"I know," he replied, resigned to the probable mayhem that would result from our decision.
We were driving home from the shelter where we had spent three hours adopting Ray's new family members; Tiny Tim and Josette, two young cats, a male and female, both under a year old. I had spent weeks discussing with whomever would listen, whether young cats or old would be better for the exuberantly-cat-loving blind hound, but in the end Gregg and I went with our gut feeling that a couple of youngsters would be more adaptable. They were in the back seat, the mesh parts of their cages touching so that they could see and smell each other.
As we drove home, we discussed names for Ray's new siblings. Harvey was quickly decided on for the boy, a four-month old, feisty little black and white fellow whose rap sheet had said he "liked to play with the dog." We had no idea if the played-with dog was a three pound Yorkie or a hundred pound Lab but we were agreed that some exposure to dogs was better than none at all.
The girl-cat's name didn't come as easily, and although lots of names were tossed around, nothing seemed right for the teeny-tiny seven-month-old calico we had both fallen for. Despite the description on her cage as "timid but warms up fast," we had both been charmed by her purr-upon-touch reaction to us. We had no idea how either of them would react to Ray but we were determined to find out.
"Let's leave them in the car while we get set up," I said as we pulled into the driveway.
Although I had wanted to mainstream the cats into the family, they were both skittish enough that a safe-room for a week or so seemed a better idea.
"Do we have everything we need?" asked Gregg as he got out of the car.
"Well, we have litter and beds," I replied, "And the shelter gave us a bag of food. I think we have enough of everything to get us through the night."
Ray met us at the door, glad to see us after such a long absence, and anxious for his dinner. As he sniffed the interesting scents on my pants, Gregg went upstairs to drag the cat-tree into the freshly painted and redecorated guest room. Trailed by my loyal, hungry hound, I headed to the garage to retrieve the litter boxes from the attic. By the time I made it upstairs, Gregg was wrestling the cat tree into place. Not knowing if our new family members were totally litter trained, I rolled up the area rug and dragged it out of the room.
Feeling that something momentous was happening, but not entirely sure what, Ray anxiously followed me from room to room. By the time Gregg had filled the litter boxes with sand, dug out Moonie and Hugo's old food dishes and filled them with the gifted food, Ray was on high alert. I draped a sheet across the top of the bed, strategically placed cat beds around the room, dropped Ray's dog bed on the floor to get the cats used to his smell, and threw in a couple of our smelly sweatshirts to get them used to our aroma as well. Lastly, I tucked a fleecy throw into the hole at the bottom of the cat tree thinking it would make a comfy bed and a nice hiding place for skittish kitties.
I looked around. We were ready. The guest room had reverted to a cat room in no time flat.
"Why don't you bring in the cats," I said to Gregg, "I'll feed Ray to distract him."
Ray followed me into the kitchen. While I made as much noise as possible putting food into Ray's metal dish, Gregg snuck the cat carriers upstairs.
I watched Ray as he looked over his shoulder at the minor noise that Gregg made as he crept up the stairs with the cats, but the dog made no move to follow. I waited until Ray finished eating then ran up the stairs followed, of course, by the hound.
I entered the room and closed the door in front of the inquisitive dog's nose.
Both of the cat carriers were open. Harvey was crouched under the bed, the little calico was cringing at the back of her cage. I reached a hand in; the little girl cat put her head on my hand and started purring, then rolled over and still purring, grabbed my hand with her paws and held it on her head.
There was a vigorous scratch at the door. I left the purring bundle of joy, opened the door, and using my knee as a blockade, crouched down with my arm around Ray's neck.
Ears deployed in ultra Dumbo mode, but not struggling to get by as I expected, Ray breathed in the new-cat smell of the room.
Ignoring the dog totally, Harvey started exploring, found the food dish, and tucked in with gusto.
I pulled Ray back, then Gregg, Ray, and I left the cats to get used to the room and to each other.
As we checked in throughout the evening, we found that the little calico had moved from her cage to the farthest reaches of under-the-bed. Trying to entice her out of seclusion, I found the stash of cat toys left behind by our dear departed friends and scattered them around the room. Harvey immediately started playing batting things hither and thither. The other little cat remained where she was. And there she stayed.
When we went to bed, despite all of the soft cosy places to sleep in the room, our furry new little girl stayed inaccessibly under the bed on the hardwood floor.
…to be continued