Many of you have followed the saga of how my snaggle-toothed, orange kitty named Oscar escaped from my apartment, was rescued through the efforts of people across the country, and recently passed from congestive heart failure.

None of the above begins to tell you what a goofy, loving, and devoted soul he was or how much I miss feeling his paw pat my cheek in the morning. That said, I realized about a month after he passed that I had a choice. I could continue to focus on death and loss or I could turn and focus on life and love. I could choose to remember and feel Oscar with me, or I could deny what I know to be true – love is never lost, just transformed.

And so I reluctantly made my way to the SPCA to visit with the many kitties available for adoption there. Don’t ever let anyone tell you cats don’t know what a person is feeling. Cat after cat spent time with me – purring, starring into my eyes, rubbing against my legs, and in one case patting me on the head. I was comforted, but I after three visits I still hadn’t met the kitty for me.

Then one of the volunteers took me into the back to see Atlas. A big, 15-lb tabby, Atlas was not happy about being in a small cage surrounded by other cats. He was a “stray” who had been transferred from another high-kill shelter and was confined to his cage because he had FIV and an upper respiratory infection. He was, however, delighted to make my acquaintance and began kneading the blanket in his cage the moment he saw me.

Atlas, renamed Axle, has been with me now for a few short weeks. He is young (approximately 1 year) and full of energy. No matter how much we play, he’s always ready for more, and particularly loves attacking brown paper bags and catnip mice. Other things you should know about him include: despite his size he sounds like a tiny child when he cries; he is a chowhound and would like you to believe he is starving; and he loves to sleep on his back and have you rub his chest while he kneads the air.

I adore him, of course, and hope that he is becoming fond of me. Every once in awhile I slip and call him Oscar, and he always stops and stars as if to say, “It’s okay.” I find this oddly comforting and reassuring. RIP my sweet sweet Oscar and welcome home Axle. I’m so glad our paths crossed.

Copyright 2017 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.