Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spin Cycle: Scary Cat Lady

Nah, not that scary. We only have 3 cats, not 30. Although three is a lot to some people. All that cat hair wafting through the air is probably some kind of choking hazard. And I know my house kills allergy sufferers, so really, why even bother to de-clutter? Most of the people I'd like to have over couldn't come anyway. Right? Let's just humor me since I came homefrom work to a living room that looked like a toy store threw up in it, and David's and Lilli's attempt at "cleaning" while Elizabeth and I were at Publix only resulted in a giant pile of toys off in one corner. Anyway.

So, the Spin Cycle topic this week is about our pets. I didn't get to have "real" pets as a child (as I thought of dogs and cats) because my parents always rented and said that was why we could never have them. Personally, I think they really just don't like them much. Over the years I had pets that lived in small spaces and weren't supposed to go anywhere, but frequently did. Butterflies (remarkably good at squeezing through small spaces, always found one of them on my pillow), tadpoles (turned into frogs extremely quickly, one promptly jumped out of its container not realizing the heights it was being kept at and promptly and unpleasantly met its end), parakeets (we weren't good at taking them to have their flight feathers clipped), a gerbil (named "Houdini" for a reason), and a dwarf hamster (Often escaped, but at least he came when called).

All that changed the week before my wedding.

This is Abby:

She's a 17 pound Calico of indeterminate age. Look at that lush fur. It absolutely coats my house. Anyway, the week before I was married, David walked me to my car one evening as I was leaving what would be our first apartment. He was already living there, but we were old fashioned and I was at my parent's house still. As we were standing by the car (we may or may not have been "saying" goodnight), we heard this frantic mewing. We looked over to see a scrawny little cat (she has since grown. A lot.) come tearing across the field in back of the apartment building straight for us at top speed. She ran right to David. He sat down in the parking lot (being that kind of guy) and she immediately sat in his lap. Let's just say it probably wouldn't have taken the can of tuna to get her to stay with us, it was love at first sight on her part. My husband is her favorite person in the world. We think she was maybe a year old when she came to live with us, so that would make her 8 or 9. She is definitely the boss cat. She's very good with the girls, especially Elizabeth, and they adore her. Her favorite past time? Wedging herself in between David and I any time we lay down or try to sit next to each other. She's worse than the girls.

This is Bailey:

Not a great picture, but he's a busy boy and moves around a lot. He's a 16 pound, 7 year old, mutt kitty. As both our only purchased and only male cat, he somehow ended up being "my" cat. He's definitely a mama's boy. Even though David and I are old and boring and have the girls, we occasionally frolic around. If I laugh or shriek too much? Bailey comes over and bites David on the leg or whatever he can reach. He's my knight in fury armor. Not quite a year into our marriage I got pretty baby hungry and since he wasn't quite ready for children, David bought me a kitten. He might tell you something different about how we got Bailey, but that's the nuts and bolts. It worked, it was a good distraction. I like babies in every species.
Abby wasn't super happy about this, but grew to tolerate him. He likes to bite her bum after she uses the litter box, and she likes to retaliate by whapping him in the face, claws extended. This started pretty early, she once managed to scratch his cornea when he was a kitten, and neither he nor I were happy with my needing to put ointment on his eyeball multiple times a day. The girls like him too, but since he as a tendency to freak out when he feels cornered (and in their love they corner him more often than we can stop them) they've learned a bit of healthy respect for his "sharp toes".
This is Lily.

Yes, you heard me right, Lily. And yes, our daughter Lillian/Lilli is named after this cat. We named her Lillian so she can pretend she's not named after the cat when she's older, but Lilli/Lily is her true name. Lily-cat (as we've been calling her) looks very cross in this picture, but she's starting to squint into love eyes at me because she's a sweetie. She's a 5 year old, 6 pound, 100% mixed breed, foundling, fraidy cat. She is David's and my cat equally, and was our first true experience with parenting.
5 years ago I was working at a Spa (literally down by the river), and there was a large feral cat population living around the buildings that some of the ladies I worked with enabled by feeding them. Due to inbreeding among themselves they pretty much all looked similar to Lilli. As in delicate boned wild cats, wearing tabby jackets over their white underoos and socks. One day when I was at work, we got a call from a lady living nearby saying that there was a kitten crying under the holly bush by her pool cage and it had been there overnight. Could one of the notoriously soft hearted employees come and get it since it seemed to be the result of one of the parking lot unions? I was about to leave for the day, so I excitedly volunteered. I reeeeeeally like kittens. I'm a sucker for the fluff. I don't know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn't expecting a tiny bundle with closed eyes and ears that fit into the palm of my hand. If I had my scanner hooked up and knew how to use it so I could post a picture of her at 5 days old? You would pass out from cuteness overload. I knew right then that I was certainly not going to be giving her to anyone else, she was miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. David had said over the phone that we definitely were not going to have another cat, but after just one look he was hooked too. And so we began the new parent cycle of bottle feedings and diaper changes every two hours. Ok, not diaper changes, but mama cats have to help the kittens go to the bathroom and we did too. Major bonding took place, she thinks she's human and although we consider all our cats to be our furry children, Lily is special. And we know she has a relatively limited life span, both because she's a cat, but more so because she's from a feral population that could have bred some future problems into her. So we want to have her memory live on, as cheesy as it sounds to say that about a feline. She is afraid of, or cautious around, every single person except for David and I and she is so sweet it is almost painful. When she stands up beside your chair and gently pats your arm so you can make room for her in your lap, it almost feels like an honor.
So yes, I love my cats. Dander, tumbleweeds of fur, occasional funky litter box smell, surprise vomit piles and all.
For more spins about pets, potentially less long-winded ones, please check out the other spins at Sprite's Keeper.


Sprite's Keeper said...

That is so sweet! How you rescued Lily-cat from a fate that would have befallen her if you hadn't stepped in with your soft heart? I love it! You're linked!

Anonymous said...

This is a WONDERFUL story! I love it and I think you must be a very special person to put that much thought into describing the personalities of your pets. Great Spin!