I adopted my calico cat, Blaze, when she was 8 weeks old, and I had just left a failed love affair and was living alone – again! — on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Blaze was a beauty – a collage of white, orange and brown fur, with a “blaze” of color fanning out from her green eyes. She needed a home; I needed a friend; it seemed like a win-win situation.
I worked a newspaper job at the time, and left little Blaze alone for 9 hours each day. Hey, a gal’s gotta work, I reasoned. And since cats are supposed to keep their own counsel, I figured she’d sleep all day and welcome me with open paws at night.
But when I returned each evening, Blaze displayed all the symptoms of a lonely cat.
• She meowed incessantly, and I’d carry her around in my shirt all night, because she wouldn’t leave my side.
• She coughed up huge hairballs because she obsessively groomed herself when I was gone.
• She didn’t touch her food until I finally showed up, when she ate like it was her last meal.
• Occasionally, she ripped a throw pillow to shreds.
Clearly, Blaze needed a friend, someone to pal around with until I returned from work. So when Blaze was 6 months old, I brought home Fonzy cat, a 10-week old, pitch-black fuzzball with a tough little face and a happy personality.
Blaze hated Fonzy from the moment he pranced into that one-bedroom condo. She hissed, she stalked, she pounced and grabbed Fonzy in her paws and roughly licked his face – the cat equivalent of a wet willy.
My lonely cat became a pissed off cat. Not only did Blaze hate Fonzy, she wasn’t too happy with me, either. If Fonzy hopped on my lap, Blaze lept off. If I rubbed Fonzy’s belly, Blaze sulked under my bed until she got a chance to pounce Fonzy.
I now realize I made poor decisions that hurt Blaze and Fonzy. And I’m sharing my story, so you don’t make the same mistakes. Here’s what I should have done to help Blaze feel better in my absence.
• Provide more stimulating toys to keep Blaze better entertained, something that moved, like one of those long feathers on a stand.
• Add a window perch so Blaze could have looked out on city life, more entertaining than staring at the same four walls.
• Rotated toys, so some would seem new and more interesting again.
• Placed food in a food-dispensing toy, so Blaze could work for a meal.
• Paid a cat sitter to keep my cat company. Hey, people do that.
And, if I really wanted another cat, I should have introduced Fonzy slowly, maybe fostered him for a few days to see if the couple was a match.
Blaze tortured Fonzy for years, until he outweighed her by 5 pounds. By then, I had met the man I would marry, who owned an adorable cocker spaniel that both cats could hate together: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.