Taffy, Our "Temporary" Cat

by Rhoda
(Saskatoon, SK, Canada)

My partner met Taffy in the spring of 2012, while at the vet clinic buying special food for our 18-year-old tabby, Merlin.

The clinic staff 'accidentally' led him past the boarding cages where he noticed her and said "what a pretty cat!" That was Taffy, a 12-year-old torbie-point Siamese mix that they were boarding for a local foster rescue group.

The clinic staffer hinted that she was looking for a new home, as her previous human, an elderly former client, had to go into a care home.

Taffy batted her violet blue eyes at him and wrapped him around her little dewclaw. He brought me to see her and we just had to see if she'd be a good match for our household. We mentioned that our only concern was for our old boy, whether she'd get along with him or not. So they signed us up to foster her and eventually we adopted her.

We thought "an older cat, she'll be a nice sedate companion to Merlin". She had other ideas. The minute I opened the spare bedroom door to put her in for her acclimation period, she raced around the house, bouncing off windows and walls, exploring her new space. She was gentle enough to Merlin, although I don't think he appreciated her washing his forehead all the time.

Our tiny townhouse yard has a high fence, and up until then we'd never had to worry about our cat climbing it. She scaled a post the first time out and I glanced to see her trotting down the row of fences. Oops. I ran down to the far end of the parking lot and plucked her off the last fence as she arrived.

Eventually my partner cat-proofed the fence by putting a plant bracket on each post and stringing galvanized drywall corner bead between the brackets so that she could enjoy the backyard without fear of her wandering off.

Okay, how about a harness and lead? She took to it almost immediately, and we later found out that her previous human had put her in a harness to sit out on her apartment balcony with her. From then on she demanded several walks a day in summer, and would sit down by the front door and yell at us until we complied.

The walks got longer and longer and we became known as that eccentric couple that walked their cat around the neighbourhood. Once in a while she'd scamper up a tree trunk, just for the fun of it, with me hanging onto the leash and trying to convince her to come down again. She made friends with two neighbourhood dogs, touching noses with them when we met up with their owners. Her previous human's daughter requested photo updates from time to time, so we'd pass them on through the vet clinic.

Merlin passed away just short of age 19, and a while later we acquired Saxon, a blue point Siamese, from another foster rescue. He was another bold inquisitive outgoing cat, so Taffy put him in his place and then taught him to catch mice at the base of the composter. She turned out to be an expert mouser!

She sadly succumbed to Cushing's disease at age 14, a bit over two years after we first met her, having been on steroids for an immune condition for years. Although we only had her a short time, we still think about her as we travel down nearby streets and remember all the adventures that she packed into that short space of time.

Reply from Caroline:

Rhoda, thank you so much for your lovely story. Taffy really was a very beautiful cat and I'm sorry you didn't have her for longer. I'm sure you gave her a very happy home in her final years.

Your story about the fencing is a great reminder that younger cats are often stronger and more agile than the 'oldies', and that bringing a new cat into the household is a great opportunity to make sure that boundaries are maintained!

I'm glad she enjoyed the harness and lead - in Bandit's later years I also walked him in a harness and, I suspect, was viewed as equally eccentric by our neighbors! But it's a great way for cats to get some outdoor exercise safely.

I'm very glad she found you!

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