We have a pet problem. Or, as perhaps my husband would argue, I have a pet problem; and, unfortunately for him, I live here.
And, if you only hear HIS side of the story, it looks, on the outside, that I have been personally responsible for bringing four animals into this house within the past 20 months.
But, I do humbly offer that, if the whole story is told, he bears some responsibility for the pet load.
And, it begins thusly:
When I met The Man in 1994, lo these many years ago, he lived in a crappy, dirty, bachelor pad-slash-cockroach farm over on the east side, with two roommates, and THREE CATS. (Hank, Patsy, and Dizzy. Yes, he was a music writer. However, they were all girls - even Hank and Dizzy - so perhaps he was going through a gender-confused period. Don't quote me on that.) I had, at the time, just one little kitten, my little Molly girl.
SO, at the time we met, HE was the crazy cat lady. I just want to make that PERFECTLY CLEAR.
Of course, when we moved in together in '95, we combined cats; his three, and my one. The four of them lived together in more or less harmony for many years; though, truth be told, Molly never really ceded trust to any of these interlopers. (Particularly Hank, she of the paranoia and the screaming yowl. The Man found her one night on the street while riding his bike home, and carried her, squirming, all the way home, cat in one hand, bike in the other. He was going to take her to the pound the next day, but then she was all in his lap. SUCKER!!!)
Things, pet-wise, were very stable, through a marriage, house-purchasing, and two kids. A couple of years ago, as we had dreaded for some time, we started to lose our (by now older) kitties. First sweet, cool Dizzy died, suddenly and without warning, as was her way. No frills, no fuss.
Right after that, the OG was going through a lot of anxiety - A LOT of anxiety - and it occurred to me that perhaps a pet was what she needed. My thoughts turned to a small dog, but upon a trip to Petco to investigate doghouses, a cat shelter lady stuck Curbie, the king of laid-back cats, into my arms. I brought him home, the OG flung him over her crooked elbow with not a complaint from the cat, and he was ours forever.
Here is Curbie, the former mangy waif, and now lump of fat smug bastardness:
But, you know? In my mind, Curbie was totally justified. She was freakin' out. And it worked. They've been mutually satisfied with their sleeping-together arrangements since day one. So there.
Anyway, then, the thought of a dog was still on my mind, and my mom suddenly offered to get me a Shih-Tzu. Guilty at the thought of obtaining a purebred dog, I searched in vain for some time for a small dog at the shelter; not having any luck, I eventually relented, hoping that my shelter karma had been fulfilled by Curbie's adoption the month prior. Hence Emmylou, the idiot dog, entered our lives.
(Yeah, I know. It was a lame rationalization for my actions. But, it feeds into my later actions, so stay with me.)
I tried several times to get a shot of her not licking her face. No luck. She's THAT kind of dog.
So, just to be clear, we then had: Molly, Patsy, Hank, Curbie, and the dog, EmmyLou.
But, then, our cat Hank - the yowling one found by the side of the road 12 years earlier - decided that she had had enough with the new additions, and decided to leave home. But - as we found out some weeks later, after vainly searching for her up and down every conceivable side street in our neighborhood, she did not run very far. She did, in fact, move TWO DOORS DOWN. The folks there had to feed her - what with the yowling and all - so though she had apparently decided that we could fuck off, she could not be arsed to actually run AWAY away.
OK. So, we were down now to Molly, Patsy, Curbie, and the dog. Then, my irascible Molly died last year, leaving just (yes, JUST) the two cats and the dog. The only one of our old cats left in our house was Patsy, the grouchy old woman who just wants the new kids to get off her lawn:
So, after Molly's death, I started to feel...just a little lonely for a kitteh to call my own. Thus, I began looking, half-heartedly, for a sweet cat, probably an adult shelter cat, because I still have BAD PUREBRED DOG KARMA to ward off. The girls and I saw a likely candidate at a shelter, and though they were agitating for a kitten, I gave them a long and impassioned speech about how adult cats don't get adopted, and that we really need to not get a kitten because they have a better chance of being adopted, and that this kitty had been abused and had had her front tooth kicked in and was therefore really a hard luck candidate, etc. Anyway, they seemed to buy it, and I told the shelter woman that I would likely take her.
This was Shirley, who is now Iris:
Iris, the formerly abused, and now loving (if a tince neurotic and smothering in her obsessive desire to SIT ON OUR LAP AT ALL TIMES) little girl, with the super-soft fur, and the transparent, endearing, delirious joy in the purchase of the $10 cat bed from Walgreens.
And then? The next morning? I saw Stella at the vet's office, with her little kitten self all clamoring at me:
Could you turn that down? No, I THINK NOT. Stella, adored by all, threatened by none, quickly realized that she owned this effing place. The prize sleeping spot in the house - square at my feet in my cushy pillowtopped bed - has been hers from the moment she arrived, and no one dares to challenge her (mostly because she will jump on them and bite their heads).
Still with me? I'm amazed.
HOWEVER, even I will entertain the notion that the addition of two cats within - um, two weeks - was not, perhaps, the most cognitively well-planned-out thing I have ever done.
Anyway, we were now up to (in order of acquisition): Patsy, Curbie, EmmyLou (the dog,) Iris, and Stella. That, you will agree, I am sure, is the absolute end number of animals that anyone should have in an 1,800 square foot home, correct?
Oh, but wait:
Last week The Man calls up and says to me, "Um...I caught Hank."
So, guess who also now lives with us, again? After not living here for like a year? Yep, it's the yowly one herself, now almost 15 years old, and sullenly (though not altogether unwillingly, it is cold, after all) submitting herself to house rule again:
So, at final count, we are now up to: Patsy, Hank, Curbie, Emmylou, Iris, and Stella.
So, your honor, I submit:
- I am not the original cat lady of the family;
- TWO of the animals were The Man's, originally;
- I am only REALLY responsible for bringing home TWO AND A HALF of the other animals, because a) Curbie belongs to the OG, who needed him for THERAPUTIC REASONS, and b) because Emmylou is really not smart enough to construe one whole living entity. She only counts for a fraction of an animal;
- And who knew Hank was ever coming home, anyway?
*However, I fear he may trump me on one, small issue...he works at home all day, and thus has to be around them, like, 24/7. Again, though, that's not MY fault. He coulda been a pilot or something; I'm just sayin.'
Oh, but you must indulge me in a couple more pictures before I let you go.
The other night, when I went in to turn the OG's closet light out, I saw this sordid scene taking place in her bedroom:
No worriez, though. I iz not to tell of ur sekrit kitteh love.