A Tale of Two Kitties

I am not one of those people who take in animals willy-nilly. For me, pet adoption is a huge decision, taken deeply seriously, but also made largely on gut feeling. It’s basically like marrying someone you’ve only known for an hour, with no information beyond “does well with cats” and “likes to snuggle.” (Incidentally, those are things I look for in both cats and men.)

But is the new cat going to get along with Puss? Will there be some kind of bizarre urine war? Am I really ready to double the litter box, double the hair, double the food and vet bills? (Double the snuggles! Double the play time! Double the purring!) What if the new cat ends up having some super-expensive chronic health problem? What if the new cat just doesn’t take to me? What if…

Oh, stop.

The bottom line is that Herr Puss had been showing me that he was lonely as hell now that I don’t work from home anymore. I’m gone for 12-16 hours of every day, and I feel guilty about it, but not guilty enough to resign myself to quitting everything I do so I can be home with my cat. I try to stay around the house on the weekends, but still. Puss seemed miserable, like he was looking at me saying, “you were ALWAYS here. How come you don’t want to be with me anymore?” I looked in those big blue eyes and saw a feeling that once built a 100-acre farm in mine. Maybe I was projecting, but maybe he really was feeling cast aside.

“What if I get you a buddy? Would that help? Then all 3 of us could pile in bed at night, like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Wouldn’t that be lovely? You can be Grandpa Joe!”

He’s a 12 year old perpetual only child with a ton of personality, a loud voice and sharp claws. I kind of wished I could give him a vote before I opened myself up to having everything in my house peed on in protest. Alas, all I could do is try to find another cat that won’t challenge Herr Puss’s “authoritah.”

As it turns out, Herr Puss apparently DID want a playmate. I introduced his brother, Sterling, with very little drama. There was nary a hiss, in fact. On day 3, I gave them free access to each other and, by day 7, Puss was actually giving Sterling a moment’s peace. He was so excited to have someone else around that he seriously wouldn’t leave Sterling alone. Sterling’s reaction to this was basically “WTF? I’m going to go hide behind the couch.”

So, here we are mid-way through week 2 and everybody seems to be getting along famously, with the one bone of contention being who gets to nestle in my left arm while I watch TV (Puss has put his paw down on this and has won consistently). Sterling is eating everything on Earth and badgering me for head scratching and a bite of whatever I’m eating. Puss seems monumentally better-adjusted, and I am no longer being greeted at night with the signature (and really pitiful) Siamese wail. It’s still early, but I’m willing to chalk this one up as a good life choice. The kitties are happy and mama has stopped feeling guilty all the time. Now, if I could just keep Sterling from eating me out of house and home…

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We are Siamese if You Don’t Please

Every so often, I have a thought that seems perfectly rational to me for about a minute or so before I realize that it’s kind of insane. I will admit that the thought is insane, but there’s still some little part of me that thinks, “but you never know…”

See, The Wingman* and I have taken to referring to Herr Puss as Douche Cat. He earned this title by doing such things as meowing loudly throughout the night, putting his butt in people’s faces, attempting to eat people’s food and drink people’s water (a behavior that has now extended to Crystal Light), and generally being up in everybody’s business. In other words, HP is referred to as Douche Cat (and sometimes Troll Cat) simply for being a cat. At the ripe old age of “twelveish,” Herr Puss may be starting to look a bit threadbare, but shows no signs of slowing down or being any less ornery. He’s Siamese. Evil keeps him young.

Once we started calling him Douche Cat, the yelling seemed to get worse. Then, the insane thought came.

“He’s been around for 12 years. Maybe he’s learned to understand English.”

If he were a human, he’d have understood probably 8 years ago. He’s not human, but he is a pretty smart cat, having figured out how to escape from cat jail (aka the laundry room) AND how to get non “cat people” to pay attention to him (aka “rub my belly” aka “the a game”). So maybe learning English just took him a bit longer than it would a toddler?

Does this mean that he knows we’re mocking him? Can he understand me when I’m talking about him on the phone? He doesn’t know what a douche is, but maybe he understands that, whatever it is, it’s not nice? Are we being terrible bullies, like the cool kids in the cafeteria?

No, Amy. This is insane.
He cannot understand you.

In truth, the thing that most convinced me that he can’t understand English is the fact that, if he could understand me, he probably would have peed on something of mine by now. Or he just doesn’t want me to know he can understand me because then I’d be onto him. I’d try to make him get a job.

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* I realize that calling someone who is officially my boyfriend The Wingman is kind of silly, but using the word boyfriend is still a little jarring, and calling him The Wingman allows me to picture us as pilots from Top Gun. No official word on who’s who in that equation, but I suspect I may be Goose. Obviously, Herr Puss is Iceman.

Forever

(I’d like to preface this by saying that I really DID try to break this up over several days, but each mini-point bleeds into the next. Thus, I say this: read this in sections if you need to, but please don’t just skip the entry. I’m going somewhere with this.)

It’s been a while, readers. Where have I been? Busy, mostly, filling my days with work and filling my nights with a boy, or going to bed early to make up for not getting any sleep the night before. I have put some miles on my body, via treadmill, and my liver, via vodka.

I sense that I’m back now. There was much I couldn’t tell you, much questions, much boring plot summary that you wouldn’t want to hear. And an endless death loop of “what’s going on here? should I be getting attached or watching my back? Is it too soon to just ask?”

Answers: I don’t know, watch your back, yes.

