I Got Owned

kliban

Good God, I did it.

I got a cat.

I’m not 100% certain why I got a cat. I mean I have some reasons, but I’ve always considered myself a dog person.

But this past Saturday morning, as though I was in a trance of sorts, I drove 125 miles into a part of the Southern California desert I wasn’t even aware existed, to pick up a freaking cat.

I’ve never been a cat person. I don’t hate them, I just prefer the more rough and tumble predictability of a dog. I love the adoration of a dog. Cats are just a tad too finicky and persnickety for my taste.

I’ve never had a huge amount of ownership experience with cats. I grew up with one, and while my brother and I did the grunt work for the animal, she was really more my mom’s. She was a cool indoor cat, but I mostly remember her sort of terrorizing me as a kid. I’ve always startled easily, and never done well with the whole “BOO!” around the corner, and this cat, — I swear she knew it. She would hide in the same place every morning, and as I’d round a corner, she’d jump out and grab my feet and proceed to bite me, sending me into a child-size heart failure. Like a total chump this would occur over and over. It got to the point that I carried an umbrella as a fencing weapon around the house with me, which come to think of it, she probably enjoyed more. More to the point, I was the only one in the house she did this to. The rest of the household found it hysterical, but they weren’t having to duel with the devil on a daily basis.

As an adult I’ve owned a few short term cats. One I lost in a relationship – but later came to found he never kept her either. That sucked, but realistically I wouldn’t have been able to take her if I had wanted. I had a series of very small relationships with cats after that – Usually me helping someone out. A cat that I rescued for a friend, that ended up with feline leukemia. Another, a tabby I was helping a friends daughter out with when my youngest was a toddler. Sadly my little one was terrified of the cat, and the cat didn’t make things easier with side swiping her with a sharp claw here and there. You can’t take your kid to the shelter, so the obvious choice was the cat had to go. Not to a shelter mind you, back to the friend. Then there was a kitten who terrorized my house, including a diabolic massacre on a full Twinkie box, where he proceeded to bite a hole into every single Twinkie, leaving them strewn about the house like a dead army of crème filled soldiers. Fortunately he was finally adopted by my neighbor who needed a companion for her cat.

As you can see, my relationship with cats has never lasted quite too long. Cats are the equivalent of the sort of assholes I’ve dated in my life. I feel like I’ve gone into these cat relationships a person who wants a loving and committed relationship (read: dog), but the cats seem to want a more casual thing. No strings attached, maybe we even see others. Or maybe they see others, and I can just deal with it. The point is, cats are aloof and non-committal, and what the fuck, I wanted a dog and settled.

Plus I don’t get the whole Crazy Cat Lady thing. Most cat owners I know are like those who get inked. In fact most of my cat friends ARE inked now that I think of it. They can’t have just one. Reason after reason they adopt another, and sometimes another and another, until BOOM, they have their own cat zoo. I’ve never felt I could walk into a cat owners home, and not instantly know it. It’s not always the dirty cat box, it’s just this permeating scent, that never goes away.

Lastly, did I want to be that old lady? Or almost old lady? Like my old neighbor? She seemed ancient when I lived next door to her, but she probably only 5 or 6 years older than I am today. What made her old? She had a cat. Just her and her cat (and later her, her cat and my cat). Probably watching Wheel of Fortune and heating something up in the microwave. GAH! My nightmare vision of old.

Unfortunately I cannot have a dog at this stage in my life. It’s my light at the end of my working tunnel; to own a dog that I will have the time to spend with. But until then, it’s just a dream. In the past few weeks I realized I am a dog lover trapped in a cat-owners life. Hell someone recently even suggested I am way more cat, than I am dog. I’m jumpy and twitchy and moody and playful and sometimes mean for the heck of it. They suggested that I’ve just been adopting the wrong cats.

Were they right?

To be honest the empty nest syndrome, and the rat situation together were probably two of the main ingredients for this stewing of cat thoughts. Ok, so Im jaded and not admitting damnit I knew I’d be lonely too. My youngest who has moved in and out a couple of times now, is out again and this time I’m pretty sure it’s for good. I’ve had enough practice on her leaving that it wasn’t the blow it had been, but I’d be lying if I said the loneliness wasn’t going to be there.

