Saturday, February 11, 2012

Life with Kitties -the beginning

P.A. Cooley Cat Lover 

I don't know what I am any longer except perhaps Orlando's boyfriend and an Admissions Director to a Skilled Nursing Facility. I feel less and less connected to people around me, (despite my horrific Facebook addiction). Ever since I have declared myself an ordinary bear and no longer the Diva Cub of all time, all of my life's issues have become so mundane. Perhaps this would explain my why I have so vigorously begun a new persona: Pet owner and proud father of two adopted feral kittens.

The cat idea was really not mine at first. Orlando and I knew we wanted pets eventually. (The idea of children stealing all my attention was more than I could handle and quite frankly Orlando is a strong believer in children should be seen and not heard. These are excellent reasons why neither of us would make very good parents. So pets it was) This led to the selection of our current apartment because they DO accept pets, but we had originally discussed getting a dog. As most would agree, cats are fairly self sufficient if they have enough food and a clean litter box. Dogs require far more attention. Hell -I kinda felt a dog was as big of a time investment as a kid would be. ..Sorta

The dog idea was shelved until after we had the ultimate grown-up-no-time-with-family-vacation that we have been planning in our heads forever. Currently I am agonizing about budgets and upcoming family weddings on the East Coast. I shamefully confess to you now that have never really been  ACROSS THE ATLANTIC -or Pacific for that matter. My mother the anglophile, didn't make it to England until she was in her SIXTIES!!! (She went with her former Sisters-n-law and they still joke about their driving misadventures almost 40 years later.) I don't want some pictures of me looking thoughtful and wondrous at the Leaning Tower of Pisa at 62. I want the Gay Italian men to whistle at me as I walk through the streets of Rome before I have completely lost my sex appeal.

So Orlando and I decided to adopt a cat. Then it got to the point that we realized we'd be gone 8 to 9 hours a day of the work week so we thought TWO cats to keep themselves company would be the  ideal situation. Then my -save-all-the-old-things-and-people-in-the-world got the better of me, and I said I wanted to adopt an older adult cat. I wanted to save a cat that someone could no longer care for. Orlando was adamant in his preference of a kitten because he wanted the kitten to get used to us as opposed to us getting used to an adult cat's ways. I began to fret about how it would be for a kitten and an older cat to be thrown in a new environment, forcing them to get along with each other. We went to the Oakland SPCA.

Our first trip was unsuccessful. We met these two sleek silver bullet brothers who were approximately 4 months old. Difficult to tell them apart visually but they each had two distinct personalities. One boy was eager to meet us and loved crawling all around us and even purred a bit. The other one didn't seem to like to be touched. I couldn't handle that. It had been 30 years since I had been a pet owner and I wasn't sure I could re-socialize the boy into being handled and eventually settling down to an adult lap kitty. Orlando kept looking at me expectantly. I narrowed my eyes in irritation. "Remember? I wanted an adult cat? They have less chance of being adopted?..." The two silver bullet brothers raced madly around us in the Oakland SPCA Cat Playroom. Orlando seemed conflicted too. He started thinking about the damage the two little fellas could wreak in our home but his eyes danced in delight as he watched them do these fantastically acrobatic twists to capture the little mouse at the end of the stick that he made dance tauntingly for them. They were fascinating to watch. It struck me odd how brave and affectionate one brother behaved and how tentative the other brother was. It had been so long since I had spent any close time with animals that I was beginning to make assumptions like they all behaved the same. For some mysterious reason I had blocked out  ALL my childhood cat personalities. I had forgotten about my old butterscotch tabby Mo's kingly prowling and personal allegiance to me. I had forgotten Sheba's ( Burmese Black tabby mix) elegant stand offish air and keen intelligence. How could I forget Butkis-Sheba's son - A gray tiger tabby? Named after the football player Dick Butkis. He LOVED to be vacuumed. Yup! He'd roll right over and my mother would just suck the fleas right off his belly with this Hoover that sounded like a train. There was NOTHING elegant about ButtKiss!

We left the Oakland SPCA without the boys. I could smell Orlando's desperation that kitten season was nearing it's end. I thought about the big comfortable lonely looking lap kitties I had seen sitting in the cages. Now I was getting cranky. Orlando was getting crankier. Another 2 weeks went by and we found ourselves back on a much better scheduled visit to the Oakland SPCA. After an industrious visit to Pet Club our apartment was outfitted with the necessary ingredients for two rambunctious baby kitties. Regrettably and begrudgingly, I decided to think economically about being a new pet owner, and felt that if I had adopted an older feline then I was looking at vet bills sooner rather than later. Orlando had finally persuaded me two kittens was a better route to go. Despite his obvious joy and glee at the thought of two little puffballs in the house, I still felt guilty. We both had negotiated  to get kittens as young as we could possibly get. Teeny puffballs that could barely walk were the preference.

The silver bullets were still there and a bit bigger , but I told Orlando we shouldn't take them out and play with them. As we wove through the facility it became glaringly apparent there were no baby kittens tonight. I could feel the growing tension of Orlando's frustration. A sweet black and white female tabby about 4 months old was meowing at me from her cage. I stuck my finger in to pet her and she rubbed her face against it eagerly. He could see I was enchanted. Orlando started to look angry." I thought we decided nothing older than a month!"

" I know I know." I back pedaled. " I was thinking she looked like the cat my friend Alilah described she used to have and maybe she would be a good fit for her" Orlando began to grumble. He wanted the kitties tonight. Roughly $170 worth of food and  litter and the toys and bedding and scratchers were all sitting in a pile in our living room and we weren't going to be bringing home any kitties. His frustration began to peak as he heard from the pudgy shiny, SPCA volunteer that kitten season was indeed over. He began his Fred Flintstone roaring as we approached the car. My mind was desperately thinking of something to say to make him calm down. I knew a good deal of this was directed at me because I was being so particular. At this stage of the game, he would've scooped up any 2 cats in that facility and brought them home with us. There was a brief discussion of bringing home the friendly silver bullet boy and sweet black and white tabby girl - but there was no way in hell that I could have lived with the thought of separating those brothers, especially since one of them seemed autistic!!! The happy socialized cat would need to be with his special needs brother so that the special needs brother could learn to interact with the outside world by imitating him. You can imagine the expression on Orlando's face as I explained this to him. He did the "angry face scrub". You know -the thing where you are so mad you just furiously rub the mad off your face to the best of your ability?? I think Schemp on the Three Stooges used to do it all the time.

We rode home in stony silence but Orlando kept barking out foods he'd like to eat to calm himself down. PIZZA! BURGERS! ICE CREAM!! I timidly suggested he pull over and I'd treat.



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