I could tell you all about my human’s weekend at the San Diego Cat Show — about her hard work selling my books (that sometimes paid off), and the awesome show cats she saw, including some crazy Abyssinians (she may yet share a video somewhere) and gorgeous Somalis. I could tell you about the great time she had sharing the booth there with fellow writers Amy Shojai and Arden Moore. But my human’s favorite part of the cat show wasn’t any of that. It was the fact that she got to spend time with Arden Moore’s very special cat, Zeki. My human has been one of Zeki’s fangirls since she saw her at last year’s Cat Writers Conference.
Zeki is a therapy cat, but she is also much more than that. First, however, I want to tell you a little about her background, because that makes all the difference. When Zeki was less than a year old — still a kitten — she was discovered in a Texas neighborhood, horribly injured. Some unspeakably cruel human had skinned part of her back end. Through the kindness of a nice older lady, this little cat got the care she needed to save and heal her. This lady, although on a limited income, put up the money for the wounded cat’s expensive surgery and aftercare. Zeki spent time healing in the foster care of a well-known cat writer named Dusty Rainbolt. After having Zeki at her house for a while, Dusty realized that this lively, sociable kitty was very special and she contacted Arden, who had recently lost a beloved cat. The rescue that was in charge of Zeki’s adoption made an exception to their usual rule about not allowing out-of-state adoptions, and Zeki came to live with Arden in Oceanside, CA. It was Arden who came up with Zeki’s name, which means both clever and courageous in Turkish (with her distinctive markings, it is believed that Zeki has some Turkish Van blood).
Now comes the amazing part. In spite of her horrible ordeal, Zeki is not only a friendly, gentle cat — she is patient, intelligent and infinitely calm. Arden not only had her certified as a therapy cat, she also uses her in pet first aid demonstrations — in addition to being a noted author, broadcaster and speaker, Arden is a master pet first aid instructor and gives classes all over the U.S. Zeki is the only cat in the U.S. who helps teach cat first aid. And she is brilliant at it.
Arden was able to slip this muzzle on Zeki several times over the weekend as a demonstration. Zeki did not mind at all.
She did not care about getting wrapped like a burrito either.
What did she mind? Being put in her pop-up shelter when she was in the mood to be social. She loved visiting with people and sometimes it was really moving, like when she spent a long time in the lap of a terminally ill man. Out of respect for the family’s privacy, my human did not take photos, but it was clear Zeki made a deep connection with him — and many others.
It was a long weekend for Zeki. She is used to being one-on-one with people, and in small groups for classes, so after a big cat show with so many humans coming and going and so many strange cats, she was very tired.
Zeki is a very gifted cat, and my human felt really lucky to spend the weekend with her.
And even though the horrible event that began her journey was over four years ago, which is a very long time in cat years, I wonder sometimes if Zeki does not occasionally dwell on it, and purr for a day when no cat will ever have to suffer like that again.