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.