09 May 2013

My beloved cat Pippin died in 1999, less than a year after I’d moved to Los Angeles. She was a calico that I’d gotten shortly after I graduated from college and we’d moved from Chicago to New York to Los Angeles together. We were buddies. 

When I got Pippin, I also got Tabitha, a beautiful grey tabby. They were rescues and the woman who was fostering them told me they had to go to the same home because they had bonded. In all the years that I had them both (Tabitha died in 1992), I never saw any sign that they had anything but a wary tolerance for each other, and that was on a good day, but I was happy to have them both. 

Pippin’s personality popped even more after Tabitha died. She was one of those cats who was personality plus. She made me laugh almost every days. She loved to bring me presents. One day, it was a pack of eight razors (I guess she was hinting I needed to shave) that was nearly as big as she was. Another time, she managed to drag a big block of cheese off the counter to bring to me.  

Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I started volunteering at Lange Foundation, a privately-run no-kill shelter that rescues dogs and cats from the city’s kill shelters, as well as abandoned animals. I’d volunteered at the Humane Society in New York and I did basically the same thing at Lange Foundation that I did at the Humane Society. Every Saturday morning, I would go in and play with the cats and dogs to “socialize them,” and get them used to people to make them more adoptable.  Honestly, I should have paid the Lange Foundation. It was the best fuzz therapy you could imagine. There’s no problem  a rambunctious puppy or cuddly kitten can’t make better.  The animals were wonderful and it was a relief to know that they had a home at Lange for as long as it took for them to find their new forever home. 

When Pippin died, I was crestfallen. I still can’t think about her death too much without feeling horrible guilt (she had cancer that went undetected by the vets who kept treating her for other things). I took great solace in the creatures at Lange Foundation and I knew it was there, when the time was right, that I’d find a new cat. 

One day, the founder Gillian Lange, brought in a mama cat who’d been rescued from the street, with her two kittens, Cup and Saucer.  They were too young to be adopted and taken away from their mama, but a few weeks later, they were ready. I took them both into a room and sat on the floor with them and let them crawl over me and I tried to figure out their little burgeoning personalities.  Cup was a fluffy, long-haired calico with a scratchy meow that sounded not so much like a “meow” as if she were an opera singer in training. It was more like “Me, me, me, me, me.” I fell in love with her and I took her home the next week. I renamed her Callie and we’ve been best buds ever since. 

Callie has cancer now. She’s had it for several years and it’s in remission, but the vet says it could come back at any point. I know when it does, she’ll probably go pretty quickly so I try to enjoy every minute with her. She’s beside me as I write this, stretched out on her back, belly pointing skyward, with her paw lightly resting against my leg.  I’m her human and I get that. She doesn’t like anyone else and hides when I have company.  She’s feisty and sweet at the same time and precious all the time. 

I don’t understand people who don’t have some kind of pet. Do they realize what they’re missing?  The house would be entirely too quiet without Callie and her "me, me, mes" around. 

Lange founded The Lange Foundation in 1993, so this is its 20th anniversary. In addition to taking in animals from the city shelters, Lange Foundation also runs a sterilization program. The ultimate goal is to make Los Angeles a no-kill county. In addition to cash donations, Lange Foundation also accepts cars, designer clothes, furniture and antiques for resale.  The 2013 Annual Estate Sale will be held May 18-19.

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