Saturday, February 11, 2012

Never own a pet if you don’t want your heart broken

AKA: how I got sucked into being a crazy cat lady

I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time. I just never knew how to start the story of how Tom and I wound up being cat people. And I never knew how to really end the stories of the three kitties in such a way that people could honestly understand why we take their passing so hard. It is due to selfishness that I write this entry. It is to ensure that neither one of us forget of how our lives were so enriched by the wee beasties (or otherwise known as “little shits” – a term that we use most affectionately.) It is also to let our friends know about their different personalities and how special each and every pet we own (or as in these three cases, are owned by) is to us. This will be a multi-part series as there is much to tell. Particularly of the first cat to enter our lives – Shadow.

Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl. They had been friends for a long, long while but decided on the crazy idea of dating. Not long after implementing this plan, boy moved out of his parents’ house and rented an apartment with a friend. Girl spend as much time over there as possible, mainly to get away from her parents (because moving back in with them after four years of freedom was not the best idea in the world and caused much consternation among all those involved.) Boy and girl discussed many things during these heady months of a new romance – one of which was pet ownership. Boy never had a real pet (because, let’s face it, fish are not snuggly and hamsters are too high strung to stay still for very long) and girl had two dogs while she was growing up. Boy spoke often of wanting a pet, but realized that dog ownership wasn’t really in the cards as long as he was an apartment dweller. Girl often spoke of wanting a cat but couldn’t have one because her grandmother was irrationally terrified of them. (Grandmother’s words, not girl’s.)

One day, about a year after they had met, boy surprised girl with some news. His sister’s boyfriend’s cat had a litter of kittens, and would she be interested in adopting one. Girl could have not been more ecstatic. Not long after, boy and girl went to that other guy’s house to pick out which adorable fuzzball would come home with them. Girl sat in a small room, among the kittens and waited. One tiny little black ball of fur wandered over to her, and attacked her hand. It sunk its little needle like claws and teeth into her fingers and girl instantly scooped it up and said “This one!” (Apparently, girl is a little bit of a masochist.) And with that declaration, boy and girl put the kitten in a box and drove it home.

Boy had mentioned at one point that he had always wanted a black cat and he wanted to name this one Spectre. Girl couldn’t think of a better name and was so grateful for finally getting a kitty, that she went with it. However, boy’s idiot friend decided that Spectre sounded too much link sphincter so boy and girl changed the cat’s name to Shadow.

Shadow was a troublemaker from day one. She would climb pretty much anything she could, including curtains and boy’s mother’s pants whenever she came over. Boy set up empty beer cases along one of the walls in the apartment as a staircase, so Shadow could run up and down them. Usually, she’d run up to the top and just perch there like a vulture (which soon became her nickname) for hours on end. She would climb Christmas trees and knock them over; she would climb bookcases and furniture and just stare at everyone from the top, looking down upon us all as the peons that we were to her.

But boy and girl were so enamored by this little fur beastie, they took her everywhere with them. Girl would often go and pick Shadow up at the apartment and take her back to her parents’ house, where the little monster would spend all her time inspecting the porch, pouncing on bugs and causing general mayhem. Boy and girl took the silly thing to their cabin up in the Adirondacks where she would chase snakes, climb trees and watch the ducks. One could almost smell the smoke of her thinking about how to catch the ducks without actually getting wet.

Boy eventually got his own apartment and girl eventually moved in with him. After about a year of being adopted by Shadow, girl saw a little kitty looking for a home at a pet store close to her place of employment. She told boy and boy went out and brought a kitty home from said pet store. It wasn’t the cat that girl had spied earlier that day – as a matter of fact, she said that this kitty looked more like a giant nappy guinea pig. Shadow was not pleased with the new interloper either. She spent the first two days hissing at the new kitty and keeping it confined to the dark recesses under the bed. Not long after that, girl called boy from work again, talking about yet another wee fur face that was in dire need of a good home. This time they went to the pet store together and brought home the second interloper. (Which Shadow and Tigger tormented together.) It was decided at this point that girl could no longer walk by the pet store, because they were teetering on the edge of being “cat people.”

