Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hello, Helo! Meet the Cat that Reddit Gave Me

One of the many difficult aspects of my breakup in early 2014 was leaving my cat behind. It didn't make sense for me to take President Thomas J. Whitmore with me to D.C., knowing that I'd be living in the apartment equivalent of a shoebox, when he had so much space to roam at our place in New Jersey.

So Whitmore stayed in the Garden State, & I went to the capital, but I confess that I miss him even still, almost two years later. I've even been known to tear up when I think back on my time with him, much to the amusement/confusion/disgust of some of my anti-cat friends. I know Whitmore is happy & healthy in New Jersey, being taken care of by people who love him as much as I did, & certainly he has forgotten about me by now. Yet for some reason, I'd been struggling to do the same.

Obviously, a new cat sounded like just the ticket for moving forward.

My new apartment is just blocks away from the Cleveland Animal Protective League, & I had originally planned to go there to decide which of their dozens of orphaned cats was my perfect match. But then my friend Lindsey found a post on Reddit by a girl in my neighborhood - just three blocks away! - who recently found a stray cat on the highway, so malnourished they'd originally thought he was a kitten. Now that he was healthy again, she was looking for a forever-home for him.

Uhhh, sold.

Just like when I found my apartment online, I looked at the pictures of this cat & knew I wanted him. One night earlier this month, I went over to the Redditor's house for a quick visit, which only solidified my decision: This cat was comin' home with me. His foster owner agreed to keep him for another week while I was on vacation, & the day I got home, I went to get him.

She'd been calling him Chase, because she'd had to chase him down to rescue him. Chase is a cute name & all, but I'm big on naming my cats after TV & movie characters, & I wanted this little guy to follow in that storied personal tradition. I first thought I wanted to name him Omar, after Omar Little of The Wire & Omar Vizquel of the 1990s Cleveland Indians, but when I finally got him home, he just didn't feel like an Omar.

I brainstormed for all of 36 hours before deciding on a name: Helo, after a sleeper favorite from Battlestar Galactica. There are other BSG characters I like more, but somehow, Helo seemed liked the perfect name - & so Helo he is.

Things are going well so far, most of the time, except at 6a.m., when Helo is basically a tiny furry terrorist who meow-screams for food & hates when I close the bathroom door because it means he can't lay underneath my claw-foot tub. The rest of the time, he's adorable & cuddly & soft & perfect, following me around the apartment & headbutting me for forced petting & just generally being insufferably cute.

In other words? He is exactly what I needed to make my apartment feel like home.

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