Cats Are Gross, Too… (Part 1)
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By now, you know all about my experience with my first dog… Both as a child and again as an adult. If you don’t, then you simply must go read Dogs Are Gross and then come back here. It’s worth your time, I promise! I’ll wait.
It’s worth it! I’ll wait!
Okay? Welcome back!
After my parents welcomed Brandy the dog into our home (well, technically our backyard), I became aware of a weakness in our system. My dad. Although my dad knew the secret, he also knew that love for a pet could overcome a whole lot of gross. I was a typical little girl and I had my doting dad wrapped right around my child-sized finger. I failed to mention before that my natural aversion to dogs was equaled only by my fervent and passionate love for all things cat-related. So, once the dog experiment worked, I began to work… on getting me a cat, and on my mom, who was not quite yet ready to overcome the gross.
Dad came to my rescue and convinced mom we should give it a try. And so Ivan came to be a part of our family. Ivan was a sweet orange tabby who looked much like Morris from the old 9 Lives commercials on TV. Ivan was front-foot declawed, as most genteel housecats were in the 1970’s, and quite a looker. As soon as Ivan entered our home, he began earning my love. Almost as quickly he began earning my mother’s contempt. Cats, much like dogs, are animals. And we have established that my mother knows the secret about animals. They are gross. And not meant to live inside of people houses.
Ivan was loved… but Gross
You can see a picture of Morris HERE, and it just so happens that 9 Lives is celebrating 50 years of Morris in 2018. You might find a deal on some cat food!
When your cat vomits up the great food you just bought, you can pick up some of this great cat vomit cleaner here!
In the 1970’s it was common to find circular metal support poles in the basements of homes. My dad had lovingly finished the basement in our small ranch home, and, in a brilliant and fashionable move, he carpeted our metal poles. It was disco sheik down there with those poles and our brilliant orange décor accents. I wish I had a picture to share the beauty, but alas, you’ll have to use your mind’s eye to imagine how fabulous it really was. Unfortunately, Ivan got a little carried away with the disco mentality and began using his back claws to climb the support beams. This did not please the maternal unit in my home at all. My brother and I thought it was pretty fabulous.
Speaking of my brother, it was about this time that he thought it would be a great idea to take Ivan the cat on a walk. It seemed Ivan had missed the litterbox a time or two and left some unfortunate floor nuggets in our groovy basement. Casey thought a walk outside would solve this little problem. He tied a small homemade rope leash to Ivan’s collar and dragged, I mean, escorted Ivan outside and down the street for a leisurely walk. Poor Ivan was not in agreement that a walk would solve anything and objected to the whole situation. I, being a sensitive child, took umbrage to all of this, and cried. I did a lot of that in those days. But I digress…
Ivan had to go…
Not long after the cat-walking episode, Ivan “disappeared”. My parents sat me down and told me sadly that Ivan had run away. I blamed this very thoroughly on my brother. It was all his fault for forcing my precious li’l orange furball to go walking outside against his will. I was sure that my brother was completely responsible for Ivan’s disappearance. I could only imagine my poor Ivan out there on the mean streets, struggling to survive. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on the horror.
Now, imagine my dismay when I found out some time later that Ivan had NOT actually run away. Instead, he had been given away! To a family friend. Oh the betrayal! It seems that the pole climbing and floor nuggets, likely combined with other animal-like habits, had led to the unfortunate end of his time living with us. My parents were just too soft-hearted to tell me that he needed to go, so in an age-old (yet often doomed to fail) parenting move, they decided to fabricate a lovelier story of why Ivan was gone. Nice try, parents. We’ve all been there.
Time to try again!
After enough time passed, I got over the trauma of Ivan’s disappearance, re-doubled my efforts and began the campaign for another cat. About that time, a strange coincidence happened (insert ominous music here)…
As his story goes…. after a long shift at work one rainy night, my dad made his way out to his car in the dark. Upon approaching the driver’s door, he heard the distinct cry of a kitten. It was wet outside. It was dark. It was cold. And there was a tiny, black and white kitten crouched under the car, wet and shivering. What choice did dad have but to bring that sweet little kitten home to his kitten-starved daughter? So he did. Surely mom couldn’t say no to that sweet little thing, could she? Of course not. And so, Wiggles came to be a member of the family. We lovingly named her for the serious case of wiggles she had. She loved to attack anything and everything, toys, toes, furniture, you name it, she pounced it. She preceded each attack with her tiny back end wiggling in prep for the pounce. She was darling.
Wiggles was darling!
She was also destructive.
