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Here’s the before and after photos for Clark, from when I fostered him in 2015; he was on death row at San Francisco Animal Care and Control. The photo of him on the left was taken by Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue; on the right, a few weeks after I adopted him. In the left photo, he was in a cage where he could not even stretch out full length, and after three weeks, he got hissy and was marked “unadoptable.” Well, who would NOT get hissy being kept in a cage where you could not even lay down without curling up in the fetal position?
I remember showing this photo via Facebook to my mom, who was then 84. My darling Contessa Piglet had just passed away a few weeks earlier, and I was on the foster list for Give me Shelter. They offered Clark.
“He’s so… plain looking, after having such a gorgeous cat, I mean it’s just a foster but…” I sighed to my mom over the phone.
“Well, he is Just Plain Clark. Nothing wrong with that,” my mom said in her practical way….
We began referring to him as “JPC” or “JP Clark”, looking for the right nickname (though in the end, once I met him, he was just plain Clark after all).
I was looking forward to meeting him for several days. However, the woman from the agency changed her mind the morning that Clark was due at my house. She was worried that because he had become hissy and snarly, he would not be a good fit for me.
“Oh, I think I can handle it. Who wouldn’t be upset to be in a cage?” I said.
She wasn’t convinced, though, and since I was a “new” foster mom, I decided not to push it. She brought me a “medical” cat instead of a “behavior” issues cat.
Well, that tiny little “medical” cat was like a feral chipmunk, and got out of the bathroom where I was told to keep her. In the middle of the first night, she was flying around the apartment in a panic, pissing behind the sofa (NONE of my cats, even the sick ones towards the end, ever peed outside the box). Talk about “behavioral” issues. I could not even catch her, and she was supposed to have medicine twice a day. I texted the woman to come pick her up the next morning as I wouldn’t be able to do the medication.
When she came by to pick up the crazed cat, I said, “You know….. I think Clark really would have worked out fine. I showed his picture to my mom, she’s 84, and she thought he was handsome.”
“OH!” Said the woman, “I had no idea I was keeping you from your new BOYFRIEND!”
I thought that was a weird comment but let it go as she continued to say she could get Clark to me that afternoon.
And true to her word, she showed up with Clark around 4 pm. He stepped out of his carrier into the kitchen, where I had laid out a delicious expensive meal of three varieties of wet kitty food. He acknowledged the food but kept walking, checking things out. After a quick tour, he said, “This is fine, this will do,” and sat down and started washing his face.
“You did tell him this was temporary, right?” I asked the woman.
“Oh, yes, yes,” she said, but I knew she hadn’t. Clark had clearly decided, he was staying.
And we were together for nearly 7 years.
I am thankful for all the time we had together. He had undiagnosed and undisclosed seizure disorder which reared its head shortly after I adopted him, so he had to go to the vet quite a lot – which he HATED. I got him the stroller to make trips to the vet more pleasant for both of us – he could stretch out and watch the world, and we’d stop at parks and other places on the way – and sometimes we just went to the park so he wouldn’t associate the carriage with the vet.
Soon enough he had me trained to take him out a few times a week. He saw me through a lot. He flew across country with me three times, twice to my mother’s house before she died. He was there with me for a month as she lingered in hospital, and waited patiently at the house, never complaining about erratic mealtimes. He knew his GrandMew was not well. He comforted my siblings and he was there for me after she died.
His adventures are partially documented in the Clark Reports, but the real story is written in paw prints on my heart.
Missing my furry guy this Thanksgiving, but thankful to have the memories, and Miss Darla to keep me company.
Clark would probably say, “Drop all the maudlin reminiscing and just say HAPPY THANKSGIVING and pop open another can of turkey in gravy, lady.”
Happy Thanksgiving. <pop>