It seems the influence of cats in my life never ends. Many of you may remember my October 6, 2002 daylog about Sam-the-kitty and his manipulation of me into his slave for all time. (He was really cute, grabbed my leg, purred at me, and said “take me home”. I’m such a pushover.)

It appears there is now a second feline addition to the wuukiee-den. I’d like you to meet Misty, a kitty with a story even more complicated, and I think sadder, than that of Sam.

About a month ago on a Sunday afternoon, pmdboi, mcc and I had gone to Target for various stuff. Got home, parked the car, unloaded all the crap we’d bought, and headed in. At the edge of the parking lot we were greeted by a pitiful looking little cat obviously begging for food. She was timid, but obviously not afraid of humans, and more obviously in horrible shape. Looked like she’d been out at least a month. I picked her up and carried her to just outside my apartment and sent the guys in for a can of cat food. She ate the entire thing, then wolfed down most of a plate of hard cat chow as well.

After she’d eaten and had a long drink of water, a closer investigation of the kitty was in order. She was TINY—her body was mostly the size of a full-grown (albeit small) female cat. She weighed about THREE POUNDS. A cat her size should weigh between seven and nine. Her fur was horribly matted and covered with grass-burrs, made worse by the fact she was a longhair to begin with. She had overly large green eyes and a roman nose, which made her look more like an anime cat than a real one. She may be part Maine Coon Cat, having the long coat, a thick undercoat, and coarse guard hairs along her back. She also has a faint “mask” characteristic of the breed. Her ears are tufted, but her paws aren’t hairy or huge enough to indicate she could be any more than half, and probably a quarter, coon. Her tail is huge and bushy, nearly as large around as she is. She’s a brown and black tabby/tiger marked cat, and each hair is agouti, or ticked with several bands of color on each individual hair. Her face and stomach are a ligher caramel and the bottoms of her feet are black. This lent her coat a very wild look and would be more at home on a rabbit, a ferret, or a raccoon than a housecat. She had scabs on her face that looked like she’d been hit but good with some cat’s claws, and a nasty head cold. She also had a very old, very worn, mostly broken collar with tags on it.

So we left her outside with food and water, wrote down the tag number, and planned to call the humane society in the morning. An hour or so later, there was a knock on the door. A neighbor was holding her and asked “is this your cat? She ran in my front door when I opened it.” Now seeing as the complex is set up such that you must go through two doors to enter any one apartment, that was somewhat impressive. About that point, she squirmed from his arms, hit the floor, and ran in MY front door. “No, but I was feeding her and planning on tracing her tags in the morning. I guess I’ll let her stay the night. Thanks”. So she spends the night in the bathroom—collapsed on the bath mat and sleeping much more soundly than a cat ever should. (She slept the next two days straight, only getting up to eat and use the litter box. She was exhausted.) I held her in my lap later that night, and Sam sat on his haunches, groundhog style, and as gently as could be started petting her neck with one amazingly graceful white paw.

Got up, went to class, came home, called the Humane Society where her tags were registered. Got a name and number and address. S’all good, right? Not exactly. First, their address was close to mine. Too close a range, in my opinion, for all but the youngest of kittens to get lost in. But we call anyway, and no one answers the phone, nor does their answering machine even identify who lives there. Ok, they’re not in, fine, call later. On a whim, check Purdue’s lookup and find out there’s a work number listed as well. Call that number to be told the lady only works two hours a day, between 9 and 11, and oh, she just left to go home call back later. A call home produces no results either.

This goes on. For two and a half weeks. No, before you ask, I did not leave a message. People have and will claim animals that are not theirs in situations like that. But we kept calling, multiple times a day, never an answer, even when we drove home and it looked like people were in. Always she’d just left work “five minutes ago” even when it was 9:30 and she’d supposedly been in only half an hour. I combed the lost pets section of the newspaper, called the pounds to see if anyone had reported a missing longhaired tabby, I combed lost pet websites online, we drove by their place, no signs, no posting, no NOTHING.

And after two weeks, this “mystery cat” isn’t acting like she has anywhere she really wants to go. I’ve found strays before who just want a meal and a place to sleep and then go off on their quest to find their homes. And I feed them and pet them and wish them the best of luck in the world, and off they go. The little girl acted like she wanted to be an indoor-outdoor cat (she’d get outside, but not run off, just plop down in the sun), but she sure wasn’t acting like a cat on a quest for someone she loves.

This was looking less and less like a person who really cared about or wanted to keep her cat. I know my calico used to run off a lot in Houston and we’d put up sighs if she was gone more than 5 or 6 DAYS, nothing so long as two weeks. The final straw soon came. Called her work number again. “Oh. Um. They left on a two-week vacation yesterday. They’ll be back in early July.” Another call to the pound produced exactly no results. No, no one had called in about that cat. That is THE fastest way to get your animal put down, you know. Go on a long trip and fail to call EVERY SINGLE SHELTER in town to say “this is our cat, if she comes in, hold her.” They hadn’t even called the pound she’d been adopted from.

As of today, they’ve been back from their trip at least a week now, if not two. There are still no signs or flyers or lost ads in the classified section. And somehow I’m not suspecting there will be.

So now she’s been off to the vet, amazingly the worst thing wrong with her was the cold which she’s been medicated for but still has. No FIV or feline leukemia. She’s put on two and a half pounds, still underweight but looking much better. Her face looks much more normal with the extra weight.

I think she’s going to be Andrew’s cat, really. He’s fallen in love with her, and he’s hoping to get an apartment next year so he can keep her. Otherwise I guess she’ll live