I was standing in a long, cold line recently where people were hauling out wallets to show off pictures of loved ones in wallets. Actually, mostly they were showing pet pictures. I don’t have any cat pictures in my wallet. Perhaps I should, but I figure my cats use my wallet enough.
It has been a while since I’ve penned about the mess machines – I mean adorable kitties – who reside with us.
One time, about a million years ago, I wrote a sarcastic (who, me?) column during Adopt-a-Cat Week that highlighted some of the less-desirable features of cat ownership. I got a letter from the SPCA saying something like, “Don’t do us any favours, sweetheart. Could you maybe NOT promote Adopt-a-Cat Week anymore? Oh, and we’ll be keeping an eye on you, missy.”
Ah, fan mail.
You may have noticed I have a love-hate relationship with my cats. My family never had cats when I was growing up and, in the way someone tends to believe the best about something they covet, somehow I came to believe cats are Extraordinarily Low Maintenance.
It’s true: cats are much lower maintenance than some pets, but this does not necessarily mean they can flush the toilet, operate a can opener and do their own laundry. All it really means is that cats have huge egos, think they are the boss and don’t need to be walked on a leash, although they might let you think you can try.
I’ve written before about how one’s relationship with their pets can change once they have kids. I know mine did. Certainly I still love my cats, but my adoration lies elsewhere. It has been hard to refrain from gritting my poor teeth some days as I clean up toys and crumbs and dishes and laundry, only to be confronted with (Warning! Yucky stuff!) hairballs and cat-hair tumbleweed and occasional accidental unmentionables followed by a trail of cat litter.
There are days preceded by interrupted sleep when I would like to either ship the short messy people and their furry counterparts to a far-off place for a while – or perhaps ship myself there. But I suppose I’m not really allowed to say those things.
Suffice it to say, the fur children have grown up. They are entering their senior years, and this comes with a whole host of complications. MacGregor, the large loveable tabby, requires special expensive food to counter his chronic urinary tract issues. His meals are laced by times with a laxative and he gets a daily dose of Metamucil. Yes, it’s all true. He has sluggish innards.
The aptly named Filibuster, who never stops yelling, is even more entertaining because he is diabetic. He gets a needle a day and eats special diabetic/diet food. This leaves him constantly hungry. Gone are the days when we could abandon the kitchen for a little while before doing the dishes – now plates must be scraped immediately unless we want them licked clean. There’s just one more reason why you might not want to eat at my house.
Each adult in the house has a preferred cat. Groom-boy and MacGregor are thick as thieves, possibly because they both enjoy napping so much. Buster is “my” cat. Sometimes I’m not sure why, though. Possibly it’s because he is the underdog. He has an annoying habit of waiting until after the short people are all nicely tucked away and snoozing in their beds, and as soon as I enter the room he starts “talking” to me. This cat has a lot to say and, unfortunately, it’s not usually a quiet fireside chat. No, he yowls about it nice and loud.
This strikes me, in my end-of-day weariness, as just one more creature shouting out demands, so it’s a bit grating. Sometimes Buster finds himself slightly damp from a squirt bottle because “Buster! Shut the heck up!” (and other bad words) doesn’t seem to work.
I admit life wouldn’t be the same without the cats. They are part of the pulse of the household and the kids adore them. They are endearing, albeit expensive. Besides, some of the best things in life take a little work, patience, ear plugs and paper towels, right?
(Published in The Perth Courier, Nov. 17/09)