Sunday, April 22, 2012

How I became a crazy cat lady – Part 3

Tigger's Turn

My story about Tigger is really more Hubby’s story.  She was really his cat.  Not so much by his choice but very much by hers.  However, since hubby doesn’t blog and he seemed to appreciate the tale (haa haa) of Shadow, he has entrusted me to tell the story of this crazy, possessive, jealous, beautiful Maine Coon kitty.

It was all my own fault, really.

We were owned by Shadow for about a year when we realized that perhaps she was lonely all day when we were both at work.  Granted, she probably slept most of that time, but still, there is nothing better to clear a sleepy head than a good solid ass kicking provided to another family member.  Yep, she was something of an alpha cat and she obviously needed to keep something in line because a lot of her training was lost on us.

So, I started looking.  I worked in a mall and during my lunch breaks I would walk down to Olga’s Kitchen (which I really miss by the way), passing the pet shop along the way.  One day, I peered into the pet shop window (this was back in the day where buying animals from these stores was still socially acceptable) and saw some adorable kittens playing.  I found the nearest payphone (I know, right? How quaint) and called the hubster. (We weren’t married yet, but it’s just easier to call him that then go back and forth between boyfriend, fiancĂ©e and hubby. We’re gonna stick with the end result.)

I probably went on about how cute these kitties were for about 10 minutes until hubster mentioned that we had to both get back to work.  I hung up, then continued my shift at Kauffmann’s until it was time to head home. 

When I opened up the door to our little brick oven apartment that night, the hubby was there to greet me – with a big honkin’ smile on his face.  He had a surprise to show me – but it was hidden under our bed, so I had to go take a look.  Meanwhile, Shadow is hanging around two feet away from the bed, randomly hissing at something that is hidden under it… I get down on my hands and knees and take a peek under the bedspread – and there is this rather large guinea pig thing looking back out at me. I aks him – “What the hell is that?”

He responds, “That is the kitty you were telling me about on the phone.  I went to the pet store and bought her to surprise you.”

Being the ungrateful bitch that I am, I tell him that isn’t the kitty I was talking about and the critter under the bed looks like an overgrown hamster with cowlicks.  Then he tells me what happened when he went to the pet store.

Apparently, he went in and asked the salesperson about the kitties he saw in the window.  The sales person hands him this big fluff ball and as soon as hubster picks her up, she snuggles into him, digs her claws into his sweater, looks up at him and starts purring… loudly.  He looks at the sales person and says, “I guess I’m taking this one.”

After he tells me this, I give him a great big hug and tell him, “Of course you had to bring her home.”  I don’t think I could have resisted that kind of snuggle manipulation either.  We then decide to give her a bath to get the pet store smell off of her (and check for fleas and the like) and towel her dry.  She was pretty good about the whole getting a bath thing – much more so than her older adopted sister.

From then on, Tom belonged to Tigger.  She followed him everywhere.  If he was sitting at his desk, she was either on the desk behind him or on the roll out shelf that was part of his desk.  If he was busy doing homework, she would insist on climbing up on his lap and snuggling in.  We started calling her “Tom’s familiar.” She rarely tolerated anyone picking her up outside of Tom or me and I am fairly certain she just barely tolerated me.

She also had a nasty jealous streak when it came to her human.  Whenever I tried to snuggle up to him, she would insist on getting in between us.  It was especially noticeable when we went to bed.  If I tried to spoon Tom for warmth in the winter, she would walk up the bed, onto the pillow and position herself between our heads, purring loudly, until I moved away.  Then she would get between us to sleep.  If we were sitting on the couch, same thing – she always had to be between us.  She would sometimes hiss or swat at the other cats that were looking for his attention. 

Other than her possessive streak, and her penchant for having litter box issues, she was a sweet kitty.  She had a tiny squeaky voice that was amusing coming from a cat of such girth.  But she did have the best purr I have ever heard.  There had been more than one occasion where it would lull one (or both of us) to sleep.

But sadly, after 18 years, the day came where we had to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep.  Her kidneys were shutting down, she had lost a tremendous amount of weight and she was weak.  This was hardest on Tom, because she was his baby and he knew how much he would miss her.  He also felt like he was betraying her trust with this last act, even though it was the necessary choice.

