I must have been the worst mother ever

I love cats. They fill crevices in my heart with warmth. But they’re animals. I’m not really their mother.

So why do I worry about them more than I remember worrying about my kids?

Case In Point

We planned our week away several months in advance. And I contracted someone to stay at the house with my three little fur babies.

When the sitter cancelled a month before our trip, my first response was, “I’m not going to be able to go on this trip.”

My husband looked at me like I’d grown an arm out of the middle of my forehead. “We’ll get someone else.”

But there’s no one.

Because I really want this person to adore cats as much as I do. And I want to be comfortable imagining them alone in my house.

Am I expecting too much?

Needless to say, I don’t recall ever thinking I would cancel a vacation to stay home with my kids. Maybe if they had been sick.
But one time, my youngest had a bad fall and got stitches two days before I was supposed to leave to join my husband in Washington, DC.

My mother was keeping our sons. She insisted that I go on the trip.

I’d like to say she really had to twist my arm. But she didn’t. I wanted to be convinced it was fine for me to leave my small children.

But these cats?

Plan B

“They do so much better when someone stays with them.”

It’s true.

I love cats for their independence. And my cats are as snooty as any Egyptian god or goddess.
But when we left them for a week and had my father-in-law check in on them daily, they pooped on the chair, destroyed a few items and sprayed my husband’s shoes.

It made coming home an instant relaxation reversal.

Another time, we had some neighbor kids come over and sit with them for a couple hours every day.

This time it was the bed that got used as a litter box. And the television and lights were left on. For how long we’ll never know.

So my husband’s plan to have the neighbor stop in daily to feed, water and clean their box wasn’t looking very pleasant.

Thankfully, my adult sons live nearby. Although they’d rather stay at their own place, they know and love the cats. It’s not too unreasonable for my youngest to commute from my house rather than his. He can even bring his cat (she loves playing with my cats).

As relief floods my chest when this plan comes together, I wonder, “What sort of person am I?”

Who worries more about leaving their cats alone than leaving their kids?

Although my kids were always with grandparents or other responsible adults.

Shouldn’t I want the same for my fur babies?

Maybe the relief I feel has more to do with coming home to no unwelcome presents.

That’s what I tell myself.

That and “You’re the best cat mother ever!”

What do you worry about when you go on vacation?

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Why I Would be a Cat Lady

See? Not crazy at all!

I aspire to greatness. In fact, should my husband precede me in death, my great plan is to surround myself with every homeless cat in my neighborhood.

As I mentioned, my husband must die for me to claim this state of blissful coexistence with beasties more independent and opinionated than me.  More opinionated? For those who know me, they realize this is quite the accomplishment.

Each time I get a new kitten, I fall in love with the joy of kittenhood. My husband reminds me they grow up to be cats. Okay. What’s wrong with that?

I realized the other night that my “kitten” is five years old. I say it’s past time for a new one. An additional one, mind you. There’s no getting rid of cats once they’ve bonded with me.

Mustang: formerly a stray; currently a king
Mustang: formerly a stray; currently a king

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at Mustang. Doesn’t he look comfortable? Well-fed? Happy to be part of the family?

He was a stray cat. I left food outside for him. At the time, we had only one cat. The hungry coyotes that live in the woods on the hills behind our house had thoughtlessly snatched two of my cats. One was barely more than a kitten.

Since that time, I decided any new cat would be an indoor cat. This isn’t my preference. I despise the mess and smell of a cat litter box. Truthfully, crying over missing cats outranks this minor disgust.

Mustang appeared on the back deck. He was young. The veterinarian said maybe only two years old when I took him in for vaccinations and neutering. Yes, I’m a responsible pet owner. The feral cat population makes me sad and it could be eliminated if every pet owner took the proper preventive measures.

My husband could not believe I would sit out on our back deck and talk in a soft voice to this stray while bringing him a handful of kibble. Day after day. Until he would let me pet him (the cat, not my hubby) while he was eating.

