Tag Archives: cats

Guilt

Guilt

In the spring of 2010, we adopted two kittens from the SPCA.

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Normally I prefer to adopt older cats, as it’s harder for them to find homes, but it had been almost 3 years since we’d had any cats, and the kids had never had a kitten, so this one time we made an exception.

We were lucky to find two littermates, who we promptly named Lewis and Clark.  They were so tiny and sweet, but incredibly independent.  As they grew, they developed their own personalities.  Clark was the hunter.  Our mouse problem disappeared as he got big enough to keep them intimidated, and we would occasionally find “gifts” on our back porch.  Lewis was the explorer, always wandering further and further afield.  They were indoor cats for the first year, but once they were old enough and knew where home was, we started to let them have outdoor time.  Lewis became more of an indoor/outdoor cat.  He would insist on going out every morning when we did, then would come home for a few hours before going back out to patrol the neighborhood again, only to come home for dinner and the night.

But time went on, and when they were about 3, the worst happened.  Clark was hit by a car.  I wasn’t home, so Morgan was the one who got the news.  He did a good job of collecting the body, but he was devastated. The kids all took it pretty hard.  We had our traditional pet burial, with everyone sharing a good memory of the pet and asking him to send us our next one.

Lewis took it hard, too.  He seemed….lost.  Like he couldn’t figure out where Clark had gone.  He moved in with Morgan and became pretty much exclusively his cat.  He spent more time outside, even during the winter, really only being in the house at night.

I could understand that, and I’m entirely about letting a cat be a cat.  I’m kind of a laissez faire pet owner.  For me, pets aren’t children.  They’re animals we share space with.  Cats are hunters and explorers, and I respect that.  We tried a couple of times to keep Lewis in, but he managed to escape every time, and it just became too frustrating for both sides, so we let him do what he wanted.

But I wanted a house cat.  Hence our trip this winter back to the SPCA and the adoption of Hudson.  Who has been a great addition to the house, except for one thing.

He and Lewis hate each other.

I’m used to cats not getting along when they first move in together.  In all my past experiences, after a couple of weeks they adjust and, maybe not become good friends, but at least learn to cohabitate.  Not these two.  Lewis would hiss and yowl every time he saw Hudson, and Hudson would sit and stare at him daring him to try anything, or else stalk him, never initiating contact, just always being in Lewis’ space in a “Mom, he’s touching me!” kind of way.

By the time spring came, Lewis had had enough.  He moved out.  Permanently.

For a while he would still come home, but would never come in the house, just camp out on the front porch.  Morgan and Eric set him up a shelter with food and water there, and would go out and give him attention whenever he’d come around.  By mid summer, though, even that had stopped.

We still see him around the neighborhood.  This is a relief in some ways, to know he hasn’t been hit by a car or anything.  He’s neutered, so he’s not adding to the neighborhood population.  But he won’t come near us.  This hurts Morgan the most, to have this cat who was HIS cat run away from him whenever he sees him, especially when Morgan has seen strangers able to approach him.  I also feel bad because we’re responsible for him, even if he won’t let us take care of him.  If we could, I’d like to catch him and try to re-integrate him into the house, but he won’t let us close enough to try.

It’s hard, mourning a cat who’s not dead.  He’s not yours any more, but you can’t mourn him and move on, either.  You just wait.  And think about how you let him down.

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Hudson

Hudson

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I’ve been wanting another cat for a while.

We got Lewis and Clark over 6 years ago.  They were/are great cats, and a great introduction for the kids to owning kittens.  Unfortunately, Clark was also and introduction to pet loss, as he was hit by a car two years ago while I was at work and Morgan had to deal with it without me.  Since then, especially since the addition of three new rabbits, Lewis has become almost exclusively Morgan’s cat.  He eats in Morgan’s room, sleeps there, and really is only comfortable around Morgan.  If one of us opens the door for him to come in from outside, it’s a 50/50 chance whether he’ll come in or run off.

