BONZ: Bootsie the cat overcomes shyness, and more

Hi, Pet Buddies! This week I once again ventured outside my canine comfort zone to chat with a pet of the feline persuasion – Miss Bootsie Stewart, a delicate little lady who is VERY shy.

Miss Bootsie is what’s called a “Tuxedo” because she’s got fluffy black fur with a white bib and white sox. And she’s got a real rag-to-riches story.

But before I got to hear it, or even get a peek at her, her human, James, had to drag her (gently) out from behind the couch. Two times. I put on my best non-threatening face and dropped my head down so she could do a Sniff (cats don’t Wag, ya know). She finally sniffed, decided I was OK, and sat on the far end of the couch. I smiled my irresistible Spaniel Smile and she just stared.

Finally, she said, “You’re only the second dog I’ve ever met, Mr. B. The first was my cousin Lilly, who was OK, I guess. Honestly, I don’t like cats much, either. But you seem like an OK dude.“

“Dude?” I thought to myself. “Where was this little furball from?”

“It’s just me and my Daddy now, which suits me fine. My original name was Boots but Daddy wanted to make it more feminine so he changed it to Miss Bootsie, after his kindergarten teacher. Me and Daddy have been through a lot together since he rescued me from the Mean Streets of Detroit.”

“Say what?” I was surprised. She didn’t look anything like an alley cat. At all!

“Listen, I may seem genteel, but I had to fend for myself back then. Hide, fight for food. I never even knew my parents. But my future Daddy was volunteering with an animal rescue in St. Clair Shores, and he had just lost his cat, Holly. He wanted another cat and all his friends kept bringing cats and more cats for him to see but he kept saying no, no, no. He knew the Right Cat would come along.

“Anyhow, the very next week animal rescue got in five new cats, including me. I was way at the end, scared out of my paws, trying to look invisible, huddled back in the corner of my cage. Dad looked at each of us and kept saying, “No, no, no, no … until me. I think he knew I was terrified and he very, very softly picked me up and said, ‘You’re the one!’ Right then and there, Mr. B., I just relaxed. I don’t know how, but I knew he was a really kind human.

“But I still hid under stuff for the longest time – mostly under the bed. Daddy put my food and water and sandbox close by and left me alone, except sometimes he’d lie on the floor and talk to me. It took two years before I got over being so traumatized in my youth. Now I have three cozy beds, my favorite is on Daddy’s computer desk, with food and water bowls right there, too. I love to watch him work. I’m not what you’d call a Lap Cat but I am the queen of Kitty Kisses and I never scratch, nip or hiss. Daddy is really patient and only gives me positive reinforcement, even when I have an accident.”

“So, how’d you get down here from Michigan?” I asked.

Daddy came to Vero to visit his folks, and decided to move. He got us first-class tickets on Spirit Air and I sat right next to him, in my carrier. Except I had to be stuffed under the seat for take-off. Everybody on the plane came to see me. At the Orlando Airport, an Official Human made Daddy take me out of my carrier so he could make sure I wasn’t smuggling catnip in. I mean, I like weed as much as the next cat, but I’d never take that chance.”

“Word!” I agreed.

“And, Mr. B., I am a survivor. Not just from the streets but … I had a lot of health problems. I had to have several teeth out. My vet, Dr. Gambella and her people at The Cat Hospital are so nice I wasn’t even scared. It doesn’t smell funny – it’s like a kitty resort. I love boarding there. They have suites and TVs for us, too. And a webcam so our humans can check up on us anytime. Anyway, 10 years ago, they found out I had diabetes. Daddy gives me a shot every evening and I don’t even wiggle or hide under the couch, because I know it’ll make me feel better. Plus, I get a treat after. And – I don’t talk about this much, Mr. B. – I am also a kitty breast cancer survivor. Dr. Gambella operated on me and I’m all better now.”

“Wow! You are a survivor, Miss Bootsie!” I said, impressed at how such a little fluff muffin could have so much spunk. “What do you like to eat?”

“Regular dry food mostly, and a can of tuna for dinner, after my shot. Also, I’m lactose intolerant – all us cats are – so I get Pet Sip, it’s delish and no tummy troubs. Then, at night, me and Daddy watch TV in bed and he gives me sips of water from my own glass. I could drink it by myself, but it’s more fun when he helps.

“Believe me, Mr. B., I know how lucky I am. Not everybody would have given me a chance like Daddy did: We wouldn’t trade each other for anything.”

I understood that feeling, knowing you have the perfect Forever Family. Heading home, I was really looking forward to spending some quality time with my own Mom.

Til Next Time.

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