Introducing Chip (Love at First Sight)

We did it. My family adopted a second cat. Let me introduce you to Chip.

As of today, Chip has been with us for exactly one month. He had been abandoned under a trailer and was brought to our local PAWS. The moment we walked into PAWS with intentions to adopt, our youngest daughter saw Chip and put her hand up to the window of the room where Chip was housed. Chip, in response, placed his paw against the glass at her hand.

She immediately fell in love, and with the full confidence that comes from being twelve, she announced, "If our family doesn't pick that cat, I'm coming back here tonight and rescuing him myself."

We picked that cat. No thievery was needed.

Looking back, I'm not entirely certain how this adoption took place. I mean, I grasp the process: I filled out forms, we scheduled a visit, we showed up with our cat carrier, and we left with a new cat. But I don't fully grasp the decision process that led us here. We already had one cat named Peanut. And two jobs. And three kids. Wasn't life full enough?

Over the course of many months, though, maybe a year, the kids kept mentioning getting another cat. They'd offer logical reasons. "Peanut probably would like to have a friend," they'd note. The next time they brought up the topic, they'd try another tactic, "Mom, it's clear that Peanut favors you. If we got another cat, the new cat could be ours."

After being worn down for some time, instead of noncommittally answering, "Maybe we'll get another cat someday," it shifted to, "Yes, we'll get another cat." Then, finally, we took the plunge and got the cat.

Chip is still a kitten. He's curious, delightful, and interruptive. He's absurdly friendly. He's playful. He's also slightly klutzy, which is surprisingly adorable in a cat. He eats all of his food. He tries to eat all of Peanut's food. He shows strong inclinations that he also wants to eat our food. (He likes food.)

I didn't know how Peanut would adjust to having another cat in the house. Turns out, warily at first. But, slowly, a bond is forming. They're starting to play with each other. They nap near each other. Peanut seems determined to keep Chip in line, and Chip seems determined to teach Peanut bad habits.

I've enjoyed watching my kids witness this process. When we were new parents and brought our second baby (and then a third) home from the hospital, we observed how the inclusion of a new sibling impacted family dynamics. There was shuffling. There were feelings. There was adjustment. In the midst of those sleep-deprived seasons, we had concerns whether the older children would feel just as loved, just as secure, and just as special, even though the new baby was demanding immense time and attention.

Now, my kids are undergoing a similar process as they watch the new dynamics with the cats. "I love Chip so much!" someone will say. "I just want to make sure that Peanut knows we still love her so much, too."

In these moments, I see in their hearts what I understood in own heart many years ago: when you add someone new to love, instead of diminishing your original love, it simply expands your capacity.

The house feels fuller with a additional cat. Fuller of movement, fuller of the clickety sound of cat-feet patter, fuller of little tumbleweed tufts of cat hair on the floors, fuller with another food bowl, water bowl, and a few more cat toys strewn along the floor. But it's also fuller with even more love.

Welcome to the family, Chip. We're so glad you're here.

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