Bah, Cats.


Growing up I had two cats. There was Jake, the refined rescue from the SPCA, that looked as if he was wearing a tuxedo and acted more like James Bond than a cat. He preferred the company of my mother, most likely because she was not going to dress him up in doll clothes and subject him to tea parties. Gizmoe, the short-haired Turkish Van that was larger than a full-grown male Basset hound, was my playmate. No matter how many diets we out him on, that cat was always the fattest cat you have ever seen. He was my companion, and hogged most of my twin bed every night while I slept. We also had a beautiful Sheltie named Halo, but she was resolutely my brother's dog. 

Gizmoe was a saint. He put up with all of my shenanigans, from playing beauty salon (the blue sidewalk chalk that I had used to color his fur nearly gave my mom a heart attack) to pretending he was my diaper-wearing baby, he would just calmly go along with nearly every scenario I threw at him. He never bit me, and rarely did he scratch me--and when he did, I knew that I had gone too far and deserved his anger. 

This wonderful childhood experience had led me to believe that I was a cat person. I was always very active in the care and training of our dog, and I have always absolutely adored dogs. Despite my love for dogs of all breeds and sizes, I was convinced that I was a cat person. So when I bought my condo, knowing full well that I was no longer living with anyone allergic to them, I got two kittens.  Very quickly I realized that there is a large difference between kittens and adult cats. Also very quickly I began to realize that, while cats entertain me to no end, I don't particularly like them. 

At first, I thought that it was because they were kittens. Then, as they started to grow, I blamed it on the, being orange cats and naturally crazy. Last fall I gave one of them to a friend of mine because the two of them were just too much. "One is easier", everyone was telling me. "With one, they calm down and are less trouble." 

Thanks for lying to me, jerks. 

One cat has not gotten easier. Cheaper, yes, because I happened to give away the one that ate 10lbs of food in a week, but in no way has it gotten easier. 

I still don't sleep, because she always wants attention. She destroys everything that she can get her paws on, and even the collars and room sprays that are supposed to help calm her don't work. She has toys galore, but she would much prefer pulling my books off of my shelves and breaking my snow globes to keep her entertained. 

I cannot comprehend how one cat can produce so much bodily waste, and I cannot keep up with the kitty litter--some days I have to clean it morning and night just to keep it from smelling up my condo. I have tried every kind of door neutralizer, cleaner, air freshener, and box deodorizer that I can get my hands on, and none of them have done even a satisfactory job. 

It turns out that I am also allergic to her, although I'm sure anyone would be stuffed up when a cat attempts to sleep on their face at night. Her saliva makes me itchy, I cannot handle the amount of cat hair that is EVERYWHERE (even with me vacuuming daily), and I can barely breathe when I'm at home. And I'm only mildly allergic to her--poor B can't spend more than a few minutes in my place before he has to leave--his throat will start bleeding if he is around cats too long--and I have to change my clothes as soon as I get to his house so that I don't spread the dander there too. 

I do love Gilford, don't get me wrong. She can be sweet as pie, and some days I really enjoy curling up on the couch with her and watching TV. The happiness that she brings to my daughter makes my heart swell...althought that could also be an allergic reaction to the dander. But those moments are not enough for me. 

It has taken two long, frustrating years, but I feel very confident in saying that I am not a cat person in the slightest. 

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The Time I Ugly Cried Over the Cat That I Always Complain About

I remember walking through the door to my friends' condo, and finding eight tiny little kittens running around. Audrey immediately sat down on the floor to laugh at their silly antics. They were jumping, and mewing, and playing robustly. One little kitten broke away from the pack, and crawled into her lap. 



"This is Gilford." she said triumphantly. "This is my kitty."

"Are you sure, hunny? There are so many. Do you want to play with them first?" I asked, wondering if her decision was rash. "Of course it was rash, she is only three after all." I told myself. 

"No Mom, I don't need to play with the other kitties. This is Gilford. Can I please have her collar?" Audrey rolled her eyes as she spoke, clearly impatient with my questions. I handed her the purple collar, and showed her how to put it on. 

"Well, that was easy." I thought. "Now I just need to find my kitten." 