When we took her to the vets that day, they took her away to put in the IV line for the euthanasia drugs.  When they brought her back, they gave her to Tom so he could hold her to say goodbye. When he picks her up, she snuggles into him, digs her claws into his sweater, looks up at him and starts purring… loudly.

And on that sunny August day, she said goodbye in the same manner as how she said hello. And less than two minutes later, she was gone.

We miss you, Tigs.  Your human, Tom, misses you most of all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

how I got sucked into being a crazy cat lady - Part 2

Most of our days together passed semi-quietly, with the notable exception of her singing her little semi-Siamese heart out at 3 AM or tormenting her adopted sisters.  Then one day, we noticed that the little monster was losing weight.  She was already plenty skinny, so it’s not like she could afford to do so (unlike her pleasantly plump siblings).  We took her to the vet (which is always a delight – not) and they performed all sorts of tests on her.  The news wasn’t good.  She had a tumor on her thyroid and it wasn’t something they could just remove via an operation.  We were given three options:
1.       Do nothing, which in effect, meant she would eventually starve to death. (So, not happening.)
2.       Pill her every day, which in effect meant she would probably kill us in our sleep. (Also not a realistic option.)
3.       Nuke her, which in effect meant her going to a place that specialized in radiation treatment for cats. 
The last option was the most expensive option, but she was my baby, she was only 12, and I was not about to let her go yet.  Hubster resigned himself on coughing up over $1,000 dollars and off she went.  She was there for two weeks until she reached a minimum safe radioactivity level.  (At this point, I wished I had purchased a Geiger counter just so I could see it go off when I pointed at her- but it was a little expensive just for a few weeks of fun.)

There were conditions that we had to agree to before we brought her home.  Since I was trying to get all in the parental way at the time, I could not go near her for a month (which just killed me.)  We had to hang on to her dirty litter for two weeks (which makes me wonder how much radiation I absorbed with it hanging out in the house all that time.)  And neither one of us could play with her for more than two minutes at a time.  But she was alive, and on her way to better health – so we agreed.

She was fine for a while after that.  Then we realized she was gaining too much weight and sleeping on top of the heat registers in the house.  Back to the vets she went and we found out that they had totally nuked her thyroid completely, so now it was non-functioning.  We had two options:
1.       Do nothing, which in effect, meant she would eventually go into a coma and die. (So, not happening.)
2.       Pill her every day, which in effect meant she would probably kill us in our sleep. (Now a more realistic option.)
We opted for the second choice, and at first she was pretty good about it.  Then she started fighting us, and then we started hiding it in her favorite food – shrimp.  An expensive taste is what that one had. 
Life returned to semi-normal after that, until one night, I was lying in bed about to drop off to sleep when I heard this thumping noise which sounded exactly like a cat falling down the stairs from the attic. I ran out of bed to discover that was precisely what it was and at the bottom of the steps was my poor little black kitty twitching.  I screamed for the hubster (he was up in the attic, at his computer with his headphones on.)  I thought she was dead, but she was still twitching.  I grabbed the phone to call the emergency animal hospital service.  They were telling me that it would be 200 dollars just to bring her in and then suddenly, in the middle of the phone call, Shadow stopped twitching, stood up and started walking around in circles.  Then I knew she had experienced a seizure. 
Back to the vet’s we went.  And I was right, the vet agreed that she had a seizure and there was no need for any more expensive tests.  She said that Shadow most likely had a tumor on her brain and there was nothing that could be done.  She loaded me up with meds for the kitty, to keep her comfortable and to lessen the frequency of the seizures, and I brought her home.  We gave her as much love as we could, spoiled her rotten with shrimp and tuna, and let her continue to rule the roost.  She had seizures still, and they started getting closer and closer together and lasting longer and longer, until one inevitable yet dreadful night, she had one that she never seemed to recover from. 
Tom and I held her, scritched her, rocked her and loved her until we took her to the vets.  There was nothing more that could be done, and we made the heartbreaking decision that it was time to let her go. We talked to her while they injected her with the sedatives, then the euthanasia medicine, we told her we loved her and I told her that she was now free to go chase those bats. Then, on that cold day of January 19, 2009, we said good-bye.

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