George the Siberian

A cat for Aaron

George was the beginning of our animal adventures.

We lived in a small apartment, and Aaron’s then-job with a construction company kept him on the road for weeks at a time; I commuted several hours each day by foot, then train, then bus, then foot.

We both felt the need to center our lives.

Little did we know, we had a George-shaped ache, waiting to be filled with love. And chaos.

Our only set-back was Aaron’s allergies…which brought me to the deep research of pet dander. Ultimately, I found that most humans’ allergic reactions to cats, dogs & the like is related to a protein found in that critter’s saliva, skin cells, or pee (Mayo Clinic). Some have less of this enzyme than others.

Enter the Siberian.

I grew up with cats, but only ever adopted from animal shelters. I felt very reluctant to go through a breeder, especially at twice the cost.

I tried to stop Googling Siberian cats and their amazing range of gold, black, smokey, brown, and orange ‘hypoallergenic’ coats. Their long lifespans. Their cozy, cuddly dispositions — with kids, dogs, dads!

Siberian Forest Cats are a large, ancient breed.

They’re tremendous to learn about—to imagine their snow-covered lives over centuries. It changed how I thought of the process.

My scoff was starting to fade. Maybe we could be intentional about our cat. Maybe it wasn’t so crazy to adopt a specific breed.

Whether crazy or not is debatable. But when I found a family who was passionate about Siberians without insisting on show-cat-stuff (and who would work with me on a payment plan), I was decided.

They happened to have two kittens left in Mama Buttercup’s recent litter—George and Garfield. Both orange boys. I was attracted to Garfield’s photo: he was more orange, fluffier, and stout. Delightful.

Then I met them in-person. The littlest kitty sauntered right up to me and smushed his nose against my ankle.

“Oh, he picked you!”

The breeder was not milking it. This cat hung with me the whole time, even took a kitten-nap in my lap. It was over.

I decided to keep this a covert adoption and surprise Aaron—looking back, this was not such a leap, considering how much we love being surprised with baby animals. Like many things in this post about our cat, it’s not for everyone.

A month after we met, my sister and I made the trip to collect 12-week-old George. This was December 2019; Aaron would be coming home from a job out of state, a few days after we picked up George.

And what a surprise it was.

This adoption process actually set us up for farm life.

As we add geese, ducks, and bigger livestock to our farmstead, we come back to the same principles: what do these animals need from us, and what do we need from them? We research breeds as local as possible, we visit their first homes and, if possible, their parents. We aim to set us all up for successful interdependence. Even the cat.

Our only regret is not having enough money to adopt George’s brother, Garfield. But he went on to a very happy family, too.

Fortunately, George had a sister in his future…a story for another time.