Eight and a half years ago, my husband and I adopted this adorable kitten. We named her Pearl. Pearl Fuzzbaum.
The woman from whom we adopted Pearl had named her Oompah, because the vet believed she was destined to be large. We laughed at this detail, because, come on, LOOK at that little kitten! How could she ever be anything but a sweet wisp o’ fluff?
Well. This is what Pearl looks like now.
She’s still adorable…there’s just more of her. Eighteen pounds, to be exact. And it’s not a jellified eighteen pounds. This girl is SOLID. If she were human, she’d be an Olympic weightlifter.
While those in Pearl’s general vicinity can’t resist wanting to pick her up and squeeze her and nuzzle-num-num her thick, soft fur, they soon learn that affection is the last thing on this cat’s mind, particularly from strangers. Her response to attention, often even from her own doting, adoptive parents, is a low, constant, hybrid moan-growl. And consider yourself lucky you’re not responsible for delivering mail to our house; every day, Pearl waits by the front window for the mail carrier’s arrival, hoping this might be the day she can finally dispense with him. In Pearl’s walnut-sized brain, our house is her territory, and she was born to be the one force of nature to stop the USPS from violating that territory.
We can’t help but feel partly responsible for Pearl’s “personality issues,” as we believe she has never forgiven us for adopting another cat one year after she joined us. This other cat, a sassy, hyper lovebug named Sugar (aka “Shoogie”), not only encroached on Pearl’s territory; she also gave her “big sis” a gift that keeps on giving: feline herpes, inherited from what turned out to be a less-than-reputable animal shelter. In Pearl’s case, the herpes manifests itself as conjunctivitis whenever she’s really stressed out or put out, so she has reason to be disgruntled. We’ve spent the past eight years trying to make it up to her, to no avail; as it turns out, everything about Pearl is big, including her grudges.
What does this fuzzy curmudgeon give us? Endless, endless delight. We feel we not only have a pet, we have a true character in our midst, as well as a mighty protector. And we’ll keep trying to show her our love and appreciation, for as long as she’ll (dis)allow us.