Saffron let out a plaintiff meow after I parked the car, so I poked a finger through the carrier door to give him a little scratch.
“It’s OK, baby,” I crooned in my best cat mommy voice.
I lifted the carrier from the passenger seat, and was again shocked by how little my old cat weighed. Saffie was so skinny that I could have lifted the carrier with two fingers. I carried him upstairs in the carrier to my apartment with ease.
I unlocked the front door. The moment I set the carrier on my living room carpet, Odie came bounding over. I gingerly opened the door to the cat carrier. Saffron did not move. He sat and surveyed his new surroundings, content to stay in the safety of the carrier.
“It’s OK Saffie,” I crooned.
Odie sniffed the sides of the carrier. At the scent of a new cat, he immediately began to growl.
“Hey,” I said, “Saffie’s a friend. Cut that out!”
Odie sat down and flattened his ears, growling loudly. I patted Saffron’s head and tried to explain that Odie was a kitten and not wise in the ways of the feline world. Saffron turned to look at Odie but appeared unconcerned. Nonetheless, he would not budge from the carrier.
After several minutes of this standoff, I shut the carrier door and took Saffron into my office and closed the door behind us. I set down the carrier and opened the door. There he sat like a Sphinx, regal and unmoving.
“It’s OK,” I said. “This is your home now.”
He blinked and stayed put.
I went in search of a temporary litter box, and settled on the plastic tub I used for mopping the kitchen floor. I filled it with several inches of litter. Then I opened a new can of food and scooped some onto a plate. I filled a stainless steel bowl with water. When I carried these things back to the office, Saffron had left the safety of the carrier and was exploring his surroundings.
Progress! Odie, however, was pacing outside the office door, watching intently each time I went in or came out. Getting these two used to each other was going to be a challenge. I set the food down on the floor and Saffron began to gobble it up, a purr raging deep in his belly. I stroked his head.
Odie and I cuddled on the living room couch while I tried to explain the situation to him, babbling on about Oliver and Saffron, and how they had been such great friends back in the day. Odie blinked his yellow eyes at me and rolled over for a belly scratch. I figured he’d be fine as long as he got his fair share of love and food, but I somehow had to stop him from growling at or fighting with Saffron.
Later that afternoon, I downloaded tips for introducing a new cat into the household from the Humane Society website. The website recommended keeping the two pets apart at first, so my instinct to separate them had been right on. Preventing overt hostility or an outright attack was essential. One of the pointers recommended feeding the two animals on either side of a closed door. That way, they would associate the scent of the strange cat with the pleasure of eating their food. Genius!
I immediately placed Saffie’s food bowel on sheet of newspaper just inside the office, and put Odie’s dish right outside the closed door. Odie is a fool for Greenies, so I sprinkled the crunchy little fish-shaped treats around liberally.
For the next several hours I divided my time between the two cats. At one of my visits with Saffron, I combed his fur and immediately spied the telltale black bodies of live fleas on the comb.
“Icckkkk,” I said, heading for the closet where I kept flea medication. I gave him another helping of food, and as he purred and ate, proceeded to douse the back of his neck with a tube of Advantage.
That night, I fell into bed still amazed that Saffron was back. As a peace offering, I let Odie sleep with me, a rare treat. As we settled in, he cuddled under my arm.
“Good boy,” I said. “I know it’s a shock for you, but now you have a brother!”
They did look enough alike to be related, but clearly the age difference made that impossible.
Odie gave a little purr and I took that as a signal that all would be well.