So for about a year, I’ve been wanting another cat for the rest of us.  I’ve always been a believer that cats happen to you rather than the other way around.  I’m sure it comes from my childhood when we always had LOTS of cats.  Usually at least for, but there was one point where we had 10-14 at once (Mom and I were debating the numbers last week.  Needless to say it was a lot.)  Most of our cats have come to us by someone asking if we wanted a cat/kitten/stray.  Lewis and Clark we got from the SPCA because we specifically wanted kittens.  Usually I prefer to adopt older cats because it’s harder to find them homes.  Older cats and black cats.  But nothing was coming our way.  About six months ago, I started occasionally checking out the SPCA website, just in case the perfect cat came along.  Last month, I wanted to go over in person to see what they had.  But that’s dangerous.  You can’t walk into a shelter and not walk out with an animal.  At least I can’t.  But I knew we were going away at Christmas, and it didn’t seem right to bring a new cat into the house and then not be there to a) bond with it and b) supervise the awkward introduction to the existing cat.  But for some reason, Monday I felt like it was time.  I was home for the day, and this week is a short week anyway with the New Year’s holiday.

First things first, though.  I had to get the menu and grocery shopping done, as we had no food in the house besides leftover Chinese.  And my room, where the new critter would have to live for a few days during the adjustment, was a pit.  So if I got both of those things done, I was allowed to go and look.  Look, mind you.

Yeah, right.

Well, apparently that was enough incentive and by 12:45, Hero and I were on our way out to the shelter in Perkiomenville, where the website said they had at least two cats that met one of our criteria.  See, we went into this with a plan.  The way to keep from taking just any old cat home was to have a list of things you wanted in a new pet.  We had 4.

  1. It had to get along with other animals
  2. It should be friendly.
  3. We would like a long hair.
  4. We would like a black cat.

Really, only the first two were required.  We couldn’t have an animal in the house that couldn’t adjust to Lewis and at least tolerate the rabbits.  We all wanted an affectionate pet.  We love Lewis, but he just won’t let us pet him much, and he certainly won’t sit or sleep with us.  The appearance points were just preferences.  I love long haired tuxedo cats.  But if we’d found a smooth calico that fit the first two requirements?  I’d be for that.  I’ve always wanted a calico.  And I honestly didn’t care if it was a kitten or an adult.  Kittens can be trained to tolerate other animals.  List in mind, we cleaned out the cat/rabbit carrier and hit the road.

I’d never been to this branch before.  We usually go to Conshohocken, as it’s nominally closer.  The Perkiomenville branch is out in the boonies, but it’s a nice facility that includes a farm for larger animals.  The small animal room was nice, with three walls of crates for the cats, a couple of smaller cages for rabbits and guinea pigs and the like, and a glass enclosure in the middle with a couple of cats hanging out in it.  One of them was a big fluff monster that I liked the look of right away.

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He was in with a young tabby, but the fluffer, Teddy by his label, just laid there and ignored him until the youngster came over and took a swipe at him.  Then he got up quickly and took a “back off” swipe but didn’t actually go after the other cat.  I liked that.

We looked at the other cats for a bit.  There was a dark tabby 1yo with white paws who was very playful, and an all black 2yo polydactyl (extra toes!  They’re good luck!) who was friendly.  But I kept coming back to the fluffer.  The keeper opened the enclosure for to meet him better.  We weren’t allowed to pick him up, but he came right over to use and started demanding scritches.  That covered three of our criteria.  He got along well with other animals, at least other cats, he was friendly, and he was a long hair. AND he was already neutered and had all his vaccinations and a clean FLV test.  Perfect. The poor thing had been there almost 6 weeks, and I’m really not sure why, unless it was because he was supposed to be ours.  Which I know is superstitious, but he was such a sweet animal, it’s hard to think of another reason no one would have scooped him up by now.  But I didn’t want to leap without being sure.  There was one other long hair, this one a marmalade color, but when we asked about seeing him, the keeper said he didn’t play well with others.  So that was that.  We grabbed “Teddy”‘s card and went out to do the paperwork.

One problem.  They only take cash or credit.

Gulp.

