Our new roommate sleeps in a wastepaper basket (after she knocks it over to empty it). 

She follows us into the kitchen. On every trip — no exceptions. She follows us into the bathroom and lounges patiently on the magazine shelf, chatting amicably while we shower, or whatever.

She wakes the entire house at 3 a.m., 5 a.m. or whatever ungodly hour she decides is appropriate to wander around and oh-so-gently tap every occupant on the cheek, just to see if we’re really sleeping.

She helps herself to our drinks (water or vodka, she’s not picky), and when she’s not getting the attention she feels she deserves, she starts intentionally knocking shit off the coffee table — just to watch it fall. A fork? Gone. A piece of mail? Flick. A computer mouse? Later, mouse. Stan’s new Costa sunglasses? Not anymore. 

Gravity is hilarious to a 2-year-old cat.

It’s a good thing she’s super soft and equally hilarious, because the cute little freeloader gets away with almost everything, although I do draw the line when she climbs to the topmost shelf and starts eyeing the curtain rod.

That requires some intervention on my part, although I’m often too late.

In honor of the Florida Keys SPCA’s upcoming Kitten Extravaganza, I figured I’d introduce our new cat, Peanut.

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Stan and I adopted this mischievous little softie from the Key West shelter on April 6, and have spent the past nine weeks laughing at her antics — mostly. (Our reactions are slightly different around 5 a.m.)

Peanut is only my second cat, having grown up with a jolly mutt of a shelter dog named Sneakers. (Best. Dog. Ever.) My first cat was the 17-pound Buddy, who showed up on our Key West back porch 12 years ago and didn’t leave until he left this world two years ago at a ripe old age. Buddy was a full-grown, street-smart gentleman cat when he showed up one night hoping Stan might share the fresh tuna he was cleaning out back. (He did, along with every other fish — and chicken sandwich — he ever brought home.

But Buddy was already an adult, chilled out and comfortable when he showed up. He didn’t want to play at 5 a.m. He’d saunter out of the bedroom around 10 a.m. like a hungover frat boy looking drowsily for some Cap’n Crunch. Buddy could also be trusted on his own outside. He had his own kitty door from the living room to the front porch and was hugely low-maintenance.

Peanut? Not so much. She’s too small and inexperienced to venture outside on her own, and she’s NOT a fan of the snazzy blue vest we bought for her outdoor adventures. She’s apparently convinced the thing is a straitjacket rather than a softly padded harness. She’ll take a few steps, freeze in place and then slump over. But that’s actually an improvement over her first outing, when she looked like one of those fainting goats, stiffening her legs straight out in front of and falling over sideways. Fortunately, her curiosity about the outdoors is beginning to surpass her distaste for the harness and she’s moving a bit more smoothly. Sort of.

Peanut is still adjusting — sort of — to her snazzy blue vest for outdoor adventures. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly
Peanut is still adjusting to her snazzy blue vest for outdoor adventures. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

Pre-dawn gravity games or not, our house is undoubtedly happier with the Peanut in it, and we couldn’t imagine it without her.

She’s where she belongs — with us — and the Florida Keys SPCA made it happen.

They’re hoping to do the same for hundreds of other families and animals.

This week’s Kitten Extravaganza aims to find homes for the 100 or so irresistible little guys that show up every spring and summer. Visit fkspca.org for the details or see the story in this week’s Key West Weekly.

We can’t say enough good things about their devoted team, the care they give the animals and the support they provide adoptive families to ensure successful pairings.

When we called them in April to say we wanted a cat, Tiffany immediately sent us an online adoption questionnaire about our household and the preferred age & activity level of our new pet.

Then, due to COVID, she made us an appointment to visit the shelter the next day. Rich welcomed us and started our paperwork. Then he sent us upstairs with adoption counselor Zach, who already had a few potential cats in mind based on our questionnaire.

Peanut was the second or third cat we met. Her shelter name was Teegan, but she was so much smaller than her predecessor, Buddy, we started calling her Peanut. (She was cool with it.)

I had told Stan I wanted a cat to choose us so we’d know it was a good fit, and this little girl snuggled in as soon as we picked her up. With our decision quickly made, we had to leave her temporarily to go sign the papers. The sad look on her face nearly broke my heart. (What’d I do wrong? I thought you liked me.)

But Zach quickly boxed her up and brought her downstairs. Voila! Insta-Pet. She was all ours, and seemed perfectly content with this new turn of events.

Stan had gone ahead to pick up supplies, so she and I were on our own for the drive home. A car ride is scary for a cat who can’t see out of a box, so I opened the lid and scooped her up. She settled in my lap and rode snugly from the Stock Island shelter to her new South Street home.

Upon arrival, Peanut quickly made herself comfortable, exploring every closet, cabinet and crevice, claiming her favorite spaces and clearing them of any bothersome items. (“Surely they didn’t mean to put this picture frame on my shelf. I’ll just move it out of the way…” Bam! “Ah, much better. Now, let’s see about that desk lamp….Hey, I bet I can fit behind that filing cabinet. Uh oh, perhaps I miscalculated. Houston, we have a problem. Guys? Hey, guys? A little help down here?”

Ah yes, the adventures continue and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Visit the Florida Keys SPCA’s website at fkspca.org for details about this week’s Kitten Extravaganza events, where you can meet the most irresistible little guys in person on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

But the website also features all the sweet cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters and other animals hoping for a happy home.

They’re ready when you are. Just clear off a shelf…

 

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. She's married to a saintly — and handy — fisherman, and has been stringing words together in Key West since 1998.