With deepest apologies to Robert Duvall in "Apocalypse Now," I love the sound of kitty litter crunching beneath my feet in the morning. It means I have a new cat.
Yes, I waited all of 11 lonely days. Eleven days when waking up in the morning was a time of sadness as I missed my morning cuddle with my old cat Beau. Eleven days when laughter was missing from my home. Eleven days where the house was kitty- litter free, which seemed like a good thing, except the negatives far outweighed that single positive.
But that's all changed now. Litter digs into my bare feet when I go into our shared bathroom. And I don't care one bit.
Disemboweled toy mice now decorate the living room (and every other room), where they serve as feline hockey pucks on my hardwood floors. I watch where I step now, because you never know what's going to be beneath your foot unexpectedly. My guest bedroom is filled with things that need protecting: dried flower arrangements that are confused with toys, a fragile glass bowl that really isn't meant for kitty butts, a pillow with buttons too tempting for chewing.
It's been 24 years since I've had a young kitty. Beau and his sister, Bella, were rescued when they were 5, so I missed their kitty years. Their predecessor, Daphne du Maurier, was 15 when she died. She had followed the long-lived Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. (My mother wants a role naming the new kitty, saying my literary-based names are too pretentious. All we do so far is veto each other's suggestions.)
The Choosing took place last Saturday at the PetSmart on West Charleston Boulevard near Hualapai Way.
Best Friends Animal Society had 20 cats available. The Utah-based organization known for its rescue of animals in Hurricane Katrina recently rescued 600 cats from the horrible conditions at the FLOCK cat shelter in Pahrump. Only 80 of the 600 cats have found homes. For more information on these rescues, check www.bestfriends.org.
Don't assume I did The Choosing.
Hillevi Dodson-Diefenbach, a Best Friends volunteer and Las Vegas real estate appraiser, did the choosing. When Hillevi asked what I was looking for, I said a 6-month-old male. This woman knew her product. She grabbed a kitty from a cage and thrust him in my arms.
The slate gray 5-month-old kitty with a white tuxedo chest and underbelly knew how to close the deal. First he purred like mad. Then he started bathing in my lap, demonstrating friendliness and fastidiousness.
Now there were plenty of other kitties in the 6-month-old range, and even an adult calico to consider. But while I'm normally a comparison shopper, this time I didn't want to be faced with Sophie's Choice -- which one to save, which one to let go.
The one little fella I held in my arms that day is now home with me.
Sunday morning, I woke up with his head on my shoulder. Apparently neither of us is going to play hard to get.
When he hides, I find myself looking at the places where Beau used to hide, but those aren't the newbie's hiding places. Most of the time, he's right by my side. Right now he's napping in a box with court documents.
After the death of a family friend and Beau, I wrote about the poem "Death Is Nothing At All," and more than 100 readers contacted me about getting the little blue book. I had no idea local bookstores couldn't order it. However, the book is available from Amazon.com. If you have computer access, you can also print out the poem.
Many readers shared their own heart-wrenching losses, both human and pet. In a way, it was uplifting to be reminded of the human capacity to love so deeply.
Karen Joy Fowler's novel "The Jane Austen Book Club" ends with a quote from Austen: "The mere habit of learning to love is the thing."
I am learning to love another kitty. And the as-yet-unnamed kitty that didn't have a home one week ago has taken over mine and made it his.
Jane Ann Morrison's column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call 383-0275.