Hey, Jude

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Here is the newest installment in the monthly #FelineFriday series.

How my third and youngest son took a sad song and made it better.

My 3 year old is in charge. When Kip passed away from a chronic illness at age 14, it left just Kitty and I. Again. I always called Kip and Kitty the dynamic duo. They grew up together. Kitty and I were alone the first year; then Kip had arrived shortly after Kitty’s first birthday. So after Kip passed away, Kitty and I were alone. I was okay with that.

Kitty was not. He needed a companion. We spend a lot of time together. We grieved together. As time went on, I noticed that instead of getting better, Kitty actually got worse. He was clingier and his anxiety levels seemed to increase when I left the house. He needed a companion.

I spent some time searching for the perfect companion for him. Being that Kitty is an older cat in his teens, I did not want to bring in some young punk that was going to push him around. I also knew that neither one of us has the tolerance to be able to survive kitten phase again. We needed a young adult with an easy-going personality.

I searched four local shelters talking to staff about cats and their personalities trying to find someone who would fit into our family. When I adopt, I adopt for life, so I wanted it to be a positive situation for everyone. I was not going to adopt and return or rehome if it did not work out. It needed to work out.

I had pretty much given up hope, thinking that the cat that would be the perfect match to join our family just wasn’t out there yet, but that it would happen in time. Quite a few people in my social circle knew I was looking to adopt. Then, one of them called me and said, “I’ve found the cat you want.” He was in a shelter about 2 hours away from where we live.

I called the shelter on a showy Valentine’s Day to inquire. I explained Kitty and my situation to the shelter manager, who seemed to think that the cat in general would be a good fit. We were in the middle of a central New York snowstorm. Both schools and my work were closed for the day. But, the plows had been out, the roads appeared clear, and I decided to make the 2-hour drive north to visit with our potential new family member.

Once I arrived, I spent a few hours at the shelter visiting with our potential new family member and talking with staff that had interacted with him. I learned of his background as a stray that had been taken from a hoarding situation that involved over 30 cats in a singlewide trailer. I talked to the shelter animal trainers about how he interacted with other cats in playgroups and socialization times.

We found our family member. Jude Raymond Anderson came home on February 14, 2014. He was 2 years old at the time.

I did the slow introduction method where I had Jude in a separate bedroom for about a week before I introduced him to Kitty. It did not go as planned. They had some accidental meetings. They were positive. They each knew the other was there and would put a paw under the door. Jude escaped. Kitty tried to enter Jude’s room. The introduction was not as gradual as it was supposed to be, but it was positive. There was no hissing or fighting involved.

Sometimes I am skeptical about their relationship. Jude is young and playful. Kitty will play with him to a point, but then gets tired, probably due to age, and seems irked that Jude continues to pursue him. Yet there are also times when they lick each other. I am pretty sure they are friends. Kitty’s anxiety level is almost non-existent now that he has a companion.

Jude is a joy in our household. He definitely keeps both Kitty and I on our toes. I am glad we did not get a kitten. It is challenging enough trying to keep up with a 3 year old. We play every day. He runs around the house. Jude is pretty good about settling down at night, though. He even sleeps with us sometimes.

By the way, Jude is the boy name I had picked out for a human child. Given that I am unable to have children, Jude is actually the first of my fur-babies to have a name I had reserved for a human child. It took a lot for me to do that. I think that when you are told you cannot have children that there is always some part of you that holds out hope that they are wrong. Giving Jude the name I had chosen for a human son was a big step for me in being able to accept my life, flaws and all. I love him like a son. I truly do. I have now raised 3 boys. Yes, they may have 4 paws and a tail, but they are all each very much my sons.

Jude entered a time in our lives when Kitty and I were perhaps the saddest we have ever been. We have a very different dynamic in our house with a 3 year old. I would not change it for the world. He has brought life and love to our house. In the true meaning of the Beatles tune after which he is named, Jude has indeed taken a sad song and made it better.

Hey, Jude. We love you.

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