There's a new man in my life.

He's affectionate, playful, and sweet as can be. He's smart and loves to cuddle. He's 9 pounds of furry orange love.

His name is Poncho. He's a two year old orange tabby I adopted from Baltimore County Animal Control.

Before I moved back to Maryland, I knew I wanted to adopt a pet. My original thought was to get a dog. We've had dogs for many years and I absolutely adore them. Once I felt settled, I started making plans to look for a dog. But something didn't feel right. More than once I thought I wish I wanted a cat.

So I started poking that idea a little bit. Why didn't I want a cat?

Cats are aloof. They aren't as lovable as dogs. Plus if I got a cat, wouldn't that make me, a single 20-something female, a crazy cat lady? Wouldn't I just be setting myself up for a lifetime of only hanging out with my cats?

But was all of that really true?

Yes, one of my friend's cat is rather aloof and isn't exactly cuddly or overly friendly. Yes, I could hide away and only hang out with my cat instead of dating.

But at the same time...

My other friend's cats are super friendly, super outgoing, super snuggly. All of my friends that have cats are actually either married or in seriously committed relationships.

Suddenly, my excuses started looking a little flimsy.

Plus there was a small problem with getting a dog. When I get together my friends, we tend to spend extremely long chunks of time together. And now, with the closest person 20+ minutes away, leaving to walk the dog means leaving for the night. We don't get to spend too much time together during the week, so I don't want to cut my social time even shorter to walk a dog.

Cats were looking more attractive by the moment.

I knew I didn't want to rush into the decision though. I did that once in law school with disastrous consequences so this time, I wanted to make sure I had thought things through before I adopted my own furry child.

I prayed. I meditated. I researched costs. Finally, I arrived at a decision: it was time to get a cat.

Unlike when I was looking at dogs, something felt right. I was at peace with this decision.

I went to the shelter to look at a specific cat, a female calico. But when I got there, I didn't see her. So I told the friendly volunteers that I wanted a friendly, outgoing, adult cat. They told me that weirdly, all of the cats they had currently were pretty social so I should just take a look and see what I thought. While I was wandering around, saying hi to everyone, one of the volunteers said "What about this one?"

They opened the cage and let me hold this adorable little orange tabby. His name was Rio and as soon as I sat down with him in my lap, he started purring. He snuggled right into me and after a few minutes of having his ears rubbed, he started to nod off. I was in love.

What sealed the deal was when I went to return him to his cage so I could do the paperwork to bring him home, I noticed how skinny he was.

I could feel his hip bones. He was skin and bones.

It broke my heart. I knew there was no way I could leave him in that cage where he clearly wasn't happy.

I told the volunteers that I would take him. They handed the tag from his cage to take up front and told me they'd get him ready.

As it turns out, little Rio was everyone in the shelter's favorite cat. From the vet, to the volunteers, everyone loved him. And now he was going to be mine.

After a few minutes of paperwork and a quick chat with the vet on staff, it was time for us to head home. Like a lot of cats, he was not so crazy about the car.

The minute I let him out of his carrier, he started settling. He wandered around happily, exploring everything. After a lot of discussion with the family, we decided to rename him Poncho.

He's a wonderful little cat. He learns quickly. He let me sleep through most of the night; we only had one incident around 3:15 am when he decided it was time to be pet. I ignored his attempts (after all, this is sleeping time and we need to learn that it's not the appropriate time to be pet) and he quickly quieted down and behaved himself quite well for the rest of the night.

I couldn't be happier with my new man. We're still working on being friends with the bird, but I think we'll be able to figure that out.

So welcome home, little Poncho. I'm so glad you're here.

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