Hangin' with the cool cats

Yesterday I made my second trek up to The Wildcat Sanctuary. The two hour drive wasn't as bad as I was thinking it would be. It was nice to just relax, listen to music and ponder what's going on in my life right now. Always good to have some "me time", it seems that my introverted nature is lashing back at me and telling me to chill with the socializing.

To my surprise when I got to the sanctuary I was told I would get to spend the day taking care of the Bengals, something I wasn't expecting to get to do until next week when I'm getting officially trained in for it. That was an excellent surprise. Trista showed me around the prep room and gave me a quick overview of that area. Then we went to each of the Bungalows and met the cats, talked about any special needs they had and she let me have at it.

The residents of the first Bungalow gave me the warmest greeting, Tiger ran up my leg and climbed onto my shoulders, purring in my ear and rubbing his adorable furry head on my face, while the others scurried around mewing curiously at the new person in their home. Most of these guys were super friendly and enjoyed human company. Now, I should say that the work I did was not glamorous, cleaning up poo, getting mucked up in the rainny gloom and sniffling from the different kind of cat dander that I'm not used to wasn't fun by itself. But it felt good helping the cats and making their homes more comfortable.

In the third bungalow I met Spartacus and Ciega, their stories are really amazing and it's good to see these animals overcoming the challenges of the life they were given so unfairly. Both of them have examples of the potential birth defects that occur when people try to breed Bengals. As heart breaking as it was to see them initially, it was motivating to see them getting along just fine with their challenges. Ciega always knew when I was in the room with her and paced the perch impatiently until I petted her and said hello. She eagerly butted heads with me when she found where I was. It was so amazing to watch her move from perch to perch with such familiar ease. The third bungalow is also where I met Maui, another cat that is fond of shoulder perching. Unfortunately, he's a little unsure of his footing because of bad knees (something we have in common, I feel for him) so I have some nice scratches on my neck from where he lost his balance a little. It's all good though!

Jumping ahead to Bungalow 6, I got to meet some of the earlier generations of Bengals and the Jungle Cats. This one was particularly intimidating...the cats were bigger than the others (being F1s they were less domestic than most of the ones in the previous areas). I was greeted by Ty, the Chausie who impatiently paced the fence as I approached, hoping I brought more chicken, which I didn't. When he established that I didn't have anything interesting, he left me alone for the most part. Here I also met Ledger, appropriately named for the markings on his face that make him look terrifyingly like the Joker from the recent Dark Knight movie. He let me know that I was not welcome near him as he hissed at me from his corner where he was snuggled up with another cat. His eyes were fiercely intelligent and he watched me as I cleaned their boxes, swept and mopped their enclosure. As scared as I was of Ledger, I had to realize that he was more scared of me. Later, as I was putting the linens back in the heated room, Ty had decided to lay on them while I was cleaning so convincing him to move was rather challenging...and terrifying when I insulted him by pulling them out from under him. He hissed and moved indignantly.

This trip was super exhausting but worth every minute of the long drive. I can't wait until next week when I get to do it again. I'm pondering the idea of making the trip every Saturday instead of just every other like the original plan was. I might be able to carpool with Trista some weekends so that should help cut down on the gas bill... I hope.

On another note, I talked to my Externship bosses last week about the next steps now that I'm at the half way point and they agreed that they want to bring me on as a more permanent member of their team. I'm super excited because I absolutely love what I've been doing there. The environment is welcoming and encouraging, the people are helpful and inspiring, and the work is stimulating and exciting. I've been so remarkably lucky to have had this opportunity and am happy to get a job in the field that I went to school for. I have some things to work on, but John is happy to work with me and give me any pointers I need.

To celebrate the new job and the fact that I'll have reliable income out of graduation, I splurged and ordered myself a new 15" MacBook Pro complete with the Adobe Master Suite CS4 and a fancy wireless Magic Mouse. I am so beyond excited to play with the new toy and get it all set up. I'll have to come up with a name for it...any suggestions?

Anyway, time for bed, gotta wake up early in the morning to go running. Trying to make it a point to go three times a week before work and run 40 minutes. Already done one week, so hopefully I'll keep it up and make it a habit. Hoping to start the TEAM Fitness program they have soon and get down to my goal weight (lose ten pounds) by the time my performance is. Should be no problem, just have to watch what I eat a little more closely and keep up with the working out. Good times!