What can I say about our family? Anyone who tells you that having pets instead of kids is easier is lying through their pie-hole. At least with kids they grow out of the whole vomiting-pooping-themselves-teething-on-the-furniture stage. Having cats and dogs is like having toddlers who are just learning they are their own little person, that “NO!” is a great word, and not doing what their told can be enormous jolly good fun!
The first cat I ever got on my own was named Slippers. I got her in Boston after a breakup, and she teased me with her paw through the cage at the SPCA. When I looked closer, she was polydactyl, and sweet as pie. She came home with me and she nursed me back into society, and I nursed her through pneumonia. She was a study in evolution, because those bad boy front paws were like opposable thumbs – I saw her pick kibble up in a pincer motion once, and it made me sleep with one eye open from then on, waiting for her to start using the phone and coordinating the cat uprising. We moved to LA together and I survived (so did she) her falling off my balcony. She was nowhere in the house and I was totally puzzled until the doorbell rang and a neighbor had her, looking a bit worse for wear. She was my Picasso-painting-faced love bug. She would dough-knead and wool-suck on a blanket all night if you’d let her.
She was joined a few years later by Henry, a very proper B&W Tuxedo. This cat was a little man in a kitty suit. A real gentleman. I kept searching for his suit zipper so that maybe Prince Charming would pop out – but he was neutered, so that wouldn’t have been much help anyway! Henry liked to talk. He was very insistent in trying to tell you something, and he would always look deep in your eyes imploring you to understand. I went in to Petco for food one day and walked out with him. His owners were moving back to Lebanon and couldn’t bring him. Henry smelled like Patchouli and Sandalwood when I got him and his fur was like velvet. Smart and spoiled rotten. The sweetest, most loving cat I have ever known.
Slippers and Henry did not get along so well – Slippers being grumpy and Henry being assertively friendly. So what was my solution? Get another kitten to bridge the gap. My ex brought this little white ball of fluff home from a foster home, where her whiskers and eyebrows had been cut off. I called her Cricket, because she made a sound in between the monster from “Predator” and peeping. She did bridge the gap, and we had pretty much harmony at home.
One day, I noticed Slippers was not eating. Now, she is very much like her mommy and there is not a meal she has met that she didn’t like. Upon further inspection, her ears, lips, and mouth were jaundiced. She had gotten liver disease and died soon after that. I was inconsolable. Henry and Cricket missed her too.
I moved in with my then boyfriend (now my husband), and brought them with me. They tentatively checked out the house, and soon found their favorite spots in the new digs. Now, along comes a little Force of Nature named Bella.
Bella is a Pug. She was bought as a puppy from a pet store by my husband’s brother and his girlfriend. When they broke up, she went to Grandma, who lived next door to us. Bella got toast and jam, carrots, green beans, and pretty much anything else she wanted! My hubby would walk her and generally, fell in love with her. He brought her over from Grandma’s a couple nights after I moved in, to meet the cats, and immediately, she knew the house was not just hers anymore. So what did she do? Chased the cats, barked, snuffled, turned away from us… and took a huge dump in the middle of the dining room. As if to say, “MY HOUSE!”
We lived in family bliss for quite a while. Bella came to live with us full-time after Grandma passed. If you didn’t know, Pugs are notorious food hounds (I’m sure all dogs are, but Pugs are… something else). Bella got schooled one day from the REAL alpha in the house – Henry. She had thought it fine to gobble up Henry’s kibble, and sat grinning and panting at the front door, very pleased with herself. Henry walked up to her, sniffed her muzzle, raised a paw, then smacked her in the face, as if to say, “How DARE you eat our food!” Bella knew her place then, for sure.
Henry made it to 18. It was the most difficult thing I had ever, ever had to do. I didn’t want to let him go, but he had to. The house seemed duller and quieter. Cricket was despondent and alone, and started throwing up a lot, and got very skinny. Bella missed him too, as they had developed a camaraderie and mutual respect.
Well why not, let’s bring in to the mix, my husband’s first kitten. We got her from the Humane Society and had her fixed. Cricket did not take kindly to her, nor did Bella. We kept her secluded in our bedroom after the spaying surgery, and she slept with us, out of it. She wolfed down wet food and purred and growled as she ate. She also peed on the duvet the first night, but that was our fault! She was too little to get off the bed herself to get to the litterbox. Neither of us had really had a kitten before, so we were a bit like new parents I’m sure.
So, here we are… Cricket, 13; Bella, 9; Sissy, 3. It’s a non-stop barrage of treats, wet food, prescriptions, nail trims, anal gland extractions, vomit, hairballs, litter boxes, shredded toilet paper rolls, dog farts, snorting, snot flings, grooming, attacks on the feet under the blankets at 3:00 a.m., constant meowing, purring, barking and howling… and you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. At least none of them has ever given me attitude the way teenagers give it to their parents. We’ve had adventure, heartache, terror, joy, and tears with them, just like their human counterpart children. They love me and my hubby absolutely, unequivocally, unconditionally, and we reciprocate it right back.