Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday Betsey & Ross!

You're 11 today. How is that possible? I remember being talked into adopting the two of you, and but for weighing 4-5 times what you weighed at that first vet visit, I still see the kittens in both of you.

I'd never had pets before. Growing up we just didn't have them. I'm not sure why, we just didn't. I never saw myself as a "pet person" and I definitely wasn't a "cat person." Cats shed. They are moody. They are not affectionate. They are divas. They are selfish. So I definitely was not a cat person.

I had friends who had cats. Karen had Fluffy and Mikey. Kelly and Tammy had cats. But not me. I WAS NOT A CAT PERSON.

But Karen was convinced that I should have a pet. And given that I typically worked 60-80 hours a week, a dog was absolutely out of the question. So she started a cat campaign. And then she saw an ad in a DC neighborhood e-zine by a guy who'd found some cats and he needed to give them away. She set up the appointment for us to meet the guy and his cats.

When Karen, Kelly and I (I needed reinforcements if I was going to do this) arrived at his house in Upper Northwest, we sat on his porch and he explained to us that he loved cats and this one particular cat from the neighborhood had adopted him. She kept coming around his house and because she had no tags, he let her in one night. After a week of her random comings and goings, she came to the door one day and when he opened it up, she walked straight into the hall closet that was open. After building a little "nest," she walked back out and down the front steps, but she was back a few minutes later with a kitten in her mouth which she placed in the "nest." Then she walked back out and brought back a second kitten. At this point, he decided to follow her outside and discovered a third kitten in the bushes, that she picked up and carried into the closet.

He and the mom raised the kittens for about 8 weeks and he even took them in for their initial physical and round of shots. That's when he decided he couldn't keep all 4 cats. So he put two of the kittens up for adoption. And that's where I came in.

That evening, sitting on his front porch, I fell in love with a little kitten who looked like a miniature cow with his white body and black spots, but was quite skittish. I also fell in love with a black and brown tabby with a white belly and feet, who just wanted to give love.

Once we got home that night, you were both curious about everything. And we were all scared. I had no idea how to care for anyone or anything other than myself. And I'm sure you sensed that. I had no names picked out for you. In fact, I hadn't even thought about names. Because I adopted you around Labor Day and the nice man who rescued you said you were about 8 weeks old, Kelly, Karen and I figured you must have been born close to the 4th of July and that became your birthday. Kelly immediately suggested I name you Betsey and Ross (after Betsy Ross - who legend has it made the first US flag) and, although I had thought of Jordan and Pippen for Michael and Scottie, Betsey and Ross won, hands down in the vote among my friends. My sweet Betsey's name is misspelled because I didn't know how to spell it the first time I had to write it at the vet's office and didn't want to look stupid by asking.

That first night Betsey stayed on my bed and snuggled with me most of the night. Ross stayed under the bed. I remember worrying that Ross would never become affectionate, but little did I know that 11 years later Ross would become one who wants to give love 24/7 to anyone who will let him and Betsey saves all her love for me. You've switched roles from that first night.

Today, you still race around the house like you're in the Indy 500. You wake me up at 3:00am to let me know you can see the bottom of your food dish. You think chocolate ice cream is cat food. You always "tell" me about your days. You are fiercely protective of me and each other, keeping all the other cats in the neighborhood from walking through the backyard. Betsey sleeps on my shoulder so I can hear her purr all night. Ross sleeps on my feet or snuggles with Betsey.

So Happy Birthday Betsey and Ross. I guess I am a cat person after all. Oh, and yes, all those fireworks and parades today ARE for you.

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