Monday, October 18, 2004

The Story of My Life My Cat

Have I ever mentioned that we have the most neurotic cat in the world?

No? Well, gather 'round, Gentle Readers, this is juicier than it at first appears.

Shy Kitty [not his real name, but heck, everyone else has a pseudonym, why shouldn't he?] is the least sociable member of our family. This may very well be my fault: despite being a lifelong cat person, a combination of family allergies and rental rules left me without feline companionship from the ages of 7 to 26, so I didn't really know what I was doing when someone gave me this little kitten they'd found.

You want the whole story? It wasn't "someone," it was RW and her then-girlfriend, let's call her [more pseudonyms!] TheaterGirl. [I played a large part in getting them together, but that's another story for another time, thank God.] RW, TheaterGirl, and RW's two cats [both since sadly deceased] were all living together in a small apartment when TheaterGirl went to the Safeway one day and came back with a 6-week-old kitten from a box of kittens someone was giving away. She fell in love. This little striped kitty was so adorable, so smart, so tiny.. please, ma hon, can't we keep him?

RW thought not, and her cats thought not even more emphatically, so the two human members of the household cast around their circle of friends for some sucker kind-heared, cat-loving soul upon whom they could foist the kitty. And they lit upon... me! Single, heartbroken [another long, long story for another time], living in a studio apartment with a "no pets" clause--what could be better?

I saw the kitty. I loved the kitty. I took the kitty to live with me, rental clause be damned. The kitty proceeded to spend every night tearing the place up, burrowing under my covers and nipping at me, and crying. I continued to be heartbroken and I think perhaps did not properly bond with the kitty in his youth, though I did try my best. The kitty ended up being something of a silent loner, even when we moved to another place with other pets and people and he became an indoor/outdoor cat [please don't write to yell at me about the outdoor-cat business; he kept jumping out the windows and running out the door, demanding to be outside, and finally I got him his shots and a collar and made it official].

Some three years later, RW and TheaterGirl broke up, and a shockingly short time later RW and I became an item. [I was not the cause of the breakup. Honest. I was an innocent bystander. RW and I were not even glimmers in each others' eyes. We weren't even each other's type. Oh, wait, right, back to the cat.] RW began spending nights at my place. Shy, silent, loner kitty was not used to me having company and would come nuzzle around us and snuggle down in between us, whereupon RW would engage him in conversation by meowing at him. She'd meow, he'd meow, she'd meow, he'd meow; I'd ask "What'd he say? What'd he say??"

So: long story short [hmm... not that short, I see. This was going to be a brief post, but I got sidetracked]: My silent, antisocial cat became a loud, meowing, demanding, antisocial cat, and continues to be so today. He is 12 years old, skinnier than ever, and not as spry as he used to be, but for an outdoor kitty he is doing all right. When I moved in with RW seven years ago, he became her cat too, which seemed to indicate a sort of cosmic feline justice in the universe, since really it's because of her that I had him in the first place.

Our next-door neighbor, The Renovator, expressed concern about Shy Kitty's skinniness a few weeks ago, and spurred by that and by my own guilt at not having taken him to the vet for longer than I care to admit, I took him in and had him checked out. They gave me some medicine to sprinkle on his food for his arthritis; did some bloodwork, which turned out fine; and gave him his long-overdue shots.

Part of Shy Kitty's weirdness is this meowing-at-the-door-and-then-refusing-to-come-in thing. He's done it for years, but it seems to be getting worse. The other night he was sitting out in the rain yowling and yowling and then refusing to come in. I tried, I coaxed, but nothing doing, so I started getting Mermaid Girl some dinner.

Suddenly: a knock at the door. "Mama!" cried Mermaid Girl, but no: it was the Renovator from next door.

Me: "Oh, hi, Renovator, how's it going?"

Renovator: "Fine, fine. I just wanted to let you know-- did you know your cat's outside, crying to come in?"

I told him I knew, and that the cat wouldn't come in when I offered.

Then he asked if I'd taken him to the vet. I told him I had. He asked if the cat was okay. I told him the vet said the cat's fine.

He left. I had the disturbing feeling that he's aching to call the SPCA on me. He already thinks we're total slugs for not maintaining our yard.

Shy Kitty, do you want to get me in trouble? Do you want to catch pneumonia? Why, oh why, won't you come in out of the rain?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shy Kitty's predecessor, Madame Maude, learned how to count to 2-and-three-quarters. She too would meowl outside the self-same back door, but when I'd open it she'd look away and sniff. So I began counting, "One...two...three" and at three I'd close the door. Very quickly, Mme Maude learned to zip in just before her tail got caught in the door on "three." But so far, Shy Kitty disdains not only most people but mathematics too.
- Renaissance Woman

6:18 PM  

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