In 1999, like everyone else, I moved to San Francisco and got a job at a “dot-com” company. I was paid generously in stock options and would surely be a tens-of-thousands-aire in no time. My company was Petopia.com, the internet pet paradise. (Notice you’ve never heard of it.)
Unlike stuffy non-dot-com organizations, we had a dogs welcome policy and even had an impressive astroturf dog park in the office. One morning I was sent on an errand to the local SPCA to pick up a turtle habitat for the office. (Totally normal, right?)
This SPCA is unlike anything I had ever seen. Each cat and dog had his or her own apartment. What? You, mean cage. No, apartment. Large rooms furnished variably with bedroom, living room, even dining room furniture. The apartments were so nice, that during one particularly harsh winter storm the city housed the homeless there. (I don’t know what they did with the cats and dogs during this time. Or how they kicked the homeless people back out onto the streets in order to give the apartments back to homeless cats and dogs.)
While walking down the cat wing, I saw an apartment door was ajar. As I went to close it so the little kitty didn’t get lost, I saw the cat inside and decided I could spare a few minutes to go into her house and hang out. She was amazing. Orange long fur, demure, affectionate. I was smitten. Without thinking, or talking to my roommate or boyfriend (now husband) I adopted the cat.
I returned to work not with a turtle habitat, but with a cat. Again, totally normal. I was given an empty conference room to set the cat up for the rest of the day, and later brought her home to a surprised roommate and a reluctant boyfriend.
Fast forward a few plane rides, several apartments and houses, a couple of babies and countless tons of cat fur, and it brings us to today, when I put the cat to sleep. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made and I’m not sure it was the right one, but it’s done. I held her in my arms as she drifted away. It’s only been a couple of hours, but my house already feels emptier.