Not Minneapolis and St. Paul, but Ziggy and Spider
To become a Gator, my menagerie and myself moved to Gainesville.
In July of 2009, only two months after we had moved to Gainesville my landlord had signed on to have the ancient plumbing in our 1940-something house completely renovated. This meant loud construction with jackhammers and drilling, lots of foot traffic of plumbers in and out of the house and an overall heightened state of chaos in the house for weeks.
Ziggy couldn't take the heat. He'd been removed from his oasis, brought to a house with a goofy-looking boxer, Rocky, with a bulging eye, a floppy tongue and another 100 pounds of love and another cat, Sim-B, a real straight G who was friendly, but in a less than obvious way toward Ziggy. The plumbing chaos, which went all the way under the house was no help.
Sir Zigfried hit the road. Broke my heart, devastated me. He disappeared with no trace.
I didn't immediately give up on my now 5-year-old feline first born. I began searching with hopes that he was near by and safe. I had nightmares that he wasn't. I made the classic LOST CAT signs and stapled them up for a mile on both sides of my street. I posted a LOST CAT add on craigslist. I called the local animal shelters. No Ziggy.
A few days after my initial craigslist post, which was put on the Internet about a week and a half after Ziggy went missing, a concerned man contacted me to let me know that, according to my description, he was almost positive my Sir Zigfried was at the Alachua County Animal Services. He said he'd rescued the cat on Williston after he witnessed a tabby cat that was in tow with "my" cat get hit by a car. Immediately apprehension sat in. Could Ziggy really have made it all the way over to Williston from NW 21st Ave? Would he have already found a cat mate?
Yes, it's possible. Maybe he ended up in the plumbers truck, which was left open in the front yard for days, and escaped as soon as he could practically a million miles away from home. Maybe that cat helped him get the far. I went to the Alachua County Animal Services to find out.
This cat, identical to Ziggy, weighed at LEAST 10 pounds less than what I was accustomed to sporting in my lap. He had a white belly, white paws, a white chin and a black body. 007 tuxedo-style. Again, I immediately felt apprehensive. Did Ziggy loose all this weight because he's been estranged and out in the wild? Did he loose all his weight travelling all the way over to Williston?
"How long do you keep cats until you euthanize?" I asked.
3 days. This guy's time was up. It was now or never. Let Might-Be-Ziggy die or rescue Might-Be-Not-Ziggy.
I said he was Ziggy. I didn't feel he was Ziggy, but I said he was Ziggy. Regardless, at this point, I missed my kitty so bad, how could having an identical cat hurt? Fill the void, right?
The lady at the front desk asked me for his veterinarian information so she could verify that he was up to date on his shots. I paid for a rabies shot he got upon entry to the shelter and also another $35 for a "reclaim fee." I guess the first tier of fiscal punishment for letting your cat roam the streets because it warns you round two is a bit more steep. Either way, I felt good about taking the Might-Be-Ziggy home.
Within hours of having Might-Be-Ziggy in our home I knew undeniably he was a different cat. I liked him though. He was especially needy when he first came to live with us, a very touchy feely, meow-in-your-face kind of cat. He fit in well with the menagerie and forged his own rank among the fleet. I named him Spider because he's real creepy. He's skinny and creeps around, licks a lot and meows at you with direct eye contact. He claimed my room as his turf and became part of the family.
In December, 6 months after Ziggy disappeared and Spider came to live with us, I hear a growl on the back porch. Spidey's hair sticks straight up, he pounces from his post on my lap. Within minutes, my roommate comes to my door and says, "Randy, I think we found Zig."
6 MONTHS later, Zig-a-fwig was home. He was fatter than ever, flea-free and soft and kushy. I started crying because this meant all those horrible nightmares were just that and someone had been keeping him safe and well for so long. Spider was estranged from my room, taking up his new turf in the kitchen, but overall my menagerie is in tact and well. My twin kitties look slick together, 007 style.