Today marks the third anniversary of my adoption of the Cats of Win, Kermit and Otis. Obviously, I am in Ireland right now (well, not right now but by the time you read this I will be. So we’re only pretending today is the real day…Oh my god it’s like I’m in an episode of LOST. My head hurts.) so I cannot celebrate with my kitties but I can at least reflect and tell you the tale of how these two boogers came into my life.
Little did I know then what horrors are wrapped cute packages.
Rewind to April 19th, 2007 ak The Worst Day of My Life. I lost my cat Mr. Destiny and in his wake was a deafening silence. A silence that I was initially only happy to wallow in for a while. My plan was to wait a respectable amount of time after his passing, let my heart heal a little bit, and eventually go to a nice shelter and pick out a loving, calm, low-key and cuddly adult cat. That was the plan.
By Memorial Day Weekend (a holiday here in the states that happens the 4th weekend of May) I was a total wreck. I came home from a five-day volunteer excursion to an empty apartment filled with the now terrible, unwelcoming silence. There was no cat to miss me, to greet me when I came in the door, no cat to meow or rub up against my ankles – purring despite the fact that I was dirty, tired and kind of ripe smelling – and give me a piece of his mind about how I oughtn’t to leave him for so long and by God woman, I am your baby and you must love me now. There was nothing. It broke my heart and I knew I couldn’t go any further without another cat.
By the next weekend, I was a total madwoman on a mission: OPERATION ADOPT KITTY!
I knew from the get-go I would avoid my local humane society like the plague. Not that they don’t have decent facilities, but they’re notorious for being kind of jerky. I didn’t want to deal with that. We had to trek to a family members house about 20 minutes east of where I currently live and in that town a friend called me to let me know that there were cats and kittens at the local PetSmart – their adoption facility run by the group Kittens in Need.
Again, I said, NO KITTENS! CAT! CAT!
So I get dropped off at this PetSmart and I go to their small but well used and clean, warm facility. Hm. Slim pickin’ as far as I was concerned. I like solid colored cats simply because my family has a history of getting along with them better and having what in some cultures would be referred to as DEMON POSSESSION when it came to striped cats. Yes, it’s a shitty prejudice to have and no, not every single striped/pattern cat I have ever met was the devil incarnate – but I like solid colored cats.
Now, Mr. Destiny as a black cat and I love, love, love black cats but even then I knew I was not emotionally ready for another black cat. No way. It would hurt too much. My goal was to find a gray cat or two. I say two because it was also a secret goal of mine to adopt two at a time because Mr. Destiny grew into such an only child syndrome that he loathed all other felines. Having two would be awesome because then my little dude would have another little dude for a playmate! And yes I said little dude because I intended to adopt two males. Again, good experiences with male cats = patterns in adoption.
Anyway, I wasn’t really feelin’ those cats at the adoption center though I tried to bond with one little kitten that in my gut I knew would be trouble with a capitol T. She was just too rowdy for my liking. Oh, she’d make a great addition for anyone who likes a super playful kitty but I’m more of a LET’S LIE DOWN TOGETHER AND WATCH THE PEOPLE’S COURT kind of cat mom, you know?
Joni, the super nice woman in charge of the cat adoption, told me about a Russian blue she was fostering at home. He was skittish and would probably never fully adjust to people but he is slowly coming out of his shell. He really likes to hide under tables, would that be a problem? ERRRR I guess not?
I went back to my relatives home and told my mom about the two candidates, neither of which I was too crazy about. She was against adopting another cat this soon anyway so no matter what I told her she was dubious. However, being the supportive woman that she is, she accompanied me back to the adoption center later that afternoon. When I pointed out the kitten her eyes went wide with terror as she saw all of her precious reupholstered furniture being shredded.
“Hell to the no!” (OK, maybe she didn’t say those exact words but you get the idea)
As I stood there, dissatisfied and lonely, a woman walked up to Joni, a pet carrier in her hands. She said that her fosters reached 10 weeks old and were ready to join the kitty adoption system. Joni unlatched the door and took out three teeny kittens – a solid light gray cat with wombat ears, a solid black kitten and a teeny, tiny solid dark gray kitten with the sweetest little pout ever. The two gray cats were male.
MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE!
I pounced on those two so fast ~ my mom took the bigger, light gray male and I took the runty one. We snuggled them close and bonded instantly.
“You can only get one,” she warned.
“But he needs a friend!” I insisted, kissing my new baby atop his sweet little head.
“I think you should adopt this one,” she said, holding up her cat. “He’s sweet. Yours is small and grumpy looking.”
“I KNOW I LOVE HIM AND HIS NAME IS OTIS.”
“Uh, ew. Otis? Ew. No, I think you should get this one.”
“I think we should get both. They’re brothers. You don’t want to break them up.”
