Yesterday morning I went to my new volunteer orientation session at our local animal shelter. It’s a totally state-of-the-art, LEED gold-level building, designed to make life as pleasant as possible for the animals who live there until they find their “forever families,” and I’m really looking forward to spending a lot of quality volunteer time there.

There were a lot of volunteers who “worried” about feeling the need to take home some new family members — with 80 cats and kittens available, there are certainly plenty to go around* — but I’m not worried that I’ll succumb. Zouzou just wouldn’t stand for another cat, even if the other members of the family would. She doesn’t mind dogs, she really enjoyed having a foster rabbit with us for a while, and she might even dig an iguana, but she is the ONLY cat, thank you very much! The Grand Duchess Zouzou is 8.5 lbs of pure regal attitude and an equal part goofiness.

Anyway, here are a few recent snaps, by way of official introduction:

She's got great taste in shoe(boxes), but she's more of a 12W than an 8.5M.

She believes that she's more than smart enough to do a jigsaw, though her idea of helping is to chew on pieces of the sky.

She knows what she wants. Last night, she wanted this chair, and never mind that I was already sitting in it.

One of the things that’s most endearing about her is that she’s so, if you’ll pardon the expression, dogged about getting what she wants. When the shoebox went into the trash, she knocked the basket over so she could get it back out again. And she spent about 15 minutes “explaining” to me that I needed to sit somewhere else so she could sit in the armchair she wanted. (By explaining, I mean rubbing on my feet, meowing, jumping on my lap and back off again.) All I can say is this: it’s a good thing she’s just a cat. If she had a bigger brain, I think she’d be well on her way to world domination.

(*By the way, if you’re in a position to adopt a cat or two, please consider doing so now. Late summer is the peak of “Kitten Season” and most shelters are overflowing. The one where I volunteer doesn’t euthanize otherwise adoptable animals, even when at top capacity, but it’s in the minority.)