Of course the rodent situation played in the back of my mind. I knew this: I did not want a cat in the house if I had a live rodent situation, because the idea of being gifted with a bloodied dead one was enough to send me into complete heart failure. But I did ask the exterminator if having had a cat would have alleviated them making their way into the house, and he said it might have. That’s enough hope for me.

As would fortune have it – for me, not the rodents – the situation with them was alleviated last week. Let’s just leave it at that. *shudder*

So, with an empty house and rodent deterrent on my mind, I ballied back and forth the idea of a house with a cat. Sort of like a cat with a toy. I shushed the Crazy Cat Lady and the Old Cat Lady images out of my head, and embraced the idea of a simply sweet cat. I knew it could limit me later. If I ever decided I wanted to date again, it removed a large portion of the allergy ridden population. Plus some people honestly do not like cats. Not simply ambivalent about them, but true disdain. I like to travel and this could hinder stuff, but that’s what cat sitters are for.

Regardless of all of this, I went about investigating breeds.

I knew what I didn’t want; As absolutely beautiful as long haired cats are (and trust me I am shallow enough to even like my animals to be either beautiful or unique looking) I could only recall my cousin having to shear and cut cat shit off her floofy long haired kitties arsehole. I could barely change baby diapers, let alone take a pair of scissors to an already high-strung animals ass. Plus long haired animals in general make me feel like I have a hairball in my throat after about 15 minutes.

Shorter haired cats it was.

I needed a cat that could sort of be dog like in their affection. I don’t like rejection, and to be constantly rejected on a daily basis might just send me over the edge on a really bad day. Or send the cat over the edge. I don’t mind a shyer cat, in fact I find that sort of sweet.

Affectionate was added to the list.

I needed a cat that was okay in a quiet home, independent of other cats and no high maintenance grooming. No constant shedding.

Everything added up to a Russian Blue. They are good one-person cats. Low maintenance. Shy, but affectionate. Generally prefer a one cat home. Check, check, check. I always believe in adoption, vs breeders, even though I have to say, I’ve been burned with slightly neurotic animals from adoption before. It’s sort of to be expected at this point.

Now to be honest I can get an idea in my head and have it race around like a 3 year amped up on a Buzz Cola. It simply will not go away until I exhaust it. I will research until finally I am so over the idea, I walk. I did this recently with the idea of getting a new washing machine; measurements and reviews and prices, and this place vs that place. I got all happy imagining this new washer dryer combo in my place. Now ask me about the new washing machine I ordered. Go ahead. Yeah, I didn’t order one. I walked from it, brought to my senses before making the purchase.  It’s one reason I love online shopping so much.

So this little cat idea started to grow. And climb and blossom. I researched more and more, just like the washing machine. Is it a compulsive issue? Possibly. But I decided to take it a step further and I typed in “Russian+Blue+Rescue+So+Cal” and voila, there she was. With a bonus. Sort of. Well bonus for me.

She was de-clawed.

Now growing up the cat we had, the one who liked to terrorize me – she was declawed. This was the 70’s and it wasn’t well known that declawing your cat was pretty much maiming them for life. My mom, like me, just didn’t want to have a shredded house. I didn’t recall it being an issue for my cat, until it eventually well, basically killed her. She unknowingly slipped out of the house after about nearly ten years of indoor domesticity and ended up in cat fight she couldn’t win. The fight didn’t kill her, but she ended up infected with a virus from the other cat which eventually took her down. It wasn’t pretty and it devastated our family to lose her.

Now today I would never declaw a cat. There is too much to know about the issues, including the inability to defend themselves if they get out. But the previous owner either didn’t know, or didn’t care, and had it done. I know a lot of people don’t want to adopt a declawed cat, because of the reasons listed above. So in a way, her maiming was sort of my boon. I know, I know, that’s terrible to look at an affliction as some sort of upsell, but it was what it is.

“If my hesitancy on a cat was them shredding my house, wasn’t this a sign?” my 3-year old hyper self, screamed!

