Crossing the Line

By Julie, hopeful that spring may be here to stay in Somerville

Fred & GingerA few weeks ago I got an email from a friend who is part of a cat rescue network. She was reaching out to folks about some cats who had been rescued from an abandoned house in Hartford. The cats were FIV positive, and they were having trouble finding them homes.

“Do you know anyone who is looking for a cat? Are you ready?”

I’ve had three cats in my adult life, loved them well, and mourned them when they’d gone to the Rainbow Bridge. It had a bit over a year since I’d  been a cat’s person when I got Kim’s email, and I wrote to another friend, asking about the FIV. She assured me that they would be fine for a long time, may have some issues when they were older. She also told me that placing FIV positive cats was almost impossible. I wrote Kim back and said yes, I’d take two of them. I connected with the rescue person who was boarding them, and on a rainy afternoon I picked them up.

I named them Fred and Ginger. They are two or three years old, tops. Fred, a handsome gray tuxedo cat, is a sweetheart. He was already fixed when he was rescued, so he must have been dumped. He loves to be petted, and uses his paw to draw my hand back when I stop. Just this week he started jumping up on my bed in the morning. I suspect that before the end of the summer he will be sleeping on beds and couches. Maybe even laps, which will make writing tough, but I’ll manage. He is giving me some moves for my series cat, Bezel.

Ginger is lovely, a gray longish hair cat. She is also  a hot mess.  I don’t think she’s ever had a home before, and she has some trust issues, mildly put. For the first two weeks I couldn’t touch her. Then she started to talk to me, and about two weeks ago she started winding herself around my legs when I am in the kitchen. Still, I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into with Ginger. Would we ever connect?

ginger the destroyer2

Ginger the Destroyer

I got them each a cat bed, though Ginger still prefers a blanket on the floor. I bought two Feliway diffusers, hoping that cat pheromones would help relax them. (I have a three month supply.) I invested in cat toys and a nice cat litter box table thing that they like. I got them a cat scratcher that Ginger is especially fond of.  I have been using patience, my best cat voice, and lots of petting to make them feel at home.

But this weekend, Ginger pushed me over the line. I became a crazy cat lady.

Sundays are my writing/housekeeping/no makeup days. Book 3 is due in July, so writing was the main event on Sunday, with laundry, taking out the trash, litterbox cleaning, and sheet changing being done in between writing scenes. I live in a 4th floor walk-up, so taking the trash and recycling out is a balancing act of boxes and bags I only like to do once. Now, taking the trash downstairs was the only planned excursion out. My hair was piled on top of my head, Marge Simpson style. I had my PJ top on, with a sweatshirt cover-up. I had yoga pants on, no socks, clogs.

This past Sunday was wicked windy, and my door didn’t latch carefully. I came back upstairs to find my front door blown open. I walked in, and Fred gave me a “hey” meow. I asked him where Ginger was, and he didn’t respond. I looked around, but she wasn’t in the apartment. I went into full panic mode. I ran out of the apartment, down the stairs, calling her name. When I got to the second floor I saw one of my neighbors, and told her my plight. I heard Ginger’s meow from the floor below. I ran down the stairs. She saw me, did a fake run, and darted up the stairs behind me. I closed the fire door, and lumbered behind her. She ran up to the third floor, and ran down the hall. I closed that fire door, and followed her. She ran all the way to the end, and down the stairs back to the second floor. On and on it went until we were closed in on the second floor. She’d dart, I’d call her name, she’d stop, do a double fake, and run the other way.

atrestGinger barely let me pet her, never mind pick her up. Finally, after about twenty minutes of the chase, we were both panting, but she wasn’t giving up. So I took off my sweatshirt, and threw it on top of her. It took me two tries (running around in my PJ top mind you) but I was finally able to scoop her up. She fought me, but I got her by the scruff and got her back into the house.

I live a fairly controlled life, intentionally so. Fred and Ginger have disrupted that. They are different than the other cats I’ve adopted–they needed a good home, and don’t quite trust it yet. They  also don’t trust me yet, though I think Sunday proved something to Ginger. She’s on a kiss a day regimen now–I hold her for ten seconds, kiss her head, and then keep holding her until she’s done.

As a writer, I control my characters, and their lives. Fred and Ginger are teaching me to shake up expectations, and be comfortable with whatever happens. It will be interesting to see what their impact is on Book #3. If nothing else, the Bezel scenes will be a little more fleshed out.

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About J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series under the name Julianne Holmes. JUST KILLING TIME, the first in the series, was published in Oct 2015 and was nominated for a BEST FIRST NOVEL Agatha award. CLOCK AND DAGGER was released in August 2016. CHIME AND PUNISHMENT will be released in August 2017. Julie's Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017. A CHRISTMAS PERIL is the first in this series about an ex-cop who runs a theater company. wears two hats. Her short stories have been published by Level Best Books: “Tag, You’re Dead” in THIN ICE, “Her Wish” in DEAD CALM, and “The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t” in BLOOD MOON. Julie is an arts administrator and arts advocate. She tweets her writing life as @JHAuthors, and her other life as @JulieHennrikus. She is an avid theater goer and a member of Red Sox nation. Her website is jahennrikus.com, and she blogs with WickedCozyAuthors.com and KillerCharacters.com.

27 thoughts on “Crossing the Line

  1. They’re lovely. They’re not related, are they? We’ve always had at least one cat, and now three. The latest, Oliver, was a stray who had no clue about making it in the wild (he’d clearly been abandoned). Our neighbor cat Henry kind of adopted him to show him the ropes. Long story short: I persuaded Oliver that life inside with us was better than roaming. He and Henry still chat each morning (when I feed Henry–I figure it’s payback for looking out for Oliver).

  2. I love their names! My mother-in-law once had a dog named Ginger. She found a cat living in her yard and named him Fred. By the time winter arrived, Fred was living in the house. Ginger wasn’t too pleased. Good luck with your new “family.”

  3. Such pretty kitties! You will have to go some to beat my friend CW in the Crazy Cat Lady Olympics. She has 6. Some adopted through official channels, some strays. But there’s still plenty of time for you. CCLs aren’t born. They’re made. And I just have to say–at least you were wearing a pajama top under the sweatshirt. Otherwise, this takedown and capture would have been much more, uh, interesting 🙂

  4. Sorry, but I had to laugh a little at the image of you chancing Ginger around. So glad you got her home safely. It definitely sounds like they are warming up to their new home, and I hope it’s not too long before you are a happy family of three.

  5. Thanks for sharing with us. I must admit I had to laugh, but only with you! I have had to do this with dogs thru the years but never a cat and always when I really wasn’t dressed for the public! You are a wonderful person for taking them in and they will enrich your life and books!

  6. I knew I reached out to the right person. You have all the qualities that a cat like Ginger needs. Fred knows he has it good. Ginger was testing you. You passed. I never doubted you for a second. You my friend saved two lives and for that I am very grateful. xo

  7. So glad you took the two in! I seriously considered a FIV cat a few weeks ago but ended up adopting a 12 year old cat. I am at least her third owner and she is really beginning to open up to me in our third week. I’ve learned so much about patience and watchfulness! It’s a wonderful journey! Good luck with your two!

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