We are just past the anniversary of the day in 2011 when Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite saw a photo of Giuseppe’s handsome face and her human caretaker disclosed, “Miss Daisy is smitten!” Though Miss Daisy was eleven years old and Giuseppe only four years old, they began a correspondence with her as a “secret admirer” then began their regular florid correspondence as their two hearts communicated through the air and through the magic message machine (when their humans were capable of translating their expressions and sighs) until April this year when Mlle., at age 18, finally succumbed to nine years of battling diabetes.
But battling diabetes was not the only thing that defined the elegant housepanther. We have also just passed the anniversary of her homecoming, adopted at age one by Denise from the Toronto Humane Society, a talkative, affectionate, playful and compassionate kitty who would see Denise through many years of change.
Her loss left Denise with no kitties at all in her apartment in Hamilton, Ontario, and Denise couldn’t bear the thought of not sharing her home with feline grace and beauty. Cats are in need everywhere and many were tempting, but a respectful waiting period was needed before any choice could be made. After looking into a few other cats through online sites her mind was made up to rescue an older kitty or two.
“About a week after Mlle. passed I took her insulin and syringes to the vet to give to an elderly woman for her old ginger diabetic boy,” Denise said. “While there I was chatting with Mlle.’s wonderful vet and the office manager for the clinic and mentioned that ‘down the road’ I would be interested in adopting a special needs senior or a bonded pair of seniors because often the vet hears of seniors who need to be rehomed or rescued.”
The office manager’s ears perked up and she mentioned a relative’s two senior bonded Siamese siblings. It turned out she was concerned about all the cats in the house as well as the relative, and she especially wanted to take those two out of the house and find a safe, quiet and loving home for them. “She told me about Siead and Harlow…declawed, how they live in a house FULL of many cats, including a gang of fierce ferals led by a 20 lb. tabby named Dapheena!!!” she related. Dapheena and her gang had picked out Harlow, the female, to be their prey. If she tried to get to her litter or to food the ferals would attack her. Thus for the last three years Harlow had hidden under a bed in a dark room, with newspaper sprinkled with litter and a dish of food pushed under when the rather wacky human remembered.
“All the while Siead stayed with his sister…he was being abused by the son of the human…picked up and slapped in the face,” Denise said. “He became her protector, while terrified for his own safety.”
So the office manager set to pull this pair out of the home…cat hoarding and absolute chaos night and day according to Denise. “Siead was the first to be ‘caught’ and carried to the vet for a full work up, but it required six days to pull the terrified Harlow out from under the bed!”
Siead had been transported to Denise’s home, and then “Harlow had her vet visit and was brought, trembling, to our home. The moment she was let out of the carrier she ran to Siead who spent those three weeks under the cabinet calming and loving her.”
Denise didn’t know the details of their former home or condition until after they had both arrived at her home. “I suppose she thought I would not take them. But of course…. me taking them was urgent and unquestionable!” Denise said. “I was simply told they needed a quiet safe place away from the chaos and the hoarding (stuff and cats). I have sat here on several occasions and just cried for these little souls. But now, their lives are turning around and they have a whole new world. They are 8 years old… or that is what I am told.”
Both cats were given new names, their “freedom names”: Siead was named “Toussaint” and Harlow was named “Fleurette”. In their safe and quiet and clean apartment Denise served them their turkey pate from Royal Albert bowls wherever and whenever they wanted to eat, and gave them as much physical and emotional space as they needed.
Toussaint warmed up first. It was clear he wasn’t as traumatized as his sister, but he kept his distance in the beginning. After a day or two Denise heard a soft Siamese meow, kind of faded like Toussaint’s blue eyes when he looked up at her to tell her his food dish was empty.
“When she first arrived Fleurette spent the first two weeks under the cabinet with her face pushed into the corner!” Denise said. “She would only come out to use her litter after the lights had gone off in the house. I would slide her saucer in under the cabinet, near to her, and then just leave her be. When I checked back, she was still facing the corner, stiff and obviously terrifed, but her dish was empty.” Toussaint spent much time under the cabinet with Fleurette, watching as she ate her portion, just being a steady presence for his sister, and possibly whispurring to her that she need not be so frightened.
