Howard is the oldest, and first adopted of the quirky quartet of cats; he’s the second oldest fur kid. He will turn six in July. I adopted Howard from the local animal shelter when he was about seven months old. I thought my cat at the time (who has since decided that life is much better being my parents’ cat) needed a feline companion. My intention was to get a cat around two or three years old. Then I saw Howard.
He literally bounced to the front of his cage with this “Hi, nice to meet you! Let’s play!” expression on his face, and I fell hard and fast. During our time in the meet and greet room he climbed my leg and chewed on my jewelry. He was such a funny, playful little guy. The shelter (rightfully) required Howard to be neutered before I could leave with him, and due to scheduling issues with the clinic there, I had to wait about four days before I could take him home. During that time Howard developed a severe upper respiratory infection. The shelter offered to let me choose another cat, but I couldn’t do that. I had promised Howard a home, and he was going to come home with me. On my veterinarian’s advice I took my other cat to my parents’ house so that he wouldn’t be exposed (I think this is when the seeds of his plan to defect were sown), and brought Howard home.
Howard’s condition rapidly deteriorated; he wouldn’t eat or drink, he didn’t play, he just slept. There was no sign of the playful little kitten I had met at the shelter. Within less than 24 hours we were back at the clinic. They kept him for another four days during which time he was quarantined, given fluids, force fed, and put on various medications. They allowed me to bring him a t-shirt from home, on the condition that I understood I wouldn’t be getting it back, and they also allowed me to come visit him for about 15 minutes every day.
I was finally able to bring, and keep, Howard home, where he quickly returned to the energetic, playful kitten I first met.
Howard’s first year with me was an interesting one; he swallowed an earring and had to have emergency surgery to remove it, he ripped out two of the staples from that surgery, resulting in another emergency trip to the vet, and he got into literally everything. I would come home from work to find dry pasta scattered around the house or Howard with a blue mouth from finding and eating my pixie stick stash. Life was always interesting.
Howard has calmed down quite a bit over the years. He still loves to play with his toys, and loves all of his siblings, and pretty much anyone else he comes into contact with. Howard is the most easy going and personable cat I have ever known. I have never, ever heard him hiss or growl. We’re not sure if he even knows how. He has greeted every new fur kid like they’re his long lost best friend. He’s happy to see everyone who comes to our house, and he’s not afraid of anything. When friends or family bring their pets to our home Howard is just happy to meet one more friend. He doesn’t even protest going in his carrier or going to the vet.
If there are any life lessons to be learned from my big orange guy it’s to always give someone new a chance, and go through life happy. Of course, it’s impossible to be Howard’s mom and not smile some every day.