Sunday, February 1, 2009

My life is much quieter today

We'll get back to our regularly scheduled blog in a few days but first I have to get this off my chest. And I have to say I'm so sorry to the two kitties in the photo above.

You see, as I settle into my new apartment I wanted to realize one of my dreams: having a pet. I grew up with horses; I trained dogs and scuttled around barn cats. And now that I finally live in more than room again I figured now was a great time to get a pet. Really I wanted to get a dog but I just can't do it. I'm not home enough to care for a dog and I don't want to give up my social life in order to care for one. Also, I liked the idea of cats as independent animals. Sure they'd want pets and love and for me to clean the litter box but mostly they'd kind of do their own thing. Perfect pets for an on-the-go 20-something.

So I settled on a cat. After talking to several of my friends who have cats they recommended that I get 2 so they could keep each other company. Easy enough. My first thought was to get kittens because they are just so damn cute. But I adopted right after the holidays and the pickings at ASPCA, AC&C and even North Shore were pretty thin.

At North Shore I met two adorable calicos named Erin & Evelyn. About a year old, they were calm and friendly even in the madhouse environment of an animal shelter. I knew they were the kitties for me and so I adopted them on January 4th. They were immediately rekindled Latke and Knish -- my (belated) Hanukkah kittes. On the way home Knish meowed the entire way...who are you? Where are we going? Are we there yet? I talked to them for the entire drive, telling them we were going home.

Once home I opened the carrier and allowed them to come out when they were ready. Knish came out right away but Latke spend most of the first day in the carrier. They didn't eat much for the first few days and I was really scared the second day because Knish spent almost all day sleeping in the carrier coughing and sleeping and I thought she was really sick.

Luckily both cats were healthy. Soon their true personalities came out: Latke was the more aloof and active kitty. She spent her time up on my windowsill cooing at the birds across the alley. Knish always wanted to be by my side. Or, more accuarately, on me. Literally in my lap at all times. Very needy kitty. For the first week or so I allowed her to climb all over me unabated but soon I grew weary of this.

Knish -- always RIGHT there.

I started training her that climbing all over me without permission was not OK. We made some good progress but every time a guest came over she would fall right back into it...climbing all over people. My biggest issue with this is that she liked to give love bites to people's faces. Nothing like BFF M's kitty Tolstoy who straight out bites but a bit alarming to someone meeting her for the first time. The worst was that she would do this to people in their sleep. I had four friends crash with me at various times over the past four weeks and each time I heard someone wake up saying "OW!" to a facial kitty love bite.

I was totally willing to work on this, though it worried me so. They did the typical kitty things like scratching anything but the scratching post (I tried both fabric and cardboard) and even a sofa cover didn't really dissuade them. Nor did bitter apple spray.

Latke -- watching.

Overall though they were great kitties. Not scratchers, not really bitters, good dispositions, endless source of entertainment. The issue for me became two things: 1 -- my alergies started acting up and 2 -- they always wanted to be right with me. The second item really disarmed me. They meowed constantly. Not just when they were hungry. They meowed when I went to the bathroom. They meowed when I left; they meowed when I came home. They meowed when I was right there sometimes. Knish was much worse than Latke. Her meow sounded like, "mom" to me. Mom, mom, mom, mooo-ooom. All the time. In an attempt to help my allergies I closed my bedroom door at night and she would sit right outside almost all night just meowing. It got a bit better as time went on but it was grating. A couple of nights I gave up and let them in but Knish just wanted to paw my face and give me love bites. I couldn't take it.

It became that everything they were doing started to annoy me. They would run around the apartment playing in the middle of the night and crash into things. They would scratch the door to my bedroom and the walls (which I found so weird). They clawed my rug; they clawed my couch. Knish loved to run my rolls of toilet paper. I put a little bell on it so I could catch her in the act but eventually I just closed all the doors to my other rooms. I got them playthings -- squeaky balls, mice with catnip and a fishing pole so we could play together. Except the cats were kinda dumb with the mice -- they always batted them under the stove and fridge. You'd think they would learn to play with them somewhere else, and I always presented them on the opposite side of the apartment...but no, every day I had to fish the toys out.

One day a bit over a week ago I caught Knish ruining yet another roll of toilet paper. Incensed, I chased her around the apartment with a water spray bottle telling her no. After a minute of it my faculties came back and I said to myself, "Roxy, what the hell are you doing???" I couldn't justify my actions but in that moment something became clear: this just wasn't working. I was beginning to resent the cats for forcing me to change my life. I know that's incredibly selfish and it pains me to admit it. They made me happy sometimes yes, but more often then not they were making me frustrated. I have such a tough job at work that all I want to do is come home and unwind. But the cats wouldn't let me unwind. They wanted attention -- which was reasonable -- but I just didn't want to provide enough. My skin is rashed, my nose is runny and my eyes itch. But mostly, I just want to be alone.

I gave myself a few more days to change my mind. The responsibilities: feeding, changing litter, etc. didn't bother me at all. Oddly, it was the peripheral stuff that was getting to me. And even though I felt incredibly guilty I realized it was best to take the cats back to North Shore. It would be worse to keep them and resent them. Maybe I would eventually grow up a bit and learn to love the cats. But chances of that didn't look good. This just solidifies that I am a dog person. They were great cats but their temperment was not right for me. I feel like 99.9% of people would have loved to have these two cats. What the hell is wrong with me? They would do better in a family I think, where someone could always be paying attention to Knish.

So on Friday I called North Shore and made preparations to bring the cats back. And my god it was awful. Latke just laid quietly in the carrier for the whole drive, but Knish was giving this terrible gutteral meow. Almost like a no no please no. I was bawling the entire way. I felt terrible. I feel terrible. How unfair and immature of me was this? The only comfort is knowing that North Shore is no-kill. I sat in the parking lot crying for 20 minutes, giving myself one last chance to change my mind. I didn't. The staff didn't ask me any questions except if the cats were healthy. I kept it under control until they brought the empty carrier back out. Then I totally lost it.

To say I am disappointed in myself doesn't even begin to cover it. Some animal lover I am. I couldn't even deal with two kitties. The projections made mental leaps in my head -- if I couldn't deal with two cats how would I ever deal with kids? What is so wrong with me that I resent two other beings in my life? It wasn't like they were asking for much. Today my life is much quieter than it was yesterday. And I feel so much worse. This regret is terrible. I don't regret bringing them back, even though I almost called to get them back. The regret is getting them in the first place. How unfair of me. How immature of me. I am totally beating myself up here.

And I owe two little kitties an apology. I hope someone better than me adopts them soon and forever.

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