Four years ago, Joe and I happened across an ad for a $20 kitten on Craigslist. We had just gotten married earlier that month, and were looking to expand our family, as married couples do. The woman placing the ad didn't have a camera or a camera phone to photograph the kitten, but the ad described a kitten that her husband was "allergic" to, so they kept this fluffy, softball-sized profusion of white hair quarantined in a room in the basement. Joe was suspicious of an ad without a photo, but I convince him to give it a chance. The woman had rescued the kitten from a cat hoarding house in a nearby town, and I still regret not asking where this hoarding house was...
The next day, which happened to be Halloween, we meet her in the parking lot of the dollar store, and as soon as we saw his sour little face in the passenger window of their car, we were in love. We knew we had to take him to our loving home to meet our three other cats. We put Templeton -- or as the son in his dinosaur costume called him, "Prince Funny Face" -- in the carrier, and immediately made our way to the vet. We didn't want this kitten, about whom we knew nothing about other than he was cute as a stinkin' BUTTON, spreading any nasties to our other three cats.
The vet immediately noticed that Templeton was covered in fleas under his thick coat of white hair. He also had ear mites. He was given a pill to kill the fleas, all we had to do was give him a flea bath once we got home. He was also tested for feline HIV, distemper, and all the other things one tests a strange kitten for. We pointed out a scaly, hairless patch on his tail (which the previous owner had been treating with hand lotion), but the vet dismissed it as nothing to worry about, and sent us on our way. We had to quarantine Templeton in the guest bedroom, since we knew he had fleas and ear mites, and wanted those to run their course. Joe cautioned me against cuddling with him too much, but I just couldn't resist his fluffy charms and his tiny, boisterous meow that he knew would draw me into his lair. Before we put him in his special room, we bathed him for the first time, and the water ran dark red with flea dirt. It made my heart ache to know that he had been suffering so much.
A few days later I had my scheduled wisdom teeth extraction, and as I was recovering in our bed, I noticed that I was covered in torturously itchy flea bites, and thought it odd that there were no fleas on me or anywhere in the apartment. Meanwhile, Joe receives a call in the other room from the vet asking whether Templeton has any bald spots other than his tail, which, yes, he happened to now have. Apparently, the entire veterinary staff, and the vet that examined Templeton, contracted a particularly virulent strain of ringworm, which neither us nor the vet (strangely) had considered as the cause of his bald spot. Joe's and my infections with it were pretty severe, so we made emergency dermatologist appointments and were put on topical cream and an anti-fungal pill (It would be two years before we were able to get Templeton's "deep ringworm" fully under control [as well as the ringworm that our other three cats developed] with the right combination of medications.)
Three years later, once his ringworm had cleared up, we discovered that he also has tapeworm, which we had no idea about that whole time, and which would explain why he has a bit of stunted growth for an adult male cat. So we like to say he is full of surprises. From his time in the "pen" (we often refer to him as a hardened criminal who did his time in the state penitentiary), he learned how to communicate to us using his loud and high-pitched meows, which he now uses to request (read: demand) petting, food, and general acknowledgement of his supreme cuteness.
He is definitely our favorite cat (don't tell the other cats), maybe because of all the work we had to do to get him healthy; much like a fixer-upper house feels more rewarding to live in than a shiny, new house that you might take for granted.
Author: Cassie Graus
Photogapher: Cassie Graus
Editor: Marjorie Skiba
About the Author: Cassie Graus lives with her husband and three cats in Virginia. When not working magic with her paint brush, she likes to experiment with vegan baking and watch dark comedies from Denmark on Netflix
Check out her cute comics and truly adorable kitty paintings at here at KittyCassandra. She sells high quality prints and also does commissions of your precious cats!