I had to have my cat put to sleep a couple of months ago.

Maggie and I had been together for 14 years, and it was hard to let her go; but she was very sick. As anyone who has lost a pet knows, people grieve when they lose an animal they love.

I figured it would be a while before I would be ready to have more kitties in my life.

But a few weeks ago I happened to be at Cottonwood Mall and saw that the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary was at Furburbia. (Furburbia is an adoption center where local animal groups take turns bringing in dogs and cats that need homes.)

I have worked with Best Friends before and decided to take a look. The cages were filled with all varieties of animals looking for new owners, but I found myself drawn to two gray-and-white male cats, both about a year old, that happened to be placed next to each other.

One was a long-haired, part Persian that had been rescued from a shelter the day before it was to have been put down. The other had been a stray, found on the street with a badly infected eye that, in fact, had to be removed. Both had been neutered and were current on shots.

It was too soon to be thinking about new kitties, and they weren't at all what I thought I wanted, but I couldn't get those two out of my mind. They deserved a good home, and I thought maybe I could give it to them. A few days later I called Best Friends and said I'd give it a try.

I admit it's been an adjustment. Maggie had mellowed considerably, and I'd forgotten how rambunctious and energetic young cats can be. They have their own ideas and do things their own way.

I worried whether they would get along, since they came from separate foster homes and really had no connection with each other aside from an accidental placement next to each other at the adoption center. But from the very first, they have bonded. They play together; they groom each other; they sleep together (unless they are sleeping on me); they share food dishes and litter boxes.

I decided to call the long-haired one Jeddy, short for Jedediah (in honor of one of my favorite mountain men, Jedediah Smith), since he is adventurous and likes to explore everything. I named the one-eyed cat Cooper, in honor of Cooperstown, where my sister and I had such a great time last fall. "If you want a baseball name," said my brother, somewhat rudely, "you should name him Umpire!" (Jeddy actually reminds me of Groucho Marx, but I couldn't do that to him.)

Mostly, I call them "the boys."

They are very sweet. They are cuddlers and purrers. Jeddy loves to give Eskimo kisses — in-your-face nose rubs. (We just have to work on the fact that he also likes to give them at 3 a.m.) Cooper loves to be petted; as soon as I touch his ears, he plops down and rolls over so he can get belly rubs.

Cooper has a polite little meow, as if he is saying, "Excuse me, but I could use some attention." Jeddy mostly goes with the "Mmmmmmmrrh," usually not bothering to finish the sentence. They've enjoyed the free run of my house; love to "help" me read the newspaper; and find anything that moves fair game, including my fingers and toes.

They love to pounce and play. They jump in boxes and scuffle around in old packing paper. Cooper will chase Jeddy upstairs, and then Jeddy chases him back down. Cooper will jump about a foot straight up in the air. Having only one eye hasn't slowed him down a bit.

Jeddy is fascinated by water, although he doesn't much like getting wet. But showers, toilets, the kitchen sink all hold appeal; he hears water and comes running. He also likes to perch in high spots. Cooper's favorite thing is pulling objects off shelves — just to watch them fall.

At times, it has been hard to have kitties around that aren't Maggie. But, while she will always hold a special place in my heart, and they will never take that place, they are carving out their own little spot. I'm back in the kitty business, and my boys and I are getting along fine.


E-mail: carma@desnews.com