Then things got really serious between boy and girl and they decided to get married and buy a house (though not in that order.) After moving into the new residence with the three cats in tow, Shadow went missing. Boy and girl spent much time searching the new house to figure out where she could have gone. They could hear her meowing, but could not figure out where it was coming from. Eventually they figured out that she had climbed up the stack of the house, into the drop ceiling of the basement. They figured she would come down eventually, at least to eat. Until then, they couldn’t block off the only way she could get in and out of that area. Then, late one night when they were watching TV, a ceiling tile came crashing down on the dryer, and the cat along with it. Girl captured the wily critter and locked her away until boy blocked off her ceiling express lane.

Life went about its business and Shadow spent much of her time jumping up on things, singing through the night and getting into things she shouldn’t have been able to get into. If anyone opened a cupboard, she would run in and hide when they were not looking. There were many times that someone would be in the kitchen and the drawers would start getting pushed out from behind. Then early one morning, girl woke up to a new sound. It was 5 AM and there was the pitter patter of four little feet running above their heads, but it didn’t sound like the kitties chasing each other. It was run run run, thump, run run run run, thump. Girl decided to get up and investigate – and there she was, Shadow, running back in forth in the attic, chasing a bat. And that became one of girl’s very first blog entries. (This is from August 1, 2001.)

Did we just kill Dracula -

Or(aka)Where is Ozzy when you need him?

Much to my amazement, there was a bat in my belfry this morning. No, seriously... well, ok... attic is probably a more appropriate description. Now, this is not the first time I have ever seen a bat, but it was the first time I had ever seen one so close... and most certainly the first time I have ever seen my prim and proper but dysfunctional part Siamese cat chasing one. But I guess since a bat is just a mouse with wings, she was just heeding her call to of the wild. Which is fine, except I don't want to have to be the one cleaning up the mess if she ever actually caught it. Nor would I want to clean up the guano from some obscure hard to reach corner. Nor would I want to have to find it by following my nose to some teeny crack in the drywall after it started decomposing... so the choice seemed very simple to me...

wake up the hubster, and make him take care of it...

Now, mind you, I am not one of those helpless female types that goes screaming everytime an uninvited guest happens into our happy home... I kill my own spiders, thank you very much, but since men are born as the hunter/gatherers of the tribe, I felt it was his job to corral or kill the offending party. To be honest though, neither one of us were big on killing the helpless little creature, because it may not have known the rules. He might have not taken the left turn at Albuquerque like he should have, but by no means does that warrant the death penalty. (besides, we have more offensive invited guests... and we haven't killed any of them... yet... but none of them are worthy of us spending jail time on anyway.)

Hubster was still half asleep when I exclaimed that our petite kitty was chasing a bat, and jumping around like a lunatic to try to catch it (which was the whole reason I even investigated the attic) and he thought that I was being delusional... it was, after all 5 AM in the morning. But once he verified the supposed sighting, he got dressed and shut himself and kitty in the attic with our little rodent guest. He said he just wanted to catch it and let it loose outside and I did agree with him... but... what if the damn thing had rabies? Is the little guy worth getting a series of shots in the stomach? (Do they even do that anymore?) And at that point, the critter would have to be killed anyway.
So, after knocking the poor thing senseless with one of my dress shoes (trust me, you could take out a grown man with one of my shoes) and then losing it for a few minutes, my husband called down to me to come up with a flashlight and help him look for it.
I got dressed
grabbed the flashlight
went up the stairs, and spotted it right away.
In the darkest corner, behind the cat toys.
I pointed it out to him and he kept saying
"No, that is just the toy mouse they keep hiding. You bought it and gave it to them."
"Yes, and I am telling you right now that you cannot confuse one of the toys with a bat. They don't have wings, and they are all plaid... this one is brown."
he pushed the object in question with a piece of packing foam rubber, and it turned and started making this indescribable noise. Hubster turned and looked at his rather smug wife at this point, then picked up a 2 x 4. Well, we all know the end of this story... poor little guy...
We both feel really bad about it
But the cat was rather arrogant the rest of the morning

End of Part 1

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