They were all so fluffy and cute. How could Audrey make it seem so easy? So I took Audrey's lead: I sat down on the floor, and I played with the kittens. There were kittens crawling into my shirt, climbing on my shoulders, and sleeping in my hands; as cute as they were, I knew that none of them were my cat. I was feeling discouraged, and pressured to choose one. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my toe. I quickly looked over, and found the source of the pain: there was a kitten attached to my toe, happily chewing away. I don't know if it was the insolence of chewing on my extremity, or the way he seemed entirely comfortable doing so, but I knew that this was my Toulouse. I popped his black collar onto him, loaded our new family members into their kennel, and we drove home.

Toulouse is on the left, Gilford is on the right. I think.

They spent most of their first few months doing what kittens do--sleeping in their box, making messes in my previously immaculate condo, and generally raising hell. They were too small to climb into their litter box on their own, so I created a makeshift staircase leading up to it using a stack of hardcover books. They ate more than I thought possible, and their litter box was always full. But dang it if they weren't sweet as heck, just indescribably sweet.

Apparently they didn't get the memo that you don't kiss your sibling with tongue. Awkward.

Slowly, as they grew up, I started to realize the pitfalls of having two cats in a small condo: everything was covered in cat hair, no matter how many hours I spent vacuuming; the litter box would be full after only a day, so a second was required; most problematic was their penchant for playing from 1-5am--jumping across my bed, stepping on my head, usually with claws out. I couldn't leave the bathroom door open, because everything would end up on the ground and the garbage would be knocked over and strewn across the room.

A deceptive photo; this was taken during his midday nap.

While Gilford has always been an easy-going cat, Toulouse became more of a problem as time went on. He became very possessive of me, to the point that he simply wouldn't allow me out of his sight while I was home. He would follow me from room to room, climbing up my body so that I would be forced to hold him. Heaven forbid I should close the door when I had a bath--he would have a fit, scratching at the door and meowing like he was in pain. If my daughter wanted to snuggle with me, he would push between us and get cranky if I tried to move him. His most irritating habit was his licking; while it might be his way of showing affection, I was being woken up multiple times each night by him licking my face or arms. I am allergic to cat saliva, it turns out, so this led to uncomfortable hives and lots of itchy skin. He would lick and chew on our hair while we sat on the couch--basically, he was a bit of a (super cute, non-violent) menace. 

This is the face of a menace, I swear.

I chalked this up to being a "stage"; he was only a year old, after all. I thought that with time, he would ease up on his intense need for affection and cool it with the constant kisses. "Orange cats calm down with age," said everyone I know with cats. "Just give him time," said they. 

It took a long time to accept that I wasn't the right parent for my little furbaby. I just couldn't give him the love that he so clearly wanted, and needed. I loved him so much, yet he drove me beyond the edge of crazy with those sleepless nights--they caught up to me, and I knew that I needed to find him a new home. 

A rare moment where I'm kissing him, instead of the reverse.

I couldn't bring myself to put an ad on Kijiji; I didn't want to give my baby to just anyone. I wanted him to go to a home that would love him the way that he needed to be loved. 

On Sunday afternoon, that is exactly what happened. 

A friend from work came over with her boyfriend, purely to "meet" Toulouse. They brought their furbaby, a gorgeous Border Collie named Burt, to make sure that there wouldn't be any personality conflicts between the two of them. After an hour and a half they had fallen in love with my little man, just as I knew that they would. I stayed calm, upbeat even, the whole time. Even while packing up his favourite toys, bed, dishes and litter box, I was calm. I knew in my heart that this was the right decision for Toulouse. 

I walked them outside, and helped load my little boy into their car. I said my final goodbye (he would barely look at me, his anger over being shoved into a kennel and taken by strangers was written on his face), I stayed calm. It's the right thing to do. 

Then I turned away from him, said goodbye to my friends, and walked back into my building. And good lord, did I cry. I ugly cried in my kitchen for over a half hour, again at my boyfriends' house, and even more later that night in bed. Deep down, I know that I did the right thing. He has only been at his new home for twenty-four hours, but he has already settled in nicely. He has claimed his spot on both their bed and couch, and has declared which windowsill shall be his throne. 

I know that I did the right thing. But I miss this face more than I ever thought possible.