Monday, June 4, 2012

Crazy for Cats

I grew up a dog person. A big part of the reason was that I am allergic to cats. They're second only to bees in my life. So, naturally, my parents would never allow us to have one.

I got my first cat by accident in my early 20s. My boyfriend's downstair neighbor's kid (confused yet?) found a kitten on his way home from school. No collar. But the dad didn't like cats so they were keeping it hidden in a box under the bathroom sink. It got out one night and pooped on the bedroom floor. Angry, the dad tossed the kitten out in the rain. He crawled upstairs and curled up on my boyfriend's welcome mat for the night. In the morning, I had a kitten.

This is Junior Me-ow (named after Junior Seau, or Say-Ow as he was known when we were growing up in Daygo). My heart cat. He changed my life. I won't say it was easy on my body. It took me a few months to adjust. Benedryl became a regular part of my life. So did air filters. Junior got a bath once a month. The carpets also got steamed once a month. He was totally worth it. Having that little face greet me at the door every evening - well, words can't describe it. He was a snuggler and never met a stranger. He would greet everyone. My neighbor's chihuahua taught him how to bark. That's right, my cat could bark. He was amazing. Unfortunately, I lost him when he was only 4 years old to a heart defect. I still miss him.

This is Mama. Mama was part of a feral colony that I took care of for almost a decade. I trapped, neutered and released, but it took me 8 years to get her in a trap. She would give me two litters a year like clockwork. She was a great mom - teaching them to hunt, keeping them out of the street, and then depositing them on my doorstep at 8 weeks. It's was as though she was saying, "I've done all I can - now it's YOUR turn." And I would find them homes.

Pip came from her last litter. She was very, very sick as a kitten. The Upper Respiratory got into her eye. A herpe formed, popped and lacerated her cornea. They had to take the eye. She's our one-eyed cat. She is such a GREAT cat. So even keeled. She can roll with the punches - any punches. She has put up with a constant influx of animals - from dogs that I had to take on the evening news to dogs that were staying temporarily to a new puppy that liked to chase and just never left. She has tolerated her sisters as well. This is the cat that makes my non-cat friends say, "Pip makes me want a cat." She's just THAT cool. And she talks. I have to get video of it because you can have an entire conversation with her. She will answer every question you ask. In cat.

Eowyn is the only cat that I've ever actually picked out. At the shelter, her name was Nora. She was thrown over the fence in a box with the lid taped shut. No air holes. When the kennel manager's dogs found the box in the morning, they didn't know if she would survive. She has thrived. Here we are over 9 years later and she's still going strong. She's my Princess. She takes over every dog bed we put down, but sometimes she will let Lily lay next to her. Eowyn is still terrified of leaving the house. If she has to go to the vet, she will wet herself in the crate. I think those days of being abandoned are still fresh all these years later. When we moved, she didn't come out of the closet in the bedroom for two months. Poor thing. But she's a beauty and she loves to be on my lap. There's just something about her.

Wednesday was the last cat thrown into the mix. She was the kitten of a really ill feral mom that showed up one night when I was feeding. A week later, the mom had disappeared entirely. I came home from work to find Wednesday collapsed in my parking space. She was 12 weeks old and weighed under a pound. With a flea treatment and some IV fluids, she started to bounce back. She would sleep so soundly that Erik and I would think that we had crushed her. We were constantly shaking her in the middle of the night (she slept between our heads), worried that she wasn't alive. When she finally roused from that deep sleep, she would look very annoyed. She's a sweet cat to us, but a terror to the dog and a pain in the butt to her sisters. She greets us every morning at the bedroom door and ushers us throughout the house. When we're home, she will follow from room to room. She's as loyal as any dog. But she's a bit off. She does odd things sometimes that make us think that she might have brain damage from the flea anemia.

Every cat is different and I think we're better people for having them in our lives. They taught us patience. And the importance of naps.

Are you a cat person? Or a dog person? Or both?

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