This is National Pet Appreciation Week, or so Alexa told me. These days, the pet I appreciate most is Homer. So today I’ll subject you to a tail tale I’d previously written describing Homer’s gotcha story:
Homer is black and nobody wanted him. Not even me.
A few years ago, I adopted Reno, a flame-point Siamese mix, from a local rescue. They did some gentle arm-twisting at the time of adoption to convince me to adopt his brother Homer—the sleek little house panther to whom Reno was bonded. But hubby had a strict 3-cat limit and we were full up.
Fast forward four months.
Reno’s integration into our household had a few hiccups. We’d adopted a kitten as a companion to our existing flame-point, Banzai, an energetic two-year old in need of a playmate. But I’d underestimated the difference in energy between a three-month old kitten and a two-year-old teenager. Reno became the pesky interloper who tormented Banzai, pouncing on him with non-stop invitations to play. The normally even-tempered Banzai became a cranky oldster with a nose twisted permanently out of joint.
Reno had developed his own issues, the worst being inappropriate urination. No problem, I thought. I was well-versed in all the possible solutions, and every few days would tick one of them off, moving down the list seeking one that would work. We had an abundance of litter boxes in quiet areas around the house and cleaned each a couple of times each day. Feliway made no difference; neither did Rescue Remedy. We had to sleep with a plastic shower liner on our bed. I patrolled the house in the dark, black light in hand, seeking out pee spots and dousing them with Nature’s Miracle and a home-made vinegar solution. We switched a couple of the litter boxes out with every litter formulation we could find. Sprinkling Dr Elsey’s Cat Attract on the litter helped the most, but still was not a cure-all.
We took Reno to the vet to have him neutered and determine if there was a physiological cause for the peeing. His health was perfect, neutering made no difference, and he continued to pee with impunity.
It’s a good thing the little demon was adorable.
I got in touch with the rescue to submit proof of neutering. In my conversation with the rescue lady, she mentioned that his brother Homer, the little black kitten, still had not been adopted, despite spending every weekend for the last five months at the mobile adoption unit at Petco. Homer didn’t show well. He would cower in the back of his cage, didn’t like being held, and like many black cats didn’t warrant a second glance from potential adopters.
He’d been homed briefly by the couple who adopted the remaining two kittens in his litter. They returned him the next day, complaining that he “played too much.” It didn’t look like this little black kitten was destined for a furrever home.
I mentioned Homer’s status to hubby, knowing he wouldn’t give an inch in relaxing the three-cat limit. But just in case, I also threw in that Homer was growing out of his cute kitten phase and that black cats are the most-euthanized cats in shelters**, adding that I hoped Homer wouldn’t get sent to the sausage factory.
I left for the afternoon. When I returned, hubby told me he’d thought it over and agreed that adopting Homer might help to resolve some of Reno’s behavioral problems. The brothers were reunited shortly thereafter.
Adding Homer to our household was a sprinkle of magic pixie dust.
It took thirty seconds for the brothers to recognize each other, and then they were off to the races. Literally. Reno showed Homer the magnificent straightaway provided by the upstairs hallway, then led him across the living room to the cat tower which led to the top of the entertainment center, where whoever made it up first was christened king of the hill. Countless Thundering-Herd-of-Elephants games ensued.
There had been trouble in the last year between Tripper (our senior feline alpha cat at a hefty 23 lbs.) and Banzai. Tripper had become increasingly aggressive toward Banzai, chasing him off the deck while hissing, growling, and barring his teeth. Banzai was being cowed by Tripp outside and pounced upon by Reno inside. This once-genial cat became withdrawn and standoffish.
When we adopted Homer, I was wary that adding him to the household would make matters even worse for our feline dynamic. Instead, it had the opposite effect, and I’m not sure how Homer did it.
Perhaps the time he spent living with the rescue lady and her dozens of rescue cats made him a natural diplocat. Even though he was a little tremulous with us humans at first, he was quick to approach both Banzai and Tripper and make them his BFFs. He would roll over on his back next to Tripper, legs splayed out in a submissive pose, softly batting at him, inviting Tripp to play. Formerly feral and now in his late teens, Tripp had never learned how to play. That didn’t discourage Homer, even when Tripper pancaked him. Never say you can’t teach an old cat new tricks; at the age of 17, Tripper learned to play.
The two older cats could not ignore Homer’s entreaties of friendship. When Homer approached them, head bowed in deference, they responded with some grooming licks. Soon thereafter, Tripp and Banzai mended fences. Before long the two older cats were napping side-by-side on the deck, and rather than terrorizing him, Tripp now grooms Banzai.
Without the constant pestering to play from Reno or Tripp’s bullying, Banzai has relaxed. He returned to his laid-back genial self and engages in play with the two young brothers when they break open the silvervine. Banzai runs up to Tripp whenever he spots him, rubbing against him in friendship, and rolling on his back.
Reno’s pee problems ended for the most part the day Homer moved in. (From time to time he’ll have a lapse when the siren call of plastic sings to him.) He discharges his excess energy in raucous play sessions with Homer, ending with the two collapsing in a tangle of asses and elbows in a heated cat cup.
As for Homer, he never has to spend another weekend cowering in a cage in a failed attempt to get adopted.
In recent months, Homer has become joined to me at the hip. I swear, before Tripp left, he instructed Homer in all the things Homer would need to do once Tripp was gone. The two of them had become best buddies (a first for Tripp). Very soon after Tripp was gone, Homer assumes all of his duties. He waits for me to come to bed at night by sitting on my spot on the bed. Once I climb into bed, he climbs on my chest, and I pet him for ten minutes of so, telling him what a good boy he is, and how he’s my favorite.
In the mornings, he comes into the bedroom after he’s had his breakfast. He gives me a little kiss on the mouth or nose, then naps quietly until I wake up. As soon as I wake up, he lets me know it’s time to put on his big-boy harness so he can go outside. Once outside I can sometimes spot him parked beside the “Tripper’s girlfriend statue.”
He’s even tried sprawling atop the kitchen table, which was Tripp’s spot (Mr TF kicks him off and lets him know that Tripp was the only cat allowed to get away with that.)
Homer worked hard to heal my broken heart over Tripp, and my heart will be shattered when Homer’s gone. I certainly appreciate all pets I’ve ever had, and Homer is one of the one’s at the top of the list.