The Love of a Cat Named Ortoloni ~ Chapter 1

Ginger cats are also called orange tabbies. Puff, named after the hero of a much-loved children’s book, was my first “Ginger Love”. My Dad was a “dog person”, but Puff captured his heart as well. We all mourned his passing, including our veterinarian.

Merrick (I was obsessed with The Elephant Man) was one of a litter born outside the apartment my ex-husband and I lived in. Their mother was obviously a pet who’d been abandoned by her family. We adopted him and one of his sisters (Scarlet, a grey tabby) and found homes for the rest – including the mom. Merrick remained my best friend through one divorce and several life changes before finally passing away in 1991.

Merrick was survived by two tortoiseshells (sisters) and I swore “no more orange-striped tabbies”. A year later I adopted another male cat – this time a one-eyed Siamese. Lestat.

But this story is about my last Ginger Love:  an orange tabby with a heart as big as the universe. Ortoloni.

August, 1997

He came to live with me after being rescued from a nearby amusement park, California’s Great America, where my boyfriend at the time worked. (Cats and kittens are regularly abandoned at CGA. As a result, these felines have banded together to form several colonies throughout the park. All are neutered or spayed and “earn their keep” by keeping the rodent population down. I got up close and personal with one group, The Kitty Knoll Gang, when I worked there a couple of years ago.)

Security discovered the kitten hiding in the water-pistol games area. We agreed to take the little ginger kitten with the idea that I would find him a good home. (“No more orange-striped tabbies”.)

Since there were other cats in the household, the upstairs bathroom became his temporary home and he immediately hid behind the toilet. Although (understandably) terrified, he allowed me to gently pick him up – at which point his bowels gave-out. This would prove to be a normal reaction for him whenever he was frightened.

I had a nightstand in the bathroom, the bottom-half of which was a cubby. Lined with a soft towel, this became his haven and never ventured out of it when I was in the room. I responded to this reluctance by poking my head inside the cubby and smooching him as often as possible. He suffered these advances uncomplainingly.

But I was still in the no-more-orange-striped-tabbies-I’ll-find-a-good-home-for-him mode.

This was Friday.

By the end of Saturday I’d become totally smitten…

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