I’ve written more than a few entries in the past year about the passing of my brown tabby cat Leo and his potential reincarnation.
Reincarnation is a funny thing. I was pretty damn sure our kittens had been born last spring, but they didn’t materialize in our life. This may have been because when the nearest humane society had a “two for one” kitten sale in June, we choose not to go. It just didn’t feel right, we would have been pushing ourselves, our energy, our car and our finances to adopt two kittens last summer. So we didn’t go and since then Leo has continued to visit in spirit.
I think that *could have* been an opportunity for us, but the neat thing about reincarnation is that it’s not set in stone. People can get whipped up into a lot of anxiety about finding their reincarnated pet (let this entry demonstrate my own obsession!) The truth is, when you find the right one, it will FEEL right and easy.
One thing I didn’t mention in ANY of the above articles is the names “Winter” or “Mikey”. These names have been around since we first started talking to Snowball about his incarnation into our family in 2011, before Mocha or Leo had passed away. Repeatedly during this reading and other ones, Snowball used the names “Winter” and “Mikey” while showing us a fluffy white kitten with blue eyes as himself. We thought that “Winter” and “Mikey” were potential names he’d like to have in his next life with us. I wish I’d written about it.
While reincarnation can and should be an easy, straight-forward thing, it can also be just as complicated as you choose to make it. When Sweetie & I choose to let pass the opportunity to adopt two kittens from the humane society, I found myself obsessively locking into the idea of pediatric spay/neuters. Any kitten we got through the humane society would already be spayed or neutered, even if it was an infant 8 week old kitten.
I will admit that I do still carry some sorrow and philosophical regret about Leo’s passing. Unlike Mocha who passed peacefully and painlessly after a stroke, Leo I believe died of kidney failure. I have a sneaky suspicion that the dry kibble I fed him all of his life caused him to die prematurely of kidney failure, which I now know is the leading cause of death in housecats. Sometimes I wonder if I’d fed him more canned food, if I’d switched him to a better kibble, if if if if if, MAYBE he could have been with me longer. I know I did the best I could for him, and the best I could for Mocha (who told me just two months before she died that her food was shortening her life.)
All of my animals have been rescues, and while their care has not been perfect, their lives were undoubtedly better with me than in their former circumstances. I can console myself in knowing that although I couldn’t give Mocha the VERY BEST, I did give her a great life. Before she came to me, Mocha lived the first three years of her life at the end of a chain in a back yard, before being tied to the doors of the humane society overnight and watching her family drive away. Mocha was pulled from the humane society before her scheduled euthanasia, and spent the next several months of her life in a chaotic “rescue” run by a woman with a big heart but few resources. This rescue was shut down a year later, but at the time of Mocha’s adoption, the house was a maze of make-shift barriers and a cacophony of barking. I assumed I’d caught the rescue in a bad moment, but I thought back to it when it took Mocha six months to clear the tapeworms and giardia she’d come home with.
Such is the background of a rescue animal, and such experiences do not detract from their ability to be loving, devoted, ideal family members. But this is not the background I want for my reincarnated Leo.
When it comes right down to it, I just can’t stand the idea of Leo coming back to me and experiencing one moment of uncertainty or discomfort. I don’t want him born to an independent semi-feral female. Unsprayed female cats are very uncommon creatures for responsible pet owners to have. Those who can provide proper nutrition, safe housing and a loving environment for their female cats nearly always provide sterilization too!
And any kitten born to a semi-feral mother would be potentially exposed to the disease, stress and malnutrition typical of “unwanted” kittens. Most of these kittens are separated from their mothers much too early, and those who end up in the humane society will certainly endure a pediatric spay or neuter before I have an opportunity to find them – never mind the multiple changes in environment, and the general stress of a shelter.
So that leaves breeders. There’s something I’m much more comfortable with! A responsible breeder would have the dam and sire on site, pampered, well nourished, well-loved animals from the day of their birth. If I provided Leo with an opportunity to come in through a breeder, his kittenhood would be one of warmth, nutrition, gentle routine, nurtured development and security from the moment of his arrival. He would have the best environment and his dam would be as relaxed and healthy as felinely possible.
The kitten would know no uncertainty and would transition from the place of his birth directly into his forever home without any side-visits to rescues or shelter facilities. I couldn’t give Leo the *very best* care while he was my first cat, but now I am in the position to give him the very best life as my third cat.
I know I’m being silly here. Ultimately, Leo is not attached to HOW he arrives, this is all about me and what I need. I’m not saying this is the best way to welcome a reincarnated pet into your home, it’s just one way of many… but I’ll admit I’m a control freak (Sweetie will vouch for that) and if I can control the circumstances around Leo’s reincarnation, buy GUM! That’s what I’ll do!
So this brings me back to the very early conversations with Snowball, and the names Winter and Mikey.
In the past few weeks I’ve been researching breeders. I was somewhat interested in ragdolls, but I’m just not that drawn to them. What I really want is a Maine Coon. Leo was part Maine Coon, and although he was short-haired, his heritage showed in his massive bone structure, his muscled body, his elongated face and his huge tufted paws. His presence was larger than a housecat, it was lion-like, hence his name. When he was young, you could almost see the aura of a ruffled mane around his head and neck.
When I look at pictures of purebred tabby Maine coons, I see Leo. I started to research Maine coon breeders in British Columbia, and I’ve contacted a couple – but surprisingly most breeders in British Columbia will have their kittens spayed or neutered at eight or nine weeks of age before allowing them to go to their new homes at twelve weeks of age! I was so surprised that a breed enthusiast who is dedicated to creating the most robustly healthy examples of the breed would deny such large cats the health benefits of early puberty. I wondered if the breeders were fixing their kittens to ensure the new owners wouldn’t cross breed them – there’s getting to be a serious problem with “designer cats” resulting from irresponsible “backyard breeding”. These are animals bred for curiosity or profit’s sake, often two purebred cats cross-bred to produce a “new breed”. My dog Happy, a papillion/poodle cross, is a casualty of ridiculous backyard breeding fads.
Then I found a breeder in Ontario. At first I wasn’t seriously interested in purchasing a kitten so far from home, but then I saw the pictures of the females – and one of them was all white.
I’ve never seen a white Maine coon before – I didn’t know they existed. Typically, white versions of certain breeds are undesirable or unhealthy, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind. When I brought up the website to show to Sweetie later that day, my eyes finally moved away from the picture of the cat to the text of her name: Winter.
Holy crap! Well, maybe it’s a coincidence. She *is* a white cat after all, Winter is an appropriate name.
But damn, I just can’t get her out of my head. I went back on the website today and my eyes snapped to the name of the large orange male. His name? Mikey.
Seriously. Could Snowball have been telling us three years ago the names of his sire and dam?
Well, honestly, probably not. That’s how it works with reincarnation – they will give you signals that confirm for you when you’re on the right track, when it’s a good path for them to come in. The cues “Mikey” and “Winter” could have come in while I picked up kittens from the humane society – someone could have yelled, “Hey Mikey – are you working this winter?” So when you find these clues it doesn’t mean I *have to* go this way, but it’s an indication that yes, this is an open path way.
And then, as I obsessively perused every corner of this breeder’s website, I found a photo of one of Winter’s kittens who was featured in a veterinarian cat anatomy textbook. This handsome model’s name?
Actually, Snowball is the name the breeder gave the kitten. When he moved to his new home, his people named him “Angel”.
I’m not saying this is decided yet, I’m just starting conversations with the breeder, but maybe, just maybe, this is the way we’ll go. No promises people, we’ll see.