I wanted a cat from the moment Mr Dreamy and I got married and moved to New Zealand, but he dragged his heels for over a year. He pointed out how expensive and how much work it would be, how it would make it hard to find a new flat if we needed to move, how it would make it hard to go on vacation etc, etc.
But I persisted, and with a little help from my wonderful mother in law (she told us point blank that we needed to do two things in 2007 – get a cat and get a car!) Mr Dreamy finally agreed to go cat hunting in February of 2007.
I knew what kind of cat I wanted: a female with a lot of personality. An active, inquisitive, people focused cat that wouldn’t mind being an only cat. I was willing to get a male if needed, but the personality was a must. We had a preference for a kitten, and for a short-haired cat, but neither of these were deal-breakers
You would think that finding a cat would be easy. Aren’t the shelters supposed to be swarming with cats and kittens in need of adoption? Aren’t the SPCA supposed to be thrilled when a young married couple with a disposable income and a huge yard that is far, far away from any road show up wanting a cat to love and dote on?
Apparently not. I called and called and called the SPCA, and just got their answering machine, which was so full of messages that I couldn’t leave one.
Finally, after a week I got ahold of a person and asked about coming to look at their cats and kittens and they heard my accent, said “Oh, you can’t adopt a cat, you need to be a New Zealand resident” and hung up on me.
(Insert shocked emoticon here)
Now, I understand that there have been problems with university students from overseas adopting an animal while they were here in NZ, and then abandoning it when they left, but they didn’t even ask if I was a resident or give me a chance to explain, which I thought was very, very rude!
I immediately called back and explained that my husband was a NZ citizen, I was a resident, and there shouldn’t be any problem in my adopting a cat. I asked to make an appointment to see their cats and they said “Oh, we are too busy right now. It will be weeks or months before we could consider you.” At which point I got fed up and said thank you in my politest but frostiest voice, and hung up. My mood did not improve when I saw the SPCA’s “adopt an animal today!” ad in the next day’s newspaper.
So then I went looking for other places to adopt a cat from, and found the Wellington Cat Protection League. Yes, that really exists. And it is really named that. They said they had lots of kittens and cats, and to come visit at one of their members homes next Saturday.
So Saturday we showed up, and met a real, honest to goodness cat lady. She had 17 of her own cats, and was fostering another 11 kittens from 3 different batches at the time. Unfortunately, all the kittens were too young to adopt out, and we wouldn’t even be allowed to put dibs on one of them until they were. I’m not sure why they had us come visit at all!
At this point Mr Dreamy and I were getting slightly fed up, and slightly desperate. Then someone at work told me that she knew a vet out in the Hutt (the Hutt is to Wellington as Oakland or San Jose is to SF. Or like New Jersey is to NYC. Once you live in the city you are appaulled by the idea that you should have to drive out that far to hicksville to source something) who had kittens that needed adopting.
So we called the vet, and, miracle of miracles, they sounded nice and cheerful and normal, and were thrilled that we wanted to come visit and meet the two kittens they had.
So that Saturday we drove out to the Hutt, which Wellingtonian’s may consider a cultural wasteland, but which is extremely pretty. And it was closed! There was a sign on the door saying that due to an emergency they had had to shut for the day.
But we were persistent, so the next Saturday we drove out to the Hutt again, and the vets were delighted to see us, and once they had cleared two dogs out of the waiting room they brought out two darling, adorable little kittens to meet us.
One of them was a 6 week old sleek little white male, utterly gorgeous. And the other was a tiny four week old fluff of pastel calico. The two of them gamboled about our feet, and I picked up the male kitten and tried to cuddle him, but he struggled to get back down and play with his friend. So I put him down and picked up the little girl, and she cuddled right in to me and tried to chew on my fingers and batted at my face.
And I fell in love right then and there.
The vets were thrilled to bits. The little fluffball I wanted had lost her mother when very young and had been hand-raised by people. She and the white kitten were alone together all night at the vet clinic, so it would be fantastic if she could go home and live with someone full time. Usually they couldn’t adopt cats until they were at least 8 weeks old, but in her case it would be good if she got a home right away.
I was bouncing up and down, hoping that we could take her home that day. And that’s when the vets told me that if I had picked the male I could have taken him right away, but the female technically belonged to the Hutt SPCA, and I was going to have to ask them if I could have her.
The vets said they would call the SPCA and explain they had found a home for the kitten, and we could expect a call from the SPCA in the next day or two to confirm details. We filled out a form, Mr Dreamy took a picture of me with the darling, adorable ball of fluff and wonder, and we went home to wait.
And we waited, and waited. Nothing on Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday!
On Friday I got desperate and called the SPCA myself. The lady who answered said “Oh, we looked at your paperwork and saw that you both work, and we don’t want the kitten to spend time alone because she is so young, so you can’t have her.”
As patiently as I could I explained that Mr Dreamy and I had been saving up leave so that we could spend lots of time with our new pet as they adjusted, and surely it was better for her to live in a home with us than to be alone every night an all weekend in the vet clinic?
To which the lady responded “Oh, we noticed that you live in Wellington as well, and we assume you will not be willing to drive back to the Hutt to get her fixed when she is old enough, so you can’t have her.”
So I had to explain that if we were willing to take multiple trips to the Hutt to find her and meet her, surely we would also be willing to bring her back to be fixed?
So the lady finally conceded that we might be able to have her, she would have to check with the vets again.
So I rushed and called the vet clinic back and pleaded my case, and lovely, sensible people that the were they promised to do everything they could to convince the SPCA that we would be good cat parents.
Later that day I finally got a call saying that the kitten could be ours!
And that is how Felicity came to stay with us.*
*This story is also why the SPCA was in my black books for a very long time. Helping animals is important, but you have to be polite to people too!