, somewhat ritzy pet adoption place to check out a furry profile I’d spotted on Petfinder.com, which is a great website for pet adoptions. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of another two sibling cats for Takers of Two.

This led to my last stop at Bide-a-Wee in Turtle Bay. Fantastic facility. All the volunteers were cheerful and upbeat and the place has a good feel to it. When I entered the cat section, I saw this tiny Torbie curled up. One of the caretakers gave me a few treats to try to coax her upright. She wasn’t interested. However, the older greedy velvet grey tom in the cage above her head-butted his cage to gain my attention, as if to say, “If da kid don’t want dose treats, hand ’em over pronto.” (He got one. Okay, two treats.)

The caretakers urged me stick my hand into the tiny Torbie’s cage. I felt reluctant about that and took it slowly…and she accepted a chin scratch. Done deal. She’d been recovered from beneath a car near a construction site a couple months earlier where two of her siblings were found dead.

I went through quite a bit of turmoil whilst waiting for the adoption papers. This had been a 3-day non-stop adventure that criss-crossed the city, as I felt this inexplicable NEED to scour every shelter to bring home a kitten. Why? I had this vague yet incremental sense that something awful was about to happen and that time was of essence. I couldn’t put my finger on it, though I knew it was going to be obvious by mid-March, which you can also read of here and here.

The last time I felt that way in December was back in 2004. I was crossing a bridge on foot in the city over a busy highway when I had the completely irrational image of a giant, unstoppable monster like something out of a campy Japanese Gamera v. Barguron film that crushed anything in its path. It didn’t make any sense. As I watched the rush hour traffic whizzing by below, I wondered what kind of thing was capable of sweeping away and immolating whatever fell into its path? Four days later, the Indonesian Tsunami happened.

As I waited on that clipboard to fill out the pet adoption paperwork, my other thought was, “Am I doing the right thing?” It was now or never. I signed the papers and brought her home in the rain, holding an umbrella over the top of the carrier the entire way.

Later on, I heard of people getting pandemic pets. And I do wonder how these animals will adjust if/when we all return to a normal working/travel schedule, unless all that world has altered for good.

This is my pre-pandemic cat. She’s sweet-natured, happy and loves chasing a laser pointer directly onto a door that she can thwack and boom because she derives lots of joy from making that big skid and resonant BOOM, not unlike the way little kids who enter hallway vestibules become even louder because they’re aware that the acoustics lend them this wonderful effect of delivering a sound that’s bigger than they actually are. And I know she wants to stay because her first impulse was to race for my room and hide rather than bolt out the open front door (when she easily could have) when a repairman left it wide open one day.

New Year’s Eve confetti fun 2020.