“If you’re going to seriously make me choose one, I am going to adopt this one.” I held up my little grump runt.
I put them on hold and said I would be back the next morning – I needed to definitely let me brain calm down and let logic try to come to an agreement with my emotions. I knew I would be financially responsible for them, and at the time I had a nice paying job that would allow me to care for them nicely. Money wasn’t an issue. I loved them and they got along, that wasn’t an issue. Mom was kind of a sourpuss about it, especially with two, and I felt bad for the emotional blackmail but knew she would come to love them both anyway and that wouldn’t be too much of an issue. No, I only had one issue and it was with myself: I did not stick to the plan. I was adopting kittens. Not that they did not need a home, but I was feeling guilty for not sticking to my guns and looking for a sweet adult cat who needed a forever home. Still, I put that guilt aside and the next day my friend Annie adopted the cats for me in a beautiful THIS IS A HUGE BIRTHDAY/CHRISTMAS GIFT YOU BETTER LOVE THEM FOREVER, BITCH gesture.
So I packed them up in brand new carriers and took them home, totally unaware how many gray hairs and raw nerves I was in store for.
Kermit: made from 100% cat
I don’t remember what the foster mother told me about my cats. I really wish I remembered because it would provide so much insight into their neurotic behavior. Whatever she told me wasn’t much because I believe their cat mom just kind of showed up one day, pregnant – or maybe with her kittens. I have no idea. I have speculated to no end about their breed and their brief but all too vital time with their cat mom – these two important yet sadly unknown factors have played leading role in what I like to refer to as My Cats are Freakin’ Nuts.
First, the chewing and consumption of inedible, dangerous objects. Like wires. I have attended more funerals for wires – headphone wires, charger wires, etc. – than I have for humans and that is not an exaggeration. We didn’t know how bad Kermit’s chewing problem was until close to his first birthday his belly became swollen, he became listless and super grumpy. Come to find out he went into the bathroom cupboard and started to pull out a plethora of Q-Tips one by one began to eat them whole.
He had surgery on his first birthday.
Wicker cat condo: $50. Frisbee: Free.
We now have baby locks on the bathroom cupboards. BABY. LOCKS.
Kermit has a nervous disorder, and we recognized that if he does not get to knead (when cats push their front paws against an object/person, nuzzle and purring, mimicking nursing) he will go nuts and look for anything to chew on. Plastic, wire, cardboard, shoelaces, it really doesn’t matter. This is the only association we have put together with the behavior. He doesn’t like to be cuddled or held, but when he wants to crawl up to you and knead by god you better sit still and hope I’ve cut his nails recently.
Otis: No, that’s OK. I’ll just hang out here.
Otis is a grumpy puss. He did not understand love and affection as a teeny kitten, though he was incredibly smart and loved to play. He would often (and still does) sit in a corner and watch us, curious, but not really understanding. He did not start purring until he was about seven months and only started to knead within the last year. He does it hesitantly, like, “I think this is how this is supposed to go…” He was never taught to retract his claws when he plays and any little thing can freak him out, sending him low to the ground, stiff and alert. But he is my baby. He has leaned to love me and curl up on my lap and enjoy the jiggle sound of the bell on his collar. He has come a long way from the kitten who looked like he was plotting world domination from afar. He is still a source of frustration, climbing on the counters and my computer desk, howling his head off at all hours.
Attempting to defect to Canada so he can overthrow their government and become their dark overlord.
Don’t get me wrong, my cats have excellent qualities about them, too.
Kermit loves to PLOP – a signature move that is part rollover, part flop, as he turns his head and loks up at you with those big, orange eyes like, “Aren’t I just the cutest kitty ever?”
He figured out how to pull the string of his hamster toy to make it move. His love for my mother and my boyfriend knows no bounds – those are his favorite people. His friendship with the dogs next door is too adorable for words as he peers down at them from our living room window and meows responses to their friendly barks. He is curious and sweet and overall a good cat with an unfortunate brain tick.
Otis is my monkey – he climbs and jumps and leaps and runs and while he will never be the big tom cat size his brother is I am perfectly OK with that because I can scoop him up with one hand and curl him to me, tickling his belly and giving his wee head a scratch. Speaking of scratches, he loves his butt to be scratched – that point where tail and rear end meet is the primo spot and he will go from Napoleon Bonaparte Kitty to melty cat love puddle in .3 nanoseconds. While Kermit and I are cat/caretaker, Otis is my baby and it is he who I will miss the most on vacation.
A friend once told me that I was meant for these cats, not as punishment for having a perfect cat prior to them as I previously thought, but as an appointed guardian because of their issues. It takes a special kind of human to not just front the money for emergency Q-Tip extraction, but to trim the nails, give the medicine and still love them at the end of the day. We’re quite the family.
QUESTION: Are your pets strange/neurotic?