Just a few days after she’d arrived Fleurette was lost, but had only found a smaller safe space in a very tiny spot behind the stove with her steadfast brother tucked in there to calm her. That access was blocked and she ended up back in her favorite space.
“I make sure she is comfy and has her favourite food,” Denise said. “I do not ‘expect’ her to act like Toussaint.
“Now she likes me to hold her dish when she eats and takes treats easily from my hand. She is beginning to enjoy petting and chin rubs. I am waiting to be able to brush her… she needs a good brushing, but not yet. Toussaint LOVES his daily grooming!”
Denise keeps their space quiet and calm, and though Toussaint quickly learned to love his brushing and sitting with his human, Denise let them make the decisions, including when guests arrived. “No one here is going to rush them. It seems that Fleurette is the one who is terrifed by strangers. She hides and her brother who has been her protector for so long then joins her, lying down beside her, hiding her from the stranger. It is near impossible to imagine what horrors these sweet little cats have experienced,” she said. Even when it is only Denise and her husband Toussaint is out and about, on her lap and confident, Petite Fleur is nervous and timid, even with Denise. “But each day she trusts a little more. The difference in her today as compared to a month ago is huge. She has all the love and time it will take for her to know she is safe and ‘home’ at last.”
They have been in their new home five or six weeks and Denise said the transformation is wonderful and beautiful. “Toussaint is the sweetest boy, and all he wants is to climb and lie on his new Mom. Fleurette began venturing out, getting to know her new home and enjoying her toys, catnip, treats and good food served in the Royal Albert bowl. If you saw them here, being home and safe and loved, your heart would swell.” No more hiding beneath the china cabinet.
“I doubt she would have made it without her wonderful brother looking after her. They are so bonded, it is sweet. She follows him into the bedroom at bedtime. He jumps on up and climbs in. She sleeps on the red brocade bed I have set beside the bed, on my side, for her. In the morning, if I am late rising and Toussaint has already left the bed, they come in again together when they hear stirring. Toussaint is always in the lead with Fleurette following. And he is considerably larger than her. When he arrived he was skin and bones. I could see his spine under his thick fur. Now, he is looking quite healthy and very handsome. He is the new man in my life,” Denise laughed.
Though Petite Fleur has recently been exploring every nook and cranny in her new home, her favorite spot is still the dining chair beside Denise’s. Denise placed a little blanket on the chair which she had re-uphostered with old silk draperies, “slippery for a kitty with no claws,” and talks to her and offers her treats, but respects her private safe space. Denise wants her to learn that no one will do anything to frighten or hurt her, that she now is safe and knows no one will harm her. “She must know that because she sashays all round the apartment and is beginning to talk to us,” Denise said. “She has a very ‘typical’ Siamese meowwwwww, Toussaint has a high pitched little squeak! So sweet.”
“I think these babies are just unable to believe that they are now treated as they are. Sometimes Toussaint just sits and stares at me with those blue eyes…and he looks as if he is trying to understand what has happened to him and his little sister,” Denise said.
We spoke this week on the anniversary of Mlle.’s adoption all those years ago. “Mlle. is always going to be with me. She was the most wonderful sweet little soul. And she made way for this pair,” Denise said. “This is my first experience with abused cats…I would do it again in the blink of an eye.”
“I am so in love with both Toussaint and Petite Fleur,” she said. “And now I am being called by that little Siamese meow — seems Toussaint’s saucer is empty!”
Then Denise messaged this morning with new, trusting behavior from Fleurette. “Petite Fleur, following me, step by step, around the apartment. When I stop she lies down in front of me, looks up with those blue eyes and asks for tummy rubs, ear rubs, any kind of tender touch. This is truly a blessing. Mastering the art of two handed cat stroking of two cats at once!” Denise exclaimed. “This is a breakthrough with Petite Fleur this morning. Seems she woke up today just wanting to be loved.”
A happily ever after for two cats and at least one person.
Read about Mlle. Daisy Emerald and the long-distance affaire between the mature French-Canadian feline lady and the young American opera star.
They so enjoy writing florid Victorian-style letters to each other, sometimes the poets, sometimes the artists, sometimes the bonneted Mlle. Daisy Emerald and the beplumed Giuseppe Verdi in their Revolutionary roles.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!