Originally published on my old (and still kind of active) blogger blog (Yes, I started off there, don’t judge) in late April of 2015:
I turned to Gayle and exclaimed “Tyler’s the one, obviously.” I didn’t have much choice in the matter. He had chosen me and that was that.
“Yes, I see that.” Gayle was happy. I was happy. He seemed like just the cat I was looking for.
Gayle brought me to a back room to sit down and fill out the adoption contract. Yes, there was a contract. Full of clauses like “we have the right to inspect your house and the animal’s living condition at any time.” Sure, come over, my mom cleans every day and she will probably offer you a bagel with lox. Another was “if you declaw this animal we reserve the right to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.” I called Gayle over.
“Um….can you write a note on this clause? He’s already declawed.” She did. Whew.
Tyler hung out in the room I was in, which actually doubled as the laundry for all the cat beds and towels. Above the overworked washing machines were several shelves with folded up towels and stacked cat beds. Despite this being the “laundry,” each clean cat bed and each pile of towels had….you guess it…….a cat curled up and asleep. They really were everywhere. Trust me, if you even had a small semblance of an allergy, you would not have made it out of the cattery alive.
Of course, Tyler kept me company as I filled out the application. More than that, in fact. He waltzed in, jumped on the highest spot, a cat tree in one corner of the room, and literally shoved the cat that was asleep in “his” spot down to the floor. I couldn’t help but get a big kick out of that. He wanted that spot and he was going to GET that spot. Tyler has quite a pair, I thought. Quite a pair.
I filled out the application, signed it, and paid the adoption fee, gladly. As I had no cat supplies at home, I let Gayle know I would be back as soon as they opened the next morning with a carrier to take Tyler home. I gave Tyler another scratch on the head and reluctantly left. Tyler followed me to the door, as if to say “wait aren’t I coming home with you?” I wanted everything to be prepared, you know? Besides, that was what Cats for Dummies said. Prepare their food, their litter, their toys, so they acclimate to their environment faster. I’ve tried to be a by the book kind of guy, so that sounded good to me!
I was SO excited. More excited than I have ever felt in my life. This was MY PET. MY first ever pet. I loved Casey, and I always wished I had been more involved, but she really didn’t count. My parents chose her. I chose Tyler. I mean, I sort of did, he did walk up to me, but this was my idea. My own cat! My first REAL REAL pet. I wish it was Saturday already!
My next stop? The nearest pet store, where I proceeded to buy EVERYTHING. A litter box, litter, food, toys, a brush, bowls, a cat carrier, holy crap I spent a fortune! Caution be damned, I wanted Tyler to want for NOTHING. MY cat was going to be spoiled to the hilt!
I finally went home (‘where have you been Daniel?’) ate a quick dinner and set all of Tyler’s things up. It didn’t take long for my parents to start the questioning.
“So, Daniel. Tell us. Do we have a cat?” My mother asked. Picture a Jewish Brooklyn accent, so my name sounded more like Dan-Yul.
“Mom, Dad, we have a cat. His name is Tyler.”
“You have a cousin named Tyler you know.” My father reminded me, genuinely excited but his usual sarcastic self.
“Tyler the human” I still refer to him by that name, “is in California and I barely speak to him. He’ll get over it. I’ll go get him tomorrow and bring him home, I wanted to make sure everything was set up.”
“Is he cool?” My father asked.
“Yes, he’s got style, that’s for sure, I think he will fit in well here.”
“He’s declawed, right?” My mother worried.
“All four paws.”
“What color is he?” My mother, ever the interior decorator.
“Black and white. He’s actually a tuxedo cat. Black with a white tie and white tails.”
“OK, wanna watch a movie with us?” My dad was, and is, the KING of being sedentary. Conversations that didn’t interest him merely kept him from watching TV and flipping the channels. Mind you this was in 2000, before anything streamed. You actually had to pop a disc into a player in those days.
“Sure. Star Trek II?” I don’t actually remember what movie we watched, but I frequently requested that one. I mean, c’mon, that’s a movie I never get tired of. KHAN!!!
As is my habit when I am excited about something, I did not sleep much. I was just too excited. My last night without a pet. How could anyone sleep? I finally nodded off and woke up on December 9, 2000 at…..6am. Little Shelter does not open until noon on Saturdays so I had 6 whole hours to wait. SIX FUCKING HOURS. You know when you’re excited about something and the time just……drags…….on……and………on. I had breakfast, read the paper cover to cover, cleaned, and showered, I may have even read War and Peace, but finally it came time to head east to the shelter and….Tyler!
Off I went in my dad’s Lexus SUV, why not take my own car you may ask? Well, his car had the car phone and I was to call my parents when I was almost home with Tyler. Remember those? Installed in the car, an actual phone, with a phone cord and antenna that mounted on the trunk lid? Mind you, those were the days before texting and driving, actually before texting at all. With all due respect to Steve Jobs, no iPhone on the planet can hold a candle to the call quality of an old school car phone. Not to mention nothing ever looked COOLER.
I arrived at the shelter and was quickly escorted back to the cattery. No politeness this time. I was a “high roller.” An adopter. A rescuer. I saved one of their shelter cats and gave him a forever home! It was an awesome feeling.
“I’m here to pick up Tyler.” I proudly exclaimed.
“Oh, Tyler’s going home?” One of the other shelter employees asked. “That’s great, he deserves it!”
He sure did.
Just like the night before, Tyler was waiting for me at the front door. Tail in the air, he was happy. He just KNEW something was up. I’m sure it’s the same with your cats, but especially with Tyler. He always KNEW. When I was going away, when I was leaving for work, he had this sixth sense. Gayle was there, all smiles.
“He’s waiting for you!” That he was. They should have put a little jacket and suitcase on him.
I knelt down and placed the carrier right in front of him and opened the door. Tyler walked right in and curled up. That was that. No struggle, no convincing. He was my boy.
Gayle hugged me, a few of the shelter employees said their goodbyes to Tyler (had this been 2015 he would have been photographed for their Facebook page, but not in 2000) and we were off.
The whole ride home he meowed and meowed. Happy meows, curious meows. “So, are we living on Long Island? How many cat beds did you get me? You know I only eat Science Diet right?” I talked to him, letting him know how far from home we were and how happy I was that I found him. He answered with his little meow, as if he understood me. When I was a few blocks away I called my parents to let them know we…WE….would be there in a few.
When I pulled into the driveway both of my parents were outside waiting for me. My dad ran to the car. That in and of itself surprised me. I never expected my dad to be excited about having a cat in the house, but he was. My mother, who never relaxed about ANYTHING, was a bit more cautious.
“Is that the cat?” My dad asked, already knowing the answer.
“Mom, Dad, meet…..Tyler.”
My mother took a look in the carrier. Tyler, sitting up, eyes curious and alert, stared right back at her.
“So, what do you think?” I asked. “He’s cute, isn’t he?”
“He looks so serious.”