Friday, June 18, 2004

I used to like cats

We have three cats – Katmandu, Cassatt and Cleo. It’s a blended cat family, Brady Bunch style – the girl cats (Katmandu and Cassatt) came with me when I moved into Tom’s house; the boy cats (Cleo, and Lionel, who was sent to a home for wayward cats) were Tom’s. Having cats was no preparation for the demands of parenting children, but we did get to practice saying such things as “YOUR cat just did such and such”.

I’ve nearly always lived with cats, to the point where people think I’m a “cat person” and like cat related gifts. I don’t. So please, if you’re thinking about getting me a present, don’t get me anything with a cat on it. No cat earrings, cat notepaper, cat statutes, or cat pins. I already have them.

Our cats are getting pretty old (16, 15 and 10) and they have each have their little things about them. Katmandu has arthritis and must be going deaf, judging from the volume at which she believes she needs to meow, especially in the middle of the night. We have no idea why she does this – is she lonely? Thirsty? What? Regardless, her meowing wakes up the baby, and given that full nights of sleep are still very precious around here, she has been banished to the basement at night. She’s too slow to get away from William, and luckily she’s extremely patient with his head butts (how he says hello – my future WWE star!), as well as his crawling over and stepping on her.

Cassatt has diabetes, and requires an insulin shot twice a day. I always worry that the pharmacist thinks I’m a heroin addict when I go to buy the needles we give the insulin with. Tom’s parents claimed that children would be a piece of cake for us after dealing with Cassatt’s diabetes. So far, I’d disagree - you can't put out a bowl of Purina Kid Chow and call it dinner - but I do like William a lot more than I like my cats. Cassatt lately has been acting more and more like an addict herself around both water and food – furtively drinking from the sink, the garden hose, leftover glasses of water we leave around. Last night she snagged a cooked chicken breast off the stove. Between this behavior and her scratching William across the face this morning, she is this week’s candidate for Least Favored Cat status. The vet says Cassatt is starting kidney failure and we need to put her on some special food, but I’m not sure I care enough.

Cleo is a little more spry, but is exceptionally emotionally needy, and will do almost anything to get petted. His redeeming quality lately is that anything he does makes William laugh.

It’s not really Cassatt’s fault that William got scratched on the face – she’s really a moody, bitchy cat (except to me, mostly) and has scratched other children, so I expected this to happen at some point. I didn’t realize that she was sitting in the chair he was using to practice standing with, but he squawked excitedly in her face at eye level and that was that. He was just so disappointed when it happened.

I feel kind of bad about it, but I’m ready to be done with cats for a while. I’m tired of cat fur on my clothing, snags on my furniture, cat stinks, having to budget for the expensive in-home cat sitting visits for insulin shots when we want to go away overnight. A couple of years ago when I made a furtive attempt to use Quicken to try to get a handle on our finances, I found out that we spent more on cat care (food, vet visits, cat sitting) than we’d spent on clothes for ourselves in a year. OK, honestly, it’s not like we’re fashion mavens by any stretch of the imagination so perhaps it’s a bad point of comparison.

We placed Tom’s other cat Lionel in a no-kill cat shelter a couple of years ago after we’d had it with his spraying. Lionel peeing on Tom’s electric guitar was the last straw. Believe me when I say we tried EVERYTHING short of antidepressants (for the cat, though we needed them too at that point) before taking that step. We couldn’t figure out what made him spray, and after 5 years (jesus, how pathetic does that sound?) we’d had it. Tom had been through a lot with this cat, and it was a really hard decision to send Lionel away. I haven’t seen Tom cry very many times in our 11 years together, but leaving the shelter after placing Lionel was one of them. We noticed that everyone else in our household was a lot calmer after he was gone and we weren’t constantly screaming at the cats to stop doing something.

I really do like animals in general, and I’m not going to start offing my cats, but I will happily welcome another phase of life that doesn’t include living with cats.


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