A Tale Of 4 Cats

A

Rabbit Hash, KY is a real place. I swear.

For a while, they had a dog as mayor. I mean, I guess the dog could still be mayor, I haven’t kept up on Rabbit Hash politics.

I’ve been more consumed with politics on a national level. But we’re not talking about that. For all that is fucking holy, let’s just not talk about that for a minute or two.

We’re going to talk about 4 cats.

So, many years ago, I took my son and two stepsons on a drive. We ended up going through Rabbit Hash, KY.

In order to get to Rabbit Hash, one must pass through Beaver Lick, KY and drive past Big Bone Lick state park. I’m not even kidding. One time I went to a wedding at the Beaver Lick Baptist church.

So, we were driving through Rabbit Hash and stopped at the side of the road because a little girl was giving away kittens.

We hadn’t really talked about getting a pet, but I knew my husband at the time wouldn’t mind. We picked out a little white kitten with a gray smudge on his forehead and named him Cujo. I didn’t know at the time that white kitties usually start out with a gray smudge and then lose it. That’s what Cujo did. He lost his smudge.

A few months after we got Cujo, my second husband picked up a little tuxedo kitty. The cat had been abandoned and it really didn’t look good for the little guy. I named him Vincent. He was so weak that when he sat back on his haunches, he would lean his head forward and rest it on the ground.

Vincent improved and kept getting better. He never got bigger than a large kitten, though.

I was a terrible pet owner when I had Cujo and Vincent.

I had them declawed because they were scratching up my furniture. At the time, it was commonplace to have a cat declawed. I didn’t know that it entails more than their claws, they remove all the way back to the first knuckle. Or whatever a knuckle is called on a cat. I didn’t know that removing their claws causes them great anxiety.

I just didn’t want my furniture destroyed.

Then, we moved from an apartment to a fairly large house. I didn’t understand how difficult it was for cats to move. So, we just moved them.

They didn’t react well.

Even though they were both neutered, they both sprayed fucking everywhere in the house. My big beautiful new house in the impressive neighborhood smelled like that cat house at the zoo.

My sister had a friend who wanted my cats and I gave them to him.

I was a terrible pet owner.

I have felt guilty over those cats for over 25 years now.

We have Alfie and Gertie now.

They have claws and almost always use their scratching posts. Although, Alfie loves to shred our box springs and Gertie is fond of curtains. I don’t give a shit about the box springs and the little pin prick holes in nearly all the curtains aren’t Gertie and Alfie noticeable. Or they are. Tomato tomahto.

Alfie has been with us for just over two years and Gertie has been with us just under two years.

I can’t imagine the circumstance where I wouldn’t take care of them. I mean, I’m not super happy when Alfie shits on the rug in the living room, but it’s not the end of the goddamn world. It’s not my favorite thing to step in Gertie’s hairball puke in my bare feet, but it’s just a few swipes of a paper towel to clean it up.

I wish I had been a better pet owner for Cujo and Vincent.

They were good kitties and deserved better.

I will honor their memory by always doing better with any creature Randy and I welcome into our home.

Can I stop feeling guilty now? It’s been a quarter of century.

Also, if you’re on the fence about adopting a pet, just go do it. Seriously. Go get one. They make everything a little better and we all need a little better right now.

 

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31 comments

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  • I just went through a round of re-forgiving myself for various ill-thought-out decisions I made back when I thought I was smart. I’ve reached a point in life where all my miscalculations are auto-functioning and I no longer have to monitor them with my guilt. That doesn’t make the guilt go away, no. It does mean, though, that I can stop following up the guilt with actions, and retain that available space I didn’t have when I was in charge of the miscalculations. I can actually do things now that I wanted to do – should have been doing, if we want to use the s-word – back when I was cleaning up my own messes. It’s not as awesome as it sounds; it’s awkward. I’m confident this is a good thing, though, because I still think I’m smart. I think I’m going to steal this comment from myself and make it a blog post.

  • We all make mistakes, but it also means a lot that you saved Vincent’s life and gave him and Cujo a pretty good life. And you’ve done well with Alfie and Gertie. I can tell from the expressions on their faces in that picture–the expressions that say, “Away with your snappity-box, monkey, bring us food.”
    And, in addition to making me want to be a better pet-parent, you’ve given me another life goal: I want to go to Rabbit Hash. And Beaver Lick and Big Bone Lick.
    I’ve been to French Lick. Spent a week there and had a great time. I should go to the other Licks just to add to my collection.

