"A frightened little waif;" that's how the nice lady in Dundas described me when she let me in on that stormy night way back in June, 2011.
I'd started coming to her door a few weeks earlier; at first she just patted me and told me to go home but, being homeless, I just hung around until eventually she noticed how skinny I was and started feeding me.
That night I'd just huddled at her door meowing for help till she brought me inside. I said a little prayer of thanks and fell fast asleep. When I woke up the next morning I overheard the lady telling someone about me and saying that she couldn't keep me. I was worried that she'd throw me out. But, she didn't.
Instead, she arranged for a rescue group (Animal Welfare Association) to pick me up, promising that they'd look after me at a veterinarian clinic that provided "room and board" until I got a home.
The people there were nice but I was alone most of the time - in a little cage in a room with no windows. I was kinda bored and lonely and, as the months went by and no-one came to visit me, I started to worry that this was all I'd know of life - and that I'd never get to "go home."
Then, one morning, I was told that some people had come to see me and I was taken to a little room to meet them. I'd never been in that room before and there were strange noises outside the room and I didn't know anything about these people; so I was so nervous that I kept my distance. After they left and I was back to my little cage, I wished I had tried harder to make friends with them and felt very sad because I didn't expect to see them again. But, a few weeks later, they came back and, this time, they told me that they understood how nervous I was and that they liked me a lot and wanted to take me "home" - just to try it out.
When we arrived at the house, they took me upstairs and showed me a lovely room with a cosy bed, a clean litter box, food and water - and even a window! They told me that this was my room and gave me time to look around and settle in before opening the door a crack.
Then in came this really handsome white cat who sauntered over to rub noses and introduced himself as Topaz. I was startled and I reacted rather badly; instead of responding politely to his greeting - and kissing him back (as I wanted to), I stood on my hind legs and hissed at him. That hurt his feelings but he handled it well - just quietly walking away saying, "OK - I won't bother you. "
The next day, when my folks opened the door and I wandered out of my room to explore the 2nd floor, I saw another white cat sitting in the room directly across the hall. He was an older guy and seemed nice. Topaz told me that his name was Galileo and that he owned the house and that, if I kept my distance and didn't bug him, everything would be OK; so, I just smiled politely and walked by. Topaz hung around but didn't pressure me and soon he and I were chatting and getting along just fine - running around the house, sitting together on the perch at the front door, and enjoying "cocktails" (cheese whiz and occasionally some bits of meat or a taste of something called pate) in the early evening. The people were nice; they seemed to understand that I was OK as long as they didn't try to pick me up. So, I started jumping up on their bed and snuggling up to their legs at night (when they were asleep) just to show them a bit of affection. I still didn't like to be patted, wouldn't do pet-like things like snuggle on their laps and I panicked if they tried to pick me up. They seemed to understand that this was just the way I am.
The end of November, when I'd been in the house only a few weeks, they started changing things around - putting up a tree, decorating it with ornaments, and playing "jingle bells" type music. Topaz explained that this meant that Christmas was approaching and that last year Galileo had told him all about it. They'd had a wonderful 1st Christmas together.
Life was busy and fun and I was starting to get excited about Christmas. But then everyone in the house got tense and started talking about 'poor Galileo' and how sick he was. And on December 15 everyone was crying because the vet was coming to the house to "put Galileo to sleep." Just before she arrived, I saw Topaz go over to him and gently kiss him good-bye.
As Christmas Day got closer, the house started to seem festive again and Topaz and I overheard our people saying how glad they were that they had the two of us and how they wanted to make sure that my first Christmas in the house would be a happy one.
On Christmas Eve, as we sat on our cozy chairs by the fire, Topaz read to me a poem that he'd written the previous year, when he was celebrating his first Christmas in the house. Galileo had loved Christmas and had told him all about the magic of the season and they were, at that pointed becoming buddies. The poem was about "the night before Christmas" and it ended with the lines: Happy Christmas to all,
and a purr-fect good-night.
Topaz was very sweet as he told me that I was his buddy now and that he and I would be celebrating many, many Christmases together. And we agreed that, on every Christmas Eve we'd read the poem and think about Galileo; he had loved Christmas and we were sure that his spirit would be there with us to enjoy that moment of feline togetherness.
Christmas Day was a bit hectic - with too much noise and too many people; so, Topaz and I kept pretty much to ourselves except when we smelled the turkey. We rushed down to the dining room and, yes, we were given several helpings. Topaz explained that this was one of the good things about Christmas and I agreed. Our folks told us that tomorrow we could have more - and that tomorrow would be a quieter day - a time when all the attention would be on us and when we'd have lots of presents of our own to open.
Only our people and our godparents, Alan and Elise, were there. Alan and Elise had come all the way from Florida and they'd put a very special gift for us under the tree. As we opened it, they explained to us that their cat, Ollie, loved these balls and soon we discovered that we loved them too.Topaz and I spent all evening chasing these brightly coloured mushy soccer balls all over the house and carrying them around in our mouths. And the next morning, as soon as we woke up, we were off playing with them again.
It's hard to believe but we've been playing with these balls and other toys and having cocktails together and washing each other and snuggling together for almost a year now. And that once again Christmas is approaching.
And - oh - did I mention that there are three of us now. A tiny grey, long haired cat named Sophie moved in with us in October. I wasn't sure at first that I wanted to share Topaz with her but it seems to be working out OK. Sophie's a quiet little girl - she's polite - and Topaz still spends lots of his time with me.
Soon he and I will start explaining Christmas to Sophie. And on Christmas Eve all three of us will be sitting by the fire reading the poem about the night before Christmas, telling Sophie all about Galileo. And, yes, his spirit will be with us - purring and wishing us (and our people) a very Merry Christmas.