I first met Princess Gabriella at the animal shelter on a hot, muggy, Saturday afternoon in July.  On that particular day, my volunteer duties included working in the Cat Adoption Room.  My job was to groom the cats, calm them, and prepare them for the arrival of any potential foster parents who might wander in. 

When I saw the large number of cats up for adoption that day, I decided that I was going to take one of them home.  I figured that I could sneak one more in without my spouse getting too upset.

As I went about my grooming duties, I must have held and groomed 40 cats before I came upon old Princess Gabriella.  Most of these cats were young, frisky, and very playful.  This one was just the opposite.  She was black and white and old.  She just stared out at me from her cramped prison cage with the saddest looking eyes that I had ever seen on any animal.

When I opened her cage door, she slowly and gingerly crawled into my arms and immediately began nuzzling my chin.  She was also purring delightedly.  She clung to my chest so tightly that I had a difficult time getting her back in the cage.  I was hooked.

The shelter keeps a log on each unfortunate creature brought in, and I soon learned that Miss Gabriella was 8 years old.  Older cats like her often end up at a shelter when their owner dies and family members no longer wish to care for the deceased person’s pet.

Gabriella, however, had been abandoned in a high-rise apartment building in the centre of town.  Her former owner had simply moved out and left her in the empty apartment to fend for herself, without any food or water.

I learned from shelter personnel that this is a far too common occurrence in big cities today.  On a daily basis, apartment superintendents find abandoned forlorn pets like Princess Gabriella.  These unfortunate throw-aways are then taken to animal shelters, and sadly, very often put to sleep.

I decided right there that Miss Gabriella would be spared this terrible fate.  When I told shelter personnel of my decision to take her home, they seemed surprised and delighted that I wanted to adopt such an old cat.

Almost everyone who wandered into their facility rescued only kittens and younger felines up to two or three years of age.  Seniors such as Miss Gabriella were usually left to linger in their cages for a few weeks, and then sadly escorted to the ‘sleep room.’

As I loaded Princess Gabriella into my car that evening, I wondered if any other elderly felines would be given a second chance at life that day.  I sincerely hoped they would.

The elderly Miss Gabriella soon blossomed into a real geriatric treasure in our household.  She’s now our home’s official listener, confidant, tummy warmer, visitor greeter, photographic ham, and sexy senior, and she’s in love with our old tabby, Buddy.  He’s definitely her ‘Valentine Guy.’

Our Princess Gabriella definitely believes in senior citizen courtship and female aggressiveness.  She is madly in love with old Buddy, and she’s been after him with Cupid’s Bow and Arrow for several years now – and she refuses to give up hope.

She will follow him around the house for hours, batting her long lovely whiskers at him every chance she gets.  Gruff old Buddy usually ignores her or hisses his disapproval of her continuous amorous attentions.

But the old girl will just not give up or give in.  She obviously believes that Buddy will one day come to his senses and fall madly in love with her, too.  She’s a very stubborn old love-sick cat.

And I just know that she’s planning something extremely romantic for old Buddy this Valentine’s Day.

He’s especially fond of dining on spiders, and I’ve recently seen the Princess dashing all about our basement, collecting a wide variety of them for Buddy’s ‘Special Valentine’s Day Gift.’

Won’t he be surprised!

And maybe, just maybe, this year, Princess Gabriella’s Valentine Dream will finally come true.  I sincerely hope it does.

Isn’t love simply grand?!


© Ed Kostro 2005

Be sure to check out Ed's websites.






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