Sunday November 25, 2012
Both Matt and I are totally animal people and when we lost our greyhound Mazzii (short for Maserati) back in April of 2011 due to cancer it was very hard for us to deal with. She was always on the boat with us every weekend and when she was gone it just felt so empty without her. There’s no way that she could ever be replaced in our hearts, but the need and want for a furry little companion was still there. We’ve heard and read from many other cruisers that cats make great boat pets because they are comfortable living in smaller spaces and since there’s no need for them to get off the boat they’re much easier to care for while traveling. Not that there aren’t just as many people out there with dogs, but a cat just seemed like a responsibility we could handle. Before leaving I bugged Matt incesently about getting one. When he asked what I wanted for my 30th birthday my response was always “A boat cat”. He’d confirm that yes, an animal companion would be nice to have and yes, a cat would require less work than a dog, but the fact that he grew up with dogs and had always been a dog person kept him hesitating, maybe later. Luckily for me, two boats in our buddy armada have cats and after hearing stories of how great they are to travel with and having these cuddly critters forced on him on multiple occassions he finally broke down and said we could look at getting one.
Hearing from Anthyllide that there was an adoption center right in St. Mary’s where we were staying we walked out to the offices on Friday to inquire about looking at the cats. Finding the actual office was closed we had been told the husband of the shelter had his office right night door and after talking to him and giving our information he said his wife would be in contact with us. We stressed the fact that we were only in town visiting and wanted the cat before the next workweek began so it was a pleasant surprise when we heard from his wife, Terra, first thing the next morning. The shelter that housed the cats was a few miles from the waterfront and she scheduled an appointment for us to come out that afternoon. After being very surprised about hearing that we lived on a boat and this would be the cat’s home as well. I figured with this being such a big cruising community it would be common for her to hear this but maybe adopters fear this question and get their kitties while they still have a land based address. Either way she still agreed to let us come.
Neither of us had an idea of what to expect since back when we adopted Mazzii there was a whole process where they brought the dog to the house for a visit, and after certifying that we were capable pet owners there was a background check and a slew of paperwork. If you ‘passed’ the dog was brought back at a later date. Matt was thinking this would be similar and wanted to make the trip out to the shelter on foot. I kept thinking ‘What if they give us the cat today? How are we going to get her back on foot? (it was always going to be a girl) We don’t have any supplies back on the boat’. Teaming up with Kim we got a hold of a SUV for the afternoon and with six of us stuffed into it we drove off to hopefully be returning with a seventh member. Locating the place based solely on verbal directions from that morning we entered the gates and were greeted by a few dogs wandering the property. Sitting off to the side of the main house was another building and on the front railing an orange tabby was poking it’s head out of a cardboard box. We all swarmed to it and while the girls cuddled and cooed Matt was standing back probably thinking ‘Ahhh crap, we’re going to be leaving here with a cat’.
Shortly after, an assistant came by to lead us into the building and began asking questions on what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a female and a kitten young enough that it could easily adapt to life on a boat. Walking through the hallway there were stacks of beds and scratch pads all full of full grown cats looking for a little attention and love. We had found out from the husband the day before that this is a no kill shelter so they were currently housing 209 cats!! That is a lot of cats looking for love! We also had heard from him that there is a full time staff of three people that regularly take the cats out and play with them so it was nice to hear they weren’t shut away and ignored. Being led into the room of young cats it was so hard not to pick up every one and say “I’ll take this one, and this one, and this one”. Some were roaming free and others were in cages but the woman started opening all the doors to let them jump out and play. Matt had the idea that he wanted a white cat or one with white in it since he thought they were pretty, and sitting in a cage were two mixed color cats with white in them. Of the two one was male so he was out, but opening the door I scooped up the female to find her quickly jumping out of my arms and onto the counter. Picking her up a second time she did the same thing.
While I was trying a third time to grab her a few other kitties tried to come in and fill the space this one was leaving open by cuddling and purring and trying to get their faces, bodies, and tails anywhere our hands were moving. These super social cats were a little older than we were looking for but Kim was there to scoop one up give it a little love while we kept looking. In the smaller range (5-7 mo) was a litter of domestic black striped/tiger cats (?). One of the females (I can’t remember her name so I’ll call her Dylan) was also very interested in being pet. After playing with her for a few minutes on the counter I tried scooping her up as well to see how she liked being handled. I couldn’t keep her in my arms very long as at first chance she’d crawl up my shoulder and on my back. I was very fond of her though and as we paraded around to all the other cats in the complex she stayed attached to me the whole time. The other cats were cute but they were all either too big or too old, or even too young. 90% sure that I wanted Dylan I kept putting her on the table and picking her up to try and keep her in my arms, and each time she’d crawl up my shoulder. As we were getting to the point to make the decision, Dylan jumped off and scampered to another table. We went to search after her but she seems to have a twin in her litter and it made picking the right one difficult. With the help of the staff who know the cats much better, we found which one was Dylan and that her twin was Roxie. Thinking I had been carrying Roxie around the whole time though, the assistant raved about her personality, what a great cat she was….and while doing so was holding this cute little kitty in her arms without it trying to climb or run away. Split second decision between Dylan and Roxie I chose Roxie. The paperwork was filled out and even though they desperately tried to get us to adopt a second one as well (for no cost even) we had Roxie in a carrying case and ready to go.
Back in the car I looked at Matt and presumed “We’re not going to keep her name Roxie, are we?”. “Hmmmm,” he thought, “Probably not”. Not that Roxie was a bad name. We just have this thing where we like to name our pets. “What do you want to call her?” I probed, curious to see what he had in mind. “It’s your cat”, he retorted, “You pick a name”. So I went with a name that I had been saving for a child that he’d probably never agree to (Name or child? You’ll never know.) It’s something that’s fit for the Southern Belle of a kitty she is and specific to where we got her. Georgiana. Maserati, Georgiana…what kinds of yuppy names do we give our pets? But we’ll be calling her Georgie for short so any new cruisers that meet her along the way won’t know how stuck up we really are. Georgie took the car ride back very well and even accompanied us in to a quick trip into the pet store where we picked up food, bowls, a collar, toys, and treats. When we got her back to the boat she was eager to explore and even more eager to cuddle. She does this thing that we’ve started to call dive-bomb cuddling where she’ll lunge her head really hard at your hand or neck or face to cuddle with you. She constantly wants to be on your lap and will purr like crazy any time you’re touching her. She wants to be around you so much that if you pick her off your lap and set her to your side she’ll come back again and again and again. I had to do work on the computer with her on me because she just wouldn’t go anywhere else.
So far we are loving the new addition to our crew although Matt did have a small breakdown when he tried to fit all her new belongings (litter box, litter, food) into our already cramped living space. It all worked out though and the love we’ve already received back from Georgie totally outweighs any negatives of space. She always wants to spend time with us, gets excited for guests, and has the cutest little meeew while looking up at you with big saucepan eyes. If you’re ever in southern Georgia or northern Florida I highly recommend going to For The Love of Pets and adopting one of their animals. We’re already trying to talk Rode Trip into going back and getting one as they’re now the only boat in our little armada without a cuddly little feline that brings so much joy. You hear me Brian? Go back and get one. Now!!
Entering the grounds for the shelter.
Sorry kitty, you’re just a little too old.
Georgie making herself right at home.
Couldn’t get rid of her if I tried.