Russian for “God”, I’ve been told. Phonetically at least. Also British for “toilet”. But here, now, it’s an acronym: Big Orange Guy or Beloved Old Goof or Barrel O’Greatness.
He is not, as you can see, a great beauty. He may in fact be the homeliest mammal in all of southern Ontario. And we sure as hell weren’t shopping for another cat, not with a huge Banana-shaped hole dug so recently into our hearts. But one of Caitlin’s students sent her this facebook link: an unadoptable old stray over at Toronto Cat Rescue, tagged with the cruelly-ironic handle of “Gorgeous”.
And then we saw the list of features that came standard:
Old and beat-up, check. A life spent on the street, check (he lived at least eight years in an abandoned car! In a junkyard!). FIV-positive, check. Scabs, ear mites, “shaved veterinary clearcuts”, check check check. Frost-bite, check. (See that slight twist of the left ear, at the tip? Not nearly so extreme as Banana’s, but then, whose is?).
Purrs desperately and volubly when shown any affection whatsoever: check.
We weren’t looking for another cat. I myself wasn’t ready for another cat. But sometimes, creatures in need can’t wait for us to be ready: and in a world overflowing with mewling symmetrical kittens, who’s gonna take a chance on a sick junkyard ginger already on the downhill side of life?
That was a rhetorical question. The Gang of Fur now has a new member, so Banana-like in so many of his behaviors that Nurture must have totally kicked Nature’s ass. I think there’s something about street life that causes feral rescues to converge on a common behavioral template (call it the “Can’t Believe I Won the MegaMillions” mindset).
In fact, I may have only met one more pathetically-grateful feline in my life (and that was at the same home where I met BOG): a small formerly-feral Persian whose eyes had been so massively infected that they literally ruptured before her abductors could get her to the vet. The sockets filled in; the fur grew over the holes, leaving no trace; and now she is a flat-faced eyeless monstrosity sheathed in black fur. Think of a bonsai version of the alien males from Attack the Block, only with a pink toothy maw instead of a blue fluorescent one.
We probably would have taken her too, if she hadn’t already been adopted.