Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Next Pet Is a Cat

This is a continuation of My First Pet, My Second Pet and The Next Pet is not a Cat ...

December 2007. At this point in our lives, we have had our large dog for six years, my wife is coping with the chronic pain of Transverse Myelitis, and my mother has just died.

I've been on the blood type diet for almost eight months, so I'm starting to wonder if I'm still allergic to cats. The reason I wonder this is because many of my other allergy symptoms have gone away. But more importantly, my wife reminds me that she misses having a cat to hold and squeeze:

"But I thought you said we can't have a cat because we live on a busy road," I say, trying to work out the complexities of the female mind.

"We'll just have to keep the cat indoors, that's all."

"Ah, but I thought you said that cats need to be let outside to run free," I counter, feeling the ground shifting out from under me.

"They do, but we can't do that," she says, clearly winning the discussion.

"" is my reply.

Soon she has contacted a No Kill Cat Shelter (on PetFinder1) in a nearby town and talked with the owner. We have three recommendations for "a tough, sturdy cat who can live with a dog," and an appointment to meet them.

We go to the shelter with the carrier that we used to pick up our puppy, who, incredibly, was once cat-sized. We see many cats, both in cages and out. Many are sleeping -- it is the middle of the day, after all.

One of the recommended cats is a black and white American Shorthair, a tuxedo, with funny asymmetry on his face. He seems to be the favorite. Indeed, his curiosity leads him to enter our carrier. And thus we are Chosen. I close the door to the carrier, and we go.2

He cries out loudly in protest during the entire 30 minute trip home.

When we get home, we put the dog on leash on the main level, and bring the cat down into the lower level where the litter box is. We provide food and water, too. Some cats will run under a bed or sofa after leaving the cat carrier, but this guy simply goes exploring.

Eventually he finds the dog. The dog sees the cat and lunges. I brace myself, with the one hand on the leash; the other on a door jam. The cat hisses and arches his back, like a Halloween cat. I hold back the dog. "No!" The dog actually understands after about five minutes. The cat understands, too. He understands that he's the Boss.

After a few days, he loses all fear of the dog and starts launching quick ambush attacks at him. He also brings us offerings, as if we are Gods of the Land of Canned Food and need to be appeased. The gifts are plastic-wrapped items from the basement and laundry room.

A few days later, he catches his first mouse. The dog is appalled and finds refuge in a remote room in the house while the cat enjoys inflicting mouse torture.

The cat decides he likes me best. My wife gets mad whenever he chooses my lap to rest in. I can't help it if I smell attractive to cats.

I find myself wanting to call my mother to tell her about the cat. And I find myself taking pictures of the cat. But many pictures come out unfocused because the auto-focus just can't deal with furry creatures. Eventually I buy another camera just so I can take good shots of the cat.

And thus we are again owned by a cat.

1 Please consider adopting a pet. Visit PetFinder and search the listings near your town for a new companion!

2 The adoption process is a bit more involved than the way I portray it above. We filled out an application first before visiting the shelter. Then after we chose our pet (or he chose us), we signed an agreement that said that we would keep the cat indoors and that we would not declaw the cat. We also paid a nominal "donation" fee. The fee helps defray the cost of shots and neutering. In fact, if you were to get a free kitten from someone, you'd have to pay a lot more for the vet exam, shots and neutering.


rummuser said...

I have been toying with the idea of getting myself a pet. Somehow a cat does not appeal to me as much as a dog does, but for the latter, I need to be more agile and ready to take it out for exercise etc, which with my physical condition is a bit scary. I may end up with a cat after all.

Tirsden Frozenrayn said...

I still want a ferret badly (would settle for a cat, but ferrets are soooo much fun)... sigh. Yay for the "no pets" rule... though squirrels in the air vents is a-okay! *scratches head*

This kitty... if memory serves, I know how the story ends. For sake of not spoilering it, I won't say more. Shelters are definitely the way to go, though, as pet stores tend to get animals from puppy/cat farms and even the ferrets can be of questionable decent and treatment. Plus, every critter in a shelter needs a home!

The Bumbles said...

A very true portrayal of how those little fur balls take over your heart. It only seems to work when a non-cat person gets snookered into "allowing" one to live in their home and is involved in the selection process. Lap kitties are especially adept at this process.

And re your comment on our Copper Beech tree photos - yes we have been to that sycamore tree in Simsbury - stopped to say hello to the big guy on our way to the Heublein Tower trail one pretty sunny summer day. Didn't have a camera with me for some odd reason - I think that must have been before digital. I didn't go around taking pictures all willy nilly back in the day of film.