See, I had plenty of money on my credit card, but I didn’t have much on my debit card.   Actually, at that moment I had no idea HOW much I had on the debit card.  I’d mailed in a deposit before we left, but with autopays and the like, I hadn’t checked my balance.  Heart in my shoes, we got in the car to run over to the local Wawa’s to see if we could get the cash.

I just about cheered like a slot machine paying off when the machine spit out the cash!

We hurried back, made the payment and gave them our carrier, then waited while they implanted a microchip in him (all part of the service!) and brought him out to us.

While I stood there waiting, a woman and her 10yo daughter came in and marched up to the counter, proud as could be, carrying a small carrier of their own.  I heard the mother say, “We were in yesterday, and we’re here to adopt Teddy.”

Double gulp.

When the clerk told them Teddy had just been adopted, the lobby went silent.  Then I heard a sniffle.  And a sob.  Oh god, I felt TERRIBLE.  Hero came out in the middle of this, so I pulled her aside to explain and then SHE felt terrible.  And the poor kennel worker who brought him out to us had no idea what he was walking into when he gave us the carried and said loudly, “Enjoy your new home, Teddy!”

Crap.  We got out of there fast.  I really hope she falls in love with one of the other cats.  (He never would have fit in her carrier, anyway.)

He needed a bath badly, and the vet had advised us that he was a few pounds overweight, so a stop at the pet store was in order for shampoo and food.  But first off, he needed a new name.  I’m too much of a snob to have a pet named “Teddy”.  Plus we’d had a dog named that when I was a kid.  So I wanted something interesting and at least marginally fannish.  What we’d seen of his personality didn’t suit anyone from The Force Awakens, so my immediate fallback was Sherlock.  But he was no Sherlock, and lord love him, he’s not quick or clever enough to be John.  I lingered on the Watson idea, though, and had kind of decided on Nigel after Nigel Bruce when Hero suggested Hudson.  Which was PERFECT.  It fit the recent trend of giving our cats explorer/historical names and fit the fannish requirement.  And he’s tabby-ish, in honor of the other cat I’ve known named Hudson, a stray my mom had had who she and my siblings named after Hudson Hawk.  So Hudson it is.

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He was good the whole ride home and while I was in getting his goodies.  There are way too many choices in cat food, let me tell you.  We got him home and into my room, shut the door, set up his litter and food dish and let him out.  He wasted no time coming out and exploring the room.  He did hide under the bed for a bit, but then came out to demand attention.  Pretty much if there’s a person around, that’s where he wants to be.  Which was fine, because we were happy to give him the attention.

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After dinner he got his bath.  Considering how big he is (fifteen pounds), I worried that I might have trouble with him, but he just stood in the water and complained while I soaped him up.  Unlike most fluffy cats, he didn’t get a lot smaller when he was wet!  Hero got the comb and we started working on his knots.  It wasn’t too bad, but bad enough that it took a while, especially his belly. Then he just leaned his damp body against me while he noisily groomed himself in revenge and then took a damp nap on my pajamas.  But he dried out a lot softer and floofier, so it was worth it.

He’s a bit of a bugger to sleep with.  If you even brush him with your hand, he thinks it’s scratching time, so I got head butted a couple of times in the night.  And he’s not great about covering his poo, so it was a little odiferous.  But I’m sure that’s from the change in diet and will level out.

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I’m taking my time letting him out of the room.  First off, I want my room to be his comfortable place.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cat willing to share a bed with me!  And second, since Lewis isn’t always indoors a lot, I want plenty of time for them to get to know each other with a door between them.  Mom gave me the tip of rubbing both cats with facecloths that we could then give to the other cat so they could get used to each other’s scent.  Lewis wasn’t wild about this idea, and Morgan has the scratches to prove it, but it seems to be working, as Hudson is very curious about the Lewis cloth and Lewis slept on the Hudson cloth (although maybe he was just marking it as his.)  Hudson was not pleased when I went to work Tuesday morning and left him on his own.  But by Thursday afternoon, I’ll start giving him free range of the house.  By that point, they should hopefully either resigned themselves to each other or they just need to get it out of their systems.

But I think our timing was perfect, and Hudson is going to be a good addition to our family.

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