  • You have turned into a great cat mama. It’s all good. I have had all of my cats declawed except the last two. It was what everyone did. And yes I still have moments of extreme regret because of declawing those kitties and the pain they went through. I will NEVER declaw another cat. And I will try to make sure that everyone that I know realizes what a horrible idea that it is.

  • I think it’s kinda like parenting. I am a much better Gramma than Mama. THAT guilt will never go away and is a big factor in my boys’ decision making skills today :'(
    Oy.
    I am also a much better pet owner, but, just as my parenting skills were learned from a ‘less than desirable’ parenting example, so were my animal loving skills 🙁
    Our guilt can only be resolved by ensuring our current animal and child love/care is the accumulation of all our good and bad: erring on the side of caution, sacrificing the rugs and curtains and choosing death with dignity for their final exit.
    And we are rocking it <3
    I have horror stories from my animal Mama fuck-ups. I have horror stories from my human Mama fuck-ups and I would change them all in a heartbeat. But, I am also confident that my furbabies these days are happy and have the best of my intentions and actions.
    Just like you <3
    We've come a long way, Baby 😀

    • We have…we certainly have. I can barely stand to consider my human momma fuck ups. Of which there were many. But my kids know I love them and I know they love me.

  • I was surprised when at age 25 my first cat died after being hit by a car and I lived right off a busy street! Looking back, just stupid! Now my back yard is cat proof and my cats are not just let out to roam free. We all make the mistakes of the young.

    • Our cats are both indoor. Alfie (the black kitty) won’t even try to get out. Gertie would make a break for it. We’re in a urban area, so I don’t think it would go well for her.

  • I love the names of the places you go, and I was a real bad petowner in the early days. I once had a dog that ate my shoes, only mine and everything of it. It took me a while to discover where the hell my shoes went.
    I gave the dog to my mother in law ( the one of that periode in my life) She had it for 16 years and the Dammes dog never ate anything but his food!!

  • I’m in the middle of yet another “move from/to Hell” and the one major concern I have is catching my cat, stuffing her in the bathroom for the move, and then re-catching her to take her to the new apartment where she will yowl for days. And all with a fairly newly broken leg. And no real help. If it weren’t for Xanax I would have set fire to everything (after putting it out in the front yard so the neighbors wouldn’t be harmed), and then relaxing in prison for the next several years – no bills – no rent – aahhh, the good life. (I am kidding, of course).

  • You are so sweet and possess a tender heart to still be worrying about those first two cats. I am sure they are up in kitty heaven sending you lots of love and positive energy for everything you did for them. All my best to you in your new digs.

    • Thank you! We’ve been here nearly 10 months now and I just painted the walls in the last room on the first floor. Now the upstairs and the basement..so only 2/3s of the house to go! Yay!

  • awe. cat stories. i have hundreds of them and yes, true confessions, i’ve unintentionally been a bad pet steward in the past as well. i cringe when i think about some of the dumb things i did or didn’t do. i’m an animal person. at one point we had two newfies (huge newfoundland dogs), a giant golden retriever, who thought he was a newfie, two cats, a bird, a hampster and a lizard. it was exhausting, but most of them had a good run … that was 20 years ago. we’re down to one amazing and high-maintenance rescue dog and one dumpster kitty who is so gorgeous and quite a princess. thanks for your honesty. we do our best and when we learn, we do better. 😉

  • I grew up raising livestock, so when, at 19, I got four cats sort of by default (two sort of wandered up and stayed, and two were rescued from someone who was playing “kitten darts” with them in the parking lot of the restaurant I worked at. OK, “kitten darts” is where you gently toss them onto the carpeted walls of the inside of your creepy stalker van. Hey, it was the seventies.) I trained them like I would train any animal I was responsible for. We were nowhere near any busy streets, and our house was the guest cottage behind a huge Victorian, so all four were “outside” cats, and our kitchen window was nailed in place just open enough for cats to come and go, and not for the nonexistent burglars on Pine Street in Eureka, California to get in and steal my music equipment, which was all I really owned.
    When I broke up with my girlfriend who lived there also, I just moved out, leaving her the apartment, which was a two bedroom for $200/mo.
    But my new apartment wouldn’t let me have any pets, and as they were half Janet’s pets also, I just left them there.
    A couple of months later, I got a phone call from a neighbor of the old apartment asking where my cats were.
    I tried to explain to him that I didn’t live there any more and he said: “I know that, you moved in June. We’ve been putting food out for your cats for over a year now, and they haven’t been around to eat it for a couple of weeks now.”
    I felt awful for a minute until I realized that the cats probably couldn’t live with Janet either and just left for one of the other places they had obviously been cultivating. I was taught to train your animals to be able to take care of themselves should they ever have to, and I hope that’s what happened to those cats.
    I still feel bad for abandoning them, though, even in a situation where they were being cared for, and partly because of that, I haven’t had another pet until the cat we have right now, who also claws the box springs, and is about to have to learn how to live with another cat when we move out of this place at the end of the month.