Cut to the chase I emailed the rescue, we talked for a couple of days, I got amped about the idea and discussed with my crazy cat lady friend, and decided what the fuck — I’m driving 4 ½ hours round trip to get this cat, sight unseen. There was one small picture of her, which honestly wasn’t very flattering, so I wasn’t sold on the looks factor.

I just … needed to have this cat.

She really was in the middle of Bum Fuck Egypt. Winding windy roads that blasted thru parts of the desert I didn’t even know existed. I landed at the home of a women who had 15 cats on her hands, most of them rescues. Most of them. She put most of my crazy cat lady friends to shame. My little baby was by herself, because again; the declawing. 15 cats and she’ll have no defense if a fight breaks out. Apparently she was an owner surrender because they were moving. I peeked into the cubby and was happily surprised.

She was the sweetest, prettiest little thing. Dainty. Tiny. 7 lbs soaking wet, with the softest greyest coat. She gleamed like a wet seal. While she didn’t come bounding out the cubby like a dog might, she didn’t hesitate to let me pet her. Even hold her. When it came time to place her in the carrier, there wasn’t a flash of hissing and growling. She just sort of walked in.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream. She cried nearly 45 minutes of the drive home, until I found a classical music station. Whether it was music that soothed the savage beast or her exhausting herself, she finally quieted down with a violin concerto by Vivaldi. Between that, and a song that had come on earlier by an artist I loved, I decided to name her Eva. It fits her like a glove.

When I got her home I followed all the Jackson Galaxy info on giving her her own space and leaving her alone, but she wasn’t having any of that. Instead of running under furniture and hiding there for days, she boldly examined my place. Walked from room to room, rubbing her scent on everything. OWNING the place immediately. She also immediately rubbed up to me, as if to express that I would do for as a human for her for now. When company came over, she rubbed up to them too.

Everything I hate about cats; she isn’t. Except the bitey part. I hate the bitey part, and while it doesn’t happen often, and she never bites so hard that it breaks the skin, it embarrasses me. Embarrassed that this seven pound wonder can actually jolt a little fright in me, when I have rolled on the floor with a 120 pound Rottweiler before. I realize that she invokes that child in me that didn’t understand cats, and while I might get why she does this now, the 7-year old umbrella wielding child in me doesn’t.

She sleeps on the foot of my bed on a nightgown that I wore the first night. Is it weird that I felt it improper to sleep unclothed with a strange cat the first night? I think I forget she is a cat at times. She doesn’t like to play thus far,, which could still be timing on her being here. Or it could be that she isn’t a player. I sort of felt bad that she was bored, until I had to remind myself, she is a fucking cat, not company you have to entertain. She seems most content just lying on the couch near me while we watch TV.

No Wheel of Fortune at this point, thankfully.

The last part of this that I wanted to touch on was yesterday. Keep in mind it’s only been a couple of days since I’ve had her. For reasons I’m not certain of, and don’t want to focus on too roughly now, I had a particularly anxious day yesterday. I mean the verge of anxiety attacks that I hadn’t seen in a long time, kinda day. They were bad enough that this is all I can say about them for fear of waking them. Anyway, as the anxiety worsened, and my mind raced I started to focus on my adopting her. Was it one of those shopping impulse issues that I explained above. Was she the washer & dryer replacement? My commitment issues came into focus, and I was thinking holy fuck, what have I done? I’m committed to caring for this thing FOR LIFE! I felt miserable, and stuck and fearful that my once safe haven of escape (my home) was again the actual prison of my anxiety now. I drove home, wondering what was wrong with me, why did I have such issues, blah blah blah.

When I walked in the door I was actually shaking a bit, but I was also smart enough to know I was creating a lot of this garbage in my head. Living in the future, etc. I greeted Eva, like I had the day before albeit maybe with a tad less enthusiasm? Went thru normal routines, fed her, emptied the trash, simple stuff. I sat down on the couch to relax and this little ball comes up, rubbing herself on me. Like she knew I had a rough day. Not so much I was smothered, but just enough. As the night went on, I grew a bit more comfortable in my own skin, shedding the earlier anxiety — she climbed into my lap for the first time, head butted me and then fell asleep.

I think I am a dog person, who just might love this cat.

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