“We don’t need another cat.” He’s a real naysayer when it comes to the whole issue of cats and how many are “too many.” (See why he has to die before I can become a cat lady?)

Why I Love Cats

Cats are discerning. They aren’t desperate for affection like dogs. They don’t slobber all over you and beg for constant attention. (Actually, Mustang does drool when he purrs. Not the same as slobbering, though).

If a cat deigns to approach you, it’s because they find a redeeming quality in you. It could be just that they’re hungry and you have food. They don’t beg for it though; they demand it with haughty feline entitled-ness.  (I find this ugly in children but appealing in cats…hmmm.)

My most non-condemnatory friends have been cats. I’m spending all my time reading? Okay, they’ll curl up on the open book. Hint: you can pet me now.

I’m sobbing over something. They curl up beside me and purr. There’s nothing more soothing to me than a purring cat. It’s better than a back rub.

I want to be a cat lady because cats and I understand each other. We respect each other’s needs. Mostly, we offer each other plenty of space.

If I’m a cat lady, space may be at a premium. What is the minimum square footage of living space required per cat? Alright, only a select few will be invited inside. The others can descend like pigeons on an open bread bag whenever I head outdoors.

This is more scary than a hoard of cats! (Image from: thehindu.com)

Pet Follies

Yeah, this is a cat's life
Yeah, this is a cat’s life

Sometimes, I really just need to laugh. As much as I enjoy reading blog posts with thought-provoking information, there are days when that feels “ho-hum” because my brain is tired of processing facts.

Last week, I chuckled while reading two uproariously funny posts. In fact, you may have heard a hoot of laughter when this blogger told her cat and mouse story. I’m talking about Kristen Lamb and you can read the cat post here.

Usually I read blogs at lunch or after dinner. That Thursday, I saw the notification while I was eating breakfast, so I clicked on my WordPress app and began to devour it. (WARNING: don’t drink hot coffee while reading this.)

It made me think of my own cat stories. People understand that I prefer the company of my cat(s) over most other forms of company. I’ve already informed my husband that I will become a “cat lady” if he ever decides to precede me in death.

His response, “At least I’ll already be dead.” Well, if that’s what you want *stares daggers into his back.*

The cat we had when we were first married thought he was a supreme hunter. In fact, he was a house cat for the first two years of his life, and we had him declawed because it was more affordable than new furniture.

Without claws, this cat could climb trees and catch mice and birds. He even jumped on the back of the neighbor’s dog, riding it for a few seconds until he was sure it was leaving our property.

Back in the “leave the garage door ajar” days of cat care, we came home to the scene of an epic battle. Feathers floated in the air as the electric opener rolled back “door number one.”

My cats are awesome. They bring presents and leave them on the doormat. They don’t bring them in the house or put them in my bed. I praise them loudly and give them scratches under the chin when they bring a mouse or bird for me.

One morning, we were out working in the yard. I stepped out of the side door and saw my cat had something in his mouth. It was larger than a mouse, but it was black and furry.

It was a bat. I convinced him to drop it and proceeded to lean over and study it, wondering how he caught a bat in the morning. Don’t they only come out at night?

“Honey, look, Stache caught a bat!”

I lean in closer. The bat springs from its faint into my face.

Of course, I screamed and dodged, screamed and covered my head, and screamed. (Did I mention there was plenty of screaming? I’m not much of a screamer, but this was an exception.)

The cat ran away when the bat was moving, too. Yep. Of course, it could have been the blood-curdling screams that sent him crawling under the deck. I choose to believe it was the terrifying bat.

What did my husband do? Laugh. Of course, he patted my shoulder and said, “It’s gone” or some inane drivel meant to stop my hysteria. He thinks the bat flew into the side of the house and fell to the ground, stunned. The cat picked it up from there.

Note to self: a bat flying at your face is scarier than a hairy, eight-legged arachnid crawling on the bathroom counter.

What sort of funny pet stories do you have? If you got even a little chuckle from my story, I’d love to know about it.