I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m not a cat person. Somehow, having said that, I’ve had more than a dozen cats in my lifetime. Mostly, they belonged to roommates or husbands .. odd to make that a plural, as I’ve only had the one .. so I don’t claim that they’re MY cats. Because I am not a cat person.
When I was a youngish teenager, we had two cats – Brak & Lincoln. They were gorgeous strays that a friend of ours told us about; he worked as a vet tech and always seemed to bring home the three-legged, one-eyed pets that no one else would adopt. The two kittens came home with us, and .. I didn’t much care for them. They were mean. Not only to each other, but TO ME. Um, DO YOU KNOW WHO FEEDS YOU? Gah, I didn’t much care for those cats.
When I started living in the eclectic local neighborhood of Five Points, we always had porch cats. They weren’t ours, but they loved our porch swings and shady handrails, and they were just always around. I didn’t mind those cats, because they weren’t there all the time.
Bryan had two cats when we started dating. They were both older than dirt. Shelby and Friday. Shelby was an all-black cat who was 100% the black cat stereotype. She was a total bitch. But for some reason .. she was a kindred spirit to me. She ate my hair religiously, which I didn’t like. And she shredded furniture, which I was not a fan of. But she was much like a gargoyle, and we felt .. safer with her around. I don’t know why. When I was pregnant, she spent 16 hours a day on my abdomen.
Her health rapidly declined right before Tony was born. And five days after we brought him home, she wandered off, as if her purpose had been served.
(So, funny story there – the knock you NEVER want to get? Your neighbors coming over, five months later, to let you know they found your cat. Under their house. We gave them a Target gift card to make up for the stench and the removal process.)
Friday was .. not a cat. He was a dog in a cat’s body. He was the sweetest, funniest, most dog-like cat I’ve ever met. People who are adamantly not cat people (like myself) LOVED Friday. We still laugh about his exploits, even though we had to put him down a while back. Totally sweet cat, and we’ll likely never have another like him.
We had about a month with no cats. It felt weird, even to me. Not even a good weird; an emptiness that we couldn’t define. So I acquiesced. If I found a cat I liked, we could get another cat.
We met Lola in an adopt-a-thon at our local pet store. She had been caught at a local marina THE DAY BEFORE, so no one knew anything about her temperament or her medical history or anything. But she was a black cat. I was sold.
Lola? Is a total bitch. She is moody and intolerant and cold and needy and THE BOYS ALL LOVE HER AND SHE IS VERY SWEET TO THEM MOSTLY. There was the time that she tore Tony’s eye open on Christmas Eve and we spent that afternoon in the urgent care, but HEY! Boys are stupid and while I’m all Um, she has lost the right to live in the house, the boys are all, “Why do you hate her so much?”
(In reality, I don’t hate her. But I have a certain coldness for animals that don’t appreciate how good they have it. LIKE LOLA.)
Every so often, the boys will ask for another cat. (Because three dogs, a cat, and now a snake aren’t enough.)(In our 1500 sq ft home.) I will staunchly laugh in their faces because HELL NO.
The weekend of Jack’s birthday, my in-laws came to visit. I had to work late on the Friday they drove in, so I met them for dinner at a local wing place. The boys were giddy with the news that a cat had “found us” and was living under the house. They couldn’t get the cat to come to them, though, so they were worried.
I drove home after dinner, and the cat RAN up to me and glued herself to my side.
And THAT’S how we got another cat.
We affectionately call her Phoenix, because she is gray and has definitely seen some ashes in her time. She is covered in scabs from flea bites and is horribly malnourished. When she “found us”, she was also dangerously dehydrated. A couple of weeks in our garage and LOTS of wet food and high-calorie paste, and she’s looking better. Frontline on the second day of her stay helped with the fleas (although her skin is still scabbed pretty badly).
And this is where I need your help.
About the fourth day of her stay, I was outside with her when one of our neighbor’s children came up to me and said, “Oh, you found our cat!” and I said, Wow, she belongs to someone? We figured she was a stray because.. and they said, “No, she’s an outside cat. She comes home and we feed her. But she’s been living under your house.” The child was no more than 13 or so, so I just sternly said You guys should probably take her inside for awhile and the child said, “No, that’s okay” and walked away.
This cat is obviously neglected. These are our NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS and the cat clearly hadn’t eaten in a week (probably longer). It’s almost been three weeks now and she’s JUST NOW gotten to the point where she won’t scarf down a cup full of food twice a day.
Every night, we debate what to do. We’ve left our garage door cracked so she can come and go as she pleases, but we cannot make her an inside cat. Lola, as always, hates her. As she hates everyone. We tried one afternoon to bring Phoenix inside just to see and it did not go well. Not to mention our three dogs. (Belle and Mabel, actually, don’t really care about her at all. It’s Beau who is MAJORLY INTERESTED.)We’ve debated calling local rescues, but ..
Tony is OVER THE MOON about this cat. Tony loves all of our animals, but he LOVES this cat. At least three times an evening, he will dart out to the garage, shouting “I need to go! Phoenix needs me to love on her again!” over his shoulder. He is often out of his booster seat before I’ve parked the car in order to find Phoenix. He wants to feed her at every opportunity. He freaks out if she’s “gone on an adventure, cause her’s an outdoor cat”. The child has never been so ga-ga over anything, and that includes Fruit Ninja.
I realized it was a lost cause when I had to throw away some bubbles last week because the solution was so low that the wand couldn’t reach it. I put it on my mental list to buy more – because Tony loves to blow bubbles for Phoenix, since “nobody’s scared of bubbles, Mom”. When Tony asked me last night about the bubbles, I pulled a Mom Lie: Oh, honey, I think Phoenix knocked over the bubbles and spilled them, so I threw them away.
My child looked directly into my eyes, pulled a Puss In Boots, and said, “No, Mom. I knocked those over. It wasn’t Phoenix, so don’t be mad at her. It was me.”
And I felt about six inches tall.
Speaking of Puss In Boots – Lola’s been pulling that too since Phoenix arrived. Here is Lola normally:
(Glare and all. ALL THE TIMES.)
Here is Lola since Phoenix arrived:
SHE IS SO CONNIVING. (I kind of love it.)
So there ya go. What do we do? Is it considered completely gauche now to have an outside cat? That is the only way we’d be able to keep Phoenix, I’m afraid. There is just no place in the house that she could have safe and calm. WHAT DO I DO?