  • I’m pleased to pull out a T-shirt that doesn’t have pick holes from my last cat, who died a year and a half ago. I have grieved long enough… This summer: new felines!! New pick holes!!
    (Always fun to gussy up a bit for a night out and find those tiny holes in your shirt. Oh yeah, I rock dressup.)

  • Two things: One, Pet guardianship, like everything else in life, is a learning curve. Go easy on yourself. We all make “parenting” mistakes I think. At least you recognize your missteps and have worked to avoid repeating them. I’ve known people who don’t do that well with their children.
    Two, I’ve been to Rabbit Hash, KY. Adorable little corner of the world.

    • Oh I love this. You know the general store burned down a few years ago. I believe the rebuilt, but I don’t know for sure, we haven’t ventured that way in a while.

  • Live and learn. That old guilt just won’t ever fully let go, will it? Like fuel to the anxious mind. You’re on your way, though. ❤️
    Never liked cats. Never stopped me from bringing home every stray I found until we had four. (There was the pregnant one who had kittens under my bed, but that’s another story.) And a dog. When the fourth cat came home, a rather dumb bunny who ran like a raccoon, third cat said, I’m outta here. Ole Crazy Eyes freaked my mother out anyway, so when he took up residence up the street, we didn’t mind so much. (We spotted him in front of the neighbors’ house sporting a pink collar. I bet he hated that.)
    Hubs was thrilled and brought the hammer down: no more damned cats. Two of the remaining three were major badasses. Another neighbor spotted one of them stalking a deer in the front yard and was so impressed, she sat in her driveway to see how it panned out.
    When they had all passed, that was it for cats. I miss their sassy selves. But not the litter boxes.
    Our second dog died in October and took a chunk of my heart. We recently started fostering beagles. The one we have now was abused and headed for certain death as he was a failed hunting dog. It’s taking a lot of time to get him to trust us. But as you say, we need the distraction and satisfaction of loving and caring for pets, especially now.
    Sorry to be so long-winded. I think I have many,many pet stories and not enough time to tell them.
    Thanks, Michelle.

  • I love that you and Randy finally got cats and you’re obviously great with them. I just tried to watch Zorro on Netflix with the last of my wonderful rescued fur babies, all of whom I raised from tiny kittens. My lovely Tia spent most of the movie trying to attack the buttons of my dress through a mesh jumper, it’s the little things that make you laugh 🙂 She’s 15 this year and I try not to think about that, but I know that however long we have left together, she has been loved and cared for, and for all that people say cats are aloof, she never has been, wrapping herself round my neck like a scarf, and coming for a cuddle when I’m sad or ill. Cats rock!

    • I love that so much! Our cats are not super cuddly…but Alfie usually ends up with his butt smushed into my armpit sometime in the night. And Gertie lets me love her on her terms. Usually, she has to be on a window sill. They’re both awesome, though. And Randy is a goober for the cats. Haha

  • My first cat was Kitty (because I was a brilliant name-giver as a child). She was one of a litter born to a neighbor’s cat. I don’t remember the neighbor’s name, or whether I ever met Kitty’s momma. Daddy didn’t like cats, so Mommy let me get her without telling him. He was quickly won over by that little calico ball of fur, and he’s been a cat guy ever since.
    My currents, as you may already know, I rescued from my neighbor, who had unwittingly “rescued” them from their feral momma. My dark-chocolate baby girl is Cocoa, and her big grey brother is Smokey. Because I’m still a brilliant name-giver. They’re 11-ish years old? I had Kitty for 17 years, I think. I hope, since these are strictly indoor, that I’ll still be loving them for another nearly ten years!

By Michelle

Michelle

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