From the streets of Berlin to the Beaches of Ocean City
Pip was born between May and June of 2018, to what we can only assume was a feral cat family. He spent the first few months of his life somewhere around the area of Berlin, Maryland. Then one day in late September Pip decided that he wanted to start looking for a home.
Pip showed up at the front door of a family in Berlin after a late-summer thunderstorm. The family wasn’t home, but their grandmother was, so she started to feed little Pip. He was tiny, and dirty, and thought to be deaf. The family had a cat already, with its own set of health-problems, and the grandmother who was feeding Pip was moving across the country, so while they cared for Pip, he could not stay.
Laura Meadows, a junior at Stephen Decatur High School, without asking anyone in her own family, volunteered to take Pip in. There were four options at hand. Pip, who at this point had not even been named, could stay with Laura in North Ocean Pines, stay with Laura’s Dad in South Ocean Pines, go to Laura’s sister’s house in Ocean City, or be taken to the Humane Society.
When the Meadows family called the Humane Society to see if they could take Pip in, they said they were full, and could not accept him, so that option was out. Having Pip stay with Laura also did not prove ideal, as the three cats already in the home were NOT having it. Since the other Ocean Pines option included Laura’s grandfather, it was deemed unsafe, as Pip has a tendency of tripping people and that did not prove a viable plan to pair Pip with an 85 year old. So off to Ocean City he went!
Emily and Jacek Meadows-Bulak never planned on keeping little Pip long, but obviously that plan changed, here is how the first few months of Pip’s life in Ocean City went as told by Emily….
When Pip first arrived at our home he was very small and very dirty. His eyes were really bad, so that was the first thing we focused on. Everyday, in the morning and at night, we would apply a hot compress to try and get them clean. For the first couple of weeks he couldn’t open his eyes all the way, but slowly they began to heal, and appear normal.
We always thought Pip might be deaf, he never looked when we made noises or called his name, but then one day we looked in his ears, and we realized that they might be the problem. Our other cat Mowgli had started to help us groom Pip, and slowly but surely, you could tell he could hear better and better. When we took Pip to the Berlin Animal Hospital for his first vet appointment, they noticed the damage to his ears, and helped us clean them up internally as well! Now Pip can hear everything!
The first two weeks Pip lived with us were a really rough transition. We already had two cats, Natty and Mowgli, that we had brought from Poland with us when we moved back to the United States three years ago. While Mowgli didn’t seem to mind Pip being around all that much, Natty was deeply affected. For ten straight days she lived on top of a bookshelf in the very back corner of our home, only coming down when absolutely necessary. She was so afraid of Pip (despite the fact that he was half her size) that we began to worry about things ever going back to normal.
At this point Pip was spending most of his day knocking over everything and anything in our house. Dirt was everywhere. (Honestly, dirt is still everywhere.) He ate every meal as though it was his last, shoving his head so fast and hard into the food bowl that the pieces would fly across the room. If Natty and Mowgli were sleeping soundly, he would quickly wake them up by jumping on their heads. If a window was open, Pip was climbing the screen. If a cup of water was left unattended, it was soon knocked over. If Pip woke up before us in the morning, he would jump on the bedside table and make sure we were up too. He didn’t like to use the litter box, and instead went in our house plants. It was Pip’s world, we were just living in it.
And that’s when the idea came to us. The house needed a break, Natty and Mowgli definitely needed a break, so why not take Pip outside for a walk?
We had all the supplies we needed already. Leashes and harnesses had been purchased for Natty and Mowgli years ago when they transitioned from being outdoor cats in the Polish countryside to indoor cats in the city of Krakow. So we put Natty’s harness and leash on Pip and threw him in a carrier.
When we got to the beach for the first time, I put Pip down on the ground, he smelled the sand and began to dig a bit, then he climbed under Jack laying on a towel and relaxed.
We quickly realized a few things about Pip…
He liked to dig.
He liked to lay.
He liked to hide under people’s beach chairs.
He was obsessed with trying to get into the dunes (we never let him).
And he liked to run!
Over the last few weeks of summer we took Pip to the beach all the time. He would run around a bit, play with a toy or two, and then pass out for a nap. Sometimes he would go for a walk a couple blocks, chase seagull feathers, or roll around with shells.
Then one day the tide was super low, and the waves were only an inch or two tall, so we let Pip explore the water. He felt his first wave and it didn’t bother him at all.
We made him a little mound of sand on the sandbar and he watched the waves go around him.
Then we put him on a boogie board for the first time. He caught a little wave and stayed on the board! When the board hit the shore, he hopped off, and just walked along the beach like everything was normal. That’s when we knew that Pip was a very special cat.
Pip wasn’t technically supposed to even be on the beach at this time, so he would have to hide in the sand if Beach Patrol was nearby!
As summer ended, Pip’s time outside began to dwindle, but just before the water got cold, we took him out on a paddle board for the first time. Staying very close to the dock, Pip began to understand balancing on the water, and by the second time he went out, he was an expert!
Pip has never shown a fear for anything. He hops into the car, ready for whatever is next, and even handled our 11 hour ride to Georgia and back with ease. He is hesitant of dogs, and does puff up to protect himself, but doesn’t run away to hide. If water gets on him, he doesn’t even flinch. Pip truly is an adventure cat. One day he spent hours playing on Assateague with a family that he met for the first time!
All cats are different, and its important that we explore their interests. Pip lets us know when he doesn’t want to do something by making certain noises so we always know when he’s not happy with an activity. We’ve learned that if we don’t take him out on a regular basis to explore, he will retaliate by tearing our house apart.
We also used wet food as an incentive for our older cats and Pip to share a meal together. In the beginning, when they shared wet food was the only time they would be in the same room together. But over the span of a month or two, sharing this special food together made them less and less angry with each other. They associated one another with this good experience, and now they spend a lot of their time together!
If you want to learn more fun facts about Pip visit: 43 Things You May Not Know About Pip the Beach Cat!
Now that it is winter, Pip can’t go outside as much, but the local arcades in Ocean City let him come play whenever he wants! Check him out here!
And don’t worry- Pip and Natty and Mowgli are all friends now! (Most of the time!)