Whoopi's Story

August 2012


Whoopie Pie came into my life on June 28, 2012, the evening I came back to adopt him at C.A.R.E. I saw Whoopie Pie about one week earlier on the eve of an already scheduled vacation. I learned on my initial visit that Whoopie Pie was a Zucchini’s Gift Cat, a cat whose adoption fee had been subsidized by a donor who wanted to help hard-to-adopt cats become more “adoptable.”

Because Whoopie Pie has the Feline Leukemia Virus, he is highly infectious to other cats, he needed to be in a home without any other cats or with other cats that also have this same virus. He also needed to stay permanently indoors so he doesn’t infect other cats. This made Whoopie Pie a hard to adopt cat even though he is an absolutely beautiful, affectionate one year-old male cat. I also was cautioned that Whoopie very likely would have a shorter life since he got this autoimmune disease as a kitten and when he starts to fail, he likely will go quickly. My vacation helped me to decide that if Whoopie Pie was still at the shelter when I returned home, I would adopt him. I thought we made a good match.

Whoopie Pie whose name I shortened to, Whoopi, in honor of one of my favorite actresses, Whoopi Goldberg, is very happy at our house. We have bonded strongly together in the short time he has come to live with me.

Whoopi and I from the very start created our own rituals which we still do as we began bonding together and becoming more familiar with each other. It was indeed smart, effective advice given to me at the time of taking Whoopi home with me to start letting Whoopi feel safe and secure in his new surroundings by placing him in the smallest room I have, the bathroom in my home, to become familiar with his new home and me.  

I kept him there in the bathroom for three days, being that Whoopi is a timid cat, during which time we bonded and began some of our rituals. I learned he loved to be brushed and this grooming helped him bond with me and feel happy here. Whoopi began to eat some then come to me for a brushing before returning to eat some more only now he began to purr loudly as he returned to feed some more. Over and over again this repeated cycling of brushing, purring, eating, back for more brushing…

At times, Whoopi will stretch out on his side for more brushing and a little tummy tickling though not too much or he bites gently, but firmly as a way of saying, “stop!” We continue this favorite ritual of ours to date. This ritual may be only for five minutes or it may last much longer. Mostly, I have the time to give him until he tires of it and walks off, content for the time being, though sometimes my schedule stops the ritual earlier than perhaps Whoopi might like. This only enhances our bond while making Whoopi feel loved, secure and safe.

Because of this early bonding and our development of this ritual that he is being groomed while eating, Whoopi has felt secure and safe with me in our home. In turn, this helped him overcome his timidity with me. I was later surprised to learn that Whoopi was so shy with his foster mother that he always followed her and usually kept himself hidden from her view. He, I was told, usually hid behind her chair when she sat and always, always walked behind her never in front of her!

This was not something Whoopi ever did with me. Oh, yes, he would lie away from me with his eye on me for quite some time, but, of course, this meant I always had a clear view of him, too. Mostly, he seemed to want to stay away from being underfoot which he is still careful to do with me.  Even as I write this story, Whoopi is within an arm’s length reach of me lying on his perch on top of his blanket by the open window as I sit in my easy chair writing/typing. The difference, too, now he doesn’t feel he needs to keep a constant eye on me as he knows he won’t be hurt by me, nor will he be underfoot.

From the start, knowing Whoopi to be a shy, timid cat, I have always been careful of my movements around him so as not to scare him and to always allow him to feel secure. This seems to have been effective behavior on my part for him. Even now, I am careful to walk slowly, if near him, but usually giving him wide berth as I walk by him in our apartment so as not to scare him or upset him in any way. This, too, is important I was told. That is, not to stress Whoopi, whenever possible. Maybe less stress will lengthen his life a little or a lot. One never really knows for sure when the end of his time alive will be. Of course, all this intentional low-stress living is great for my health, too, no doubt about it!

It seems Whoopi knows when bedtime is around here – ten o’clock, usually. Sometimes he lets me know when I am overstaying our routine bedtime by getting my attention maybe with a couple meows or a subtle rubbing up against me looking in askance at me. Or he might be a little more rambunctious by tearing around the house a little. Yep! That gets my attention, but in a nice way as I love his spurts of kitten-like energy.

Whoopi knows bedtime means tucking me in bed before he goes to bed himself, but more than that, he knows it is time to play a little “cat and mouse” game of my hand (securely covered with blankets to prevent him scratching me) moving stealthily as he pounces and attacks with a playful, intent vengeance getting his prey! Often, before he goes off to bed himself, usually under the bed, he will come around to snuggle me around my neck and face, sometimes giving me a couple licks of his sandpaper-like tongue and more snuggling, first on one side then the other side of my neck and face. When he is satisfied that he, too, gets his final petting and sweet, low words or cooing from me, Whoopi goes perhaps to the open window for a look out see or a final round of bathroom duty and a quick snack before going to slumberland himself under the bed.

Whoopi really loves his sitting/scratching perch near my easy chair because he is always assured of hearing gentle, affirmative words from me as I sit reading or writing whenever he vigorously scratches on his perch before he jumps up to the upper perch level to look out the window or perhaps take a nap near me. Whoopi loves his attention and this is one way he has discovered he can get me to talk to him and notice him! One thing I am amazed about Whoopi is how he uses positive attention getting techniques as opposed to annoying or negative attention getting behaviors like scratching the furniture or carpet. Oh, lately, he does a little carpet scratching which hastens a chastisement from me to him, but normally, he chooses something positive in getting my attention.

Yes, indeed, Whoopi is the most excellent companion I had thought and hoped he might be. Having Whoopi here with me has definitely caused me to want to be home more constantly than ever I have been before now. He makes it fun to stay homebound more often. Truly, I treasure our quiet time together where mostly I am either cooking, baking, reading or writing at home. Sometimes I am talking, calendaring, organizing or researching on my smart phone, but these are part of my at-home activities that I do to be around Whoopi. Not that I neglect my friends, family, work, cultural, religious or other social activities, but I no longer have a need to seek companionship or activities outside the house near as much as before Whoopi came into my life. Previously, I have adopted cats, usually in pairs, but this is a new experience for me, this feeling of complete serenity and contentment at home.

Evidently, domestic bliss is here for the time I have Whoopi. Indeed, Whoopi is pure joy and happiness to me. Ours is a match made at the C.A.R.E. shelter, if not in heaven!

Janet P.

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