Some people find the initial dance of meeting someone bizarrely exhilarating. The thrill of the hunt or some such. I do not. I find it annoying, tiring and a little demeaning. Every day is this slow ticktock of over-analyzing every little stupid thing, trying to figure out if some guy likes you or if he’s going to abruptly stop calling. I think that this may be why women are always so damn pushy about defining relationships.

There’s this unspoken rule that, time and nudity aside, if you’re not in a committed relationship, the guy can just walk away. He can hit the previous track button and pretend the whole thing didn’t happen. He doesn’t owe you any explanations because, technically, you’re not allowed to get upset. You were just hanging out, and if you were getting attached it’s your own damn fault. The Dropping Someone Like They’re Hot thing still happens in actual relationships, but it’s a little less likely. At least this is what I tell myself. Otherwise, I’d just buy a Wii and never leave the house.

I understand the rules. I have been guilty of hitting the metaphorical previous track button. I know how much easier it is. Strangely, though, my stupid girl brain keeps going. It wonders what it did wrong. It wonders when it did the wrong thing. It wonders why whatever guy in question changed his mind.

Thing is, the only way to stop all the stupid questions is to ask them and you and I both know that you don’t REALLY want to know the whole truth of the answers. Even worse is when someone is too nice to even say “hey, let’s just forget this all happened.” I learned this lesson more than 10 years ago when someone clearly had no further use for me but kept telling me “don’t be a stranger” and “come hang out.” Instead of seeing a subtextual “fuck you” for what it was, the “fuck you” just took 6 or 7 months and cost me parts of my self-respect I still haven’t recovered. I kept trying because I liked him so much as my friend, but two people can’t be friends when the other person feels rejected. A friendship is between equals, and that poor guy couldn’t even look me in the eye anymore.

In my defense, I was ten years younger and had much less guy experience then. I was crueler than I should have been because I had never been on the other side. I had never been ditched. I had never been the rejected one. The one looking at the floor. That was back when I’d been half-assing my relationships. Once I started whole-assing them, I started being the one slinking away, knife-backed, staring at her shoes. My success rate was so much better ten years ago, when I was shy, skinnier, crazier, younger, and dumping every guy before the 3-month mark.

What happened? I realized that half-assing my “relationships” wasn’t good for me, my life path or whatever poor soul ended up dating me. I blame my cat for this. It’s a ballsy thing to bring a life into yours, knowing that you will fall in love but you will also outlive the other life. Even scarier: HOPING that you outlive the other life, because that’s the only way you can make good on the promise you made when you brought that life into yours. It’s the promise of Forever:

“Even if you get old and incontinent, even if you hate me, even if you claw my couch, I will feed and love you for however long you live. When you die, you will do so in my arms, and probably because I have to put you out of your misery. The last way I will be able to do right by you will be to let you go.”

Murphy taught me about the Forever. Even in my darkest, most depressed days when I wanted to just kill myself, he would look at me with big blue eyes, reminding me that I promised him Forever, which I can’t guarantee if I off myself.

Wait, that wasn’t supposed to be present-tense. I am not currently suicidal, no no. Any suicidal tendencies I may have ever had in my life melted away watching Diah’s mom having to bury her son’s ashes. That was the second time I’d had to watch a mother bury her child, and I have no intention of voluntarily inflicting that on my mom. Anyway, where were we?

Forever is a mighty long time, and I didn’t grasp that until a 14-pound cat sauntered into my life and made me his bitch. I understand now. It’s not about finding perfection. It’s about finding someone who’s worth the trouble. It’s not about someone who doesn’t annoy you at all. It’s about finding someone who annoys you much less than everyone else. It’s about finding someone and realizing that you life would be lessened if they weren’t it in.

Part of me wishes that I’d learned this sooner. Part of me is glad that I didn’t, as the breakups hurt much more when you’ve let someone get a good hard look at what lies inside the castle walls, beyond the dragon-filled moat. The consolation of the pain is knowing that you didn’t half-ass things. You went in with guns blazing, lost the battle, and still lived to tell the tale.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Yin and Yang

We are quite a pair, Murphy and I. Yeah, that’s his name…but you may know him as Mr. Puss. Hell, HE knows him as Mr. Puss.

On Wednesday, he went to the vet to get his teethies cleaned. He needed to have one pulled because of some common cat problem that has some crazy-sounding name but means “tooth cracked and is starting to fall apart.” After all the drugs, blood work, tooth stuff, and other fun, he ended up costing me about 600 bucks. This would explain why I didn’t take him to the vet while I went back to school. Anyway, the vet says he’s in good shape for a cat that almost a decade old. He still looks a little rough because they had to shave a patch on his leg for his IV, and he so totally does not care for the liquid antibiotics I have to give him twice a day. Remind me to show you my new interpretive dance titled “Mr. Puss hates liquid antibiotics and would like to express this.” I tried bribing him with Whisker Lickins, but that pretty much only keeps him from hiding from me after I drug him.

I can’t prove it, but I think he decided to give me (somewhat literally) a taste of my own medicine by giving me a head cold. “Oh, bitch? You grab my head and drug me? How’s THIS?” Now do it in a German accent. I don’t know why, but Mr. Puss always has a German accent in my head.

Anywho, I spent the whole weekend lying in bed reading when I wasn’t peeing or going to Kroger to scare the crap out of people and buy more juice for more peeing. Seriously, there should be some law against me leaving the house without concealer under my eyes. Dark circles, colorless lips, and hair that says “I don’t give a fuck.” What could be sexier? Coupling those things with a NyQuil zombie stare and mouth-breathing.

Mad props to Herr Puss, though. He stayed right next to me in bed the whole time. Him, with his shiny new molar filling…me, with an ice mask tied around my forehead to calm the sinuses. Quite a pair.