I’ve been complaining for years about the alienation of affection issue I have with my cats. Moving across the country created a neuroses in Moses that rivals anything I’ve written about personally here, and my children ruined the Blue Cat (Blutus, if you must know)for lap cat status. Even though she is a tolerant cat, allowing Jack to rub his face along her (blue velvet) fur every morning and afternoon – he likes the texture of silky things – she is not, and will never be, a lap cat, a close proximity cat, a….pliable cat.
In short, both of my adult cats, through circumstance related to-caused by, I will admit-US-are standoffish to the extreme even beyond the usual cat nature.
So, I’ve complained. I’ve threatened halfheartedly to get a kitten whenever the Blue Cat stood up peckishly and flounced off just because I put my face at her end of the bed. Michael never tires of pointing out that she IS me: particular, hot/cold, black/white, and only interested in company on her own terms. However, she’s very loyal: If I’m inside, she is in the room with me. If I go out the door, she follows. If she’s on the wrong side of the door, she’ll sit near glass and peer through it until someone finds her there. If I stayed in bed for three days I’ve no doubt that cat would do the same.)
That’s why when the carrier containing kittens showed up outside the feed store a few weeks ago with the huge sign on it that said “free”, it felt like an omen that this was the one day my kids were with me on my trip to buy milk and eggs.
“OMG! MOM! Can we go see the kittens please please please!?” My daughter was jumping out of her skin as I entered the store, where Michael had quickly whisked the kids, distracting them with the baby chicks and rabbits.
I was already holding a kitten.
I’d forgotten a few things about kittens, and by saying “it’s your call, honey. You’ve been saying you wanted a lap cat for a long time!” With that one sentence, my husband effectively washed his hands of any responsibility for the duties associated with these things.
I’ve probably never told you all how, when we lived in Long Beach, I parked my car on a sketchy street to make an appointment at a free clinic and when I went to lock the car I heard faint mewling coming from beside a chain link fence? There were two little balls of fur huddled against the fence and each other, on the sidewalk side. Their eyes, which were barely old enough to be open anyway, were crusted shut. I left them there and started walking because I was late. But they’d already heard my voice, so they started walking toward me anyway, blind. Sigh. Of COURSE I missed the appointment and took them home. Of COURSE we didn’t know what flea dirt was back then, so when we bathed them we thought they were dying and took them to the emergency vet in the middle of the night, where they depleted our savings account. Then we stayed up all night drying them in the heat of our gas fireplace. Oh, oceanfront apartment in Long Beach. Take us back!
But that’s not the point of the story, which is that when you take in one kitten that needs rescuing, more will find you because God Hates People Who Take In Stray Animals.
After we found homes for these two kittens, a child tried to sell my genetically-programmed-to-care-for-sick-things daughter a kitten out of a backpack at the playground. Off to the playground I went, where I confiscated four very small, emaciated kittens. We kept one: Moses, who we later brought with us to Florida. I’ve often said he couldn’t be improved upon, so I wouldn’t take the chance with another cat. But he’s 10 now, and we see him very little, as he spends more and more time outside, preferring the cool privacy of the crawlspace to the frenetic energy of my four and six year old. His recent mouth infection and the oral antibiotics we were forced to give him may have been the deciding factor in his final exit from the house. (But, we live in the country. It could be that he’s doing what cats naturally do when they get old)
In the years since we lived in Long Bach, we’ve cared for several litters of kittens that, due to the horrible problem of unspayed/unneutered cats, are born each year..
And so The Universe said, “What the fuck, you’re the Great Complainer and there are all those plaques that say “Be Careful What You Wish For”, you dumb fuck, you REALLY should listen lest ye be smote.”
The day I walked through the door from taking the little kitten to the clinic for her free 78.00 surgery, my cousin walked in right behind me with ANOTHER FUCKING KITTEN, not even 1/3 as large, that had been sitting in the road being passed over by traffic that same morning as I’d been on my way to the vet. Here I am cheerfully waving at my uncle with his hand hand held high out the truck window and what he’s actually doing was holding a cat up in the air trying to get my attention before I drove away. Ah, family. Why bother using a cell number.
Things I would like to remember about small animals, and perhaps my experience will help another person out there who is dissatisfied with their current situation and contemplating a change:
Babies are babies in any language. Babies need care in any species. Small=cute but small also=touching. All touching all the time. Example:
This is how I sleep now. I’m not kidding
Small animals in the country=hawk food=inside=litterboxes. Very small kittens mean cleaning up kitten shit. Small anything alive means cleaning up shit. Please, for the love of god, remember that small things produce large secretions. And you will, mamas: YOU WILL BE THE ONE TO CLEAN IT UP. YOUR NOSE WILL SMELL IT. YOUR HANDS WILL TOUCH IT. AND YOUR BODY WILL BE THE ONE THE SMALL THING WILL BE RESTING UPON WHEN THE ACCIDENT OCCURS. BELIEVE IT. This is nobody’s fault. It is a law of the Universe and also a consequence of your greediness and vocal complaints about alienation of affection from your perfectly good if a little standoffish, accident-free, shitless pets.e="clear: both; text-align: center;">
Not Shitting. Anywhere Near or On Me.