She was also destructive. Wiggles took up where Ivan had left off by climbing the pole in the basement. In addition, after her front-paw declaw, she miraculously grew claws back. So, mom and dad had her re-declawed. I bet you didn’t know that was a “thing,” did ya? And… you guessed it, those claws grew back again. She was clearly gifted with claw-growing skills, so it only made sense that she would want to keep those treasures nice and sharp… by using mom’s furniture, and, well, pretty much anything in our people home, including the carpet, wall corners, and stairs. You name it, she clawed it. All that wiggling and cuteness did not negate her absolute animal-ness. And let’s say it together this time, animals are GROSS!
You must know by now where this is going. It was decided that she, too, must go. We gathered around for a family meeting, where mom and dad explained to me that she needed to go. I can’t remember the specific reasoning they gave, but I will say they must have been quite convincing. I was on board with finding a new family for her, where she would find a whole new level of happiness. Of course, as soon as we had dropped her off, I found myself in a puddle of tears in the backseat of the car, lamenting that I had ever agreed to such a terrible idea. But it was too late. Wiggles was well on her way to wiggling into some other child’s heart… and destroying some other mom’s home.
A New Hope!
and my first childhood HERO…
Time passed… I grew older… But I did not outgrow my longing for a sweet cat. At about age 11, I began a new campaign for a cat. I was relentless, and mom finally gave in. The announcement came – I could have a cat. On one condition. That it be a Siamese cat, a female, and that it be FREE. Technically that’s three conditions, but I was 11, so what did I know? All I heard was a big, fat YES!!!
I quickly set about finding my cat. Turns out just two blocks over, a friend of mine had a neighbor with a litter of kittens… and can you believe it? They were Siamese! With one box checked, I went to visit the neighbor and her kittens. She kept them in a hallway closet that had chicken wire placed where the door used to be. This assured that they were safely out of the way with plenty of air. As I was adoring those sweet little kittens, the kind neighbor showed me one tiny little girl kitten who had tried to make her escape and had slipped down the chicken wire and sliced her little tummy open. It was just the kind of injury that could be treated at home with some butterfly stitches, but it rendered that sweet little kitten “not show quality,” and therefore, not worth a whole lot.
With great enthusiasm, I told my neighbor lady all about my mom’s one condition. She smiled sweetly and asked if I wanted that kitten. She is one of my early heroes in life. What a sweet and generous offer. I’m not sure my mom would consider her a hero, but when I went home and told her all about my new kitten, she knew I had her. She had set up what she thought were standards that no one could reach in kitten shopping, and I had reached them. It was a miracle!!!
We went to get my sweet little kitten a few weeks later. Neko and I immediately fell in love. She slept with me, she snuggled me, she followed me around and sat on my lap while I read books. She was my dream pet and I loved her.
My cat’s name was Neko, which is Japanese for CAT and pronounced like the Necco in those old wafer candies. If you are interested in learning Japanese (or any number of other languages), you simply MUST check out DuoLingo. It’s FREE! You might find a cool pet name while you’re at it!
If you are now hankering for some
Necco candies, you can get them here
Unfortunately, she also created and vomited out hairballs, she left copious amounts of cat hair on anything she touched, and she peed on the floor outside of the litter box. But of course she did, she was an animal. And as mentioned, my mom knew this would happen. She knew the secret of the animal. But, it turns out that my mom had finally reached a new stage of motherhood. She actually loved me more than she detested that animal, and just didn’t have the heart to strip me of my very best friend. So I was allowed to keep Neko. Thanks, mom!
Neko lived about 15 years. She kept me company through all of my middle school and high school years, through boyfriends and teen girl drama. She was even there for me that one time I removed my skirt on stage in front of my entire high school (another story for another day). She held vigil outside of my bedroom door at home while I spent a school year as an exchange student in Japan. Yup. She was my steady rock. Every girl ought to have a friend that dedicated.
When I got married and moved out, Neko came with me. She was the perfect cat if you could look past the hair and the vomit and the pee. We even put a little cat door in for her at our first house so she could get to the litter downstairs without leaving the basement door open. After the birth of my second child, our vet diagnosed Neko with a terrible case of cancer in her jaw. Soon after we got the news, her face started to swell, she lost teeth, and she began drooling. Cats are not meant to drool, so we knew when it was time to say goodbye. It was a terrible illness and a heart-wrenching goodbye for a beloved friend.
It should be no surprise to anyone that it didn’t take long before I was ready to bring home a new baby kitten. You see, I was so blinded by my love for Neko that I didn’t ever fully grasp the concept that cats are indeed gross. It wasn’t until I had a string of my own cats come in and out of my life in my child-rearing years that the pieces started falling into place. But that’s another chapter in the Cats are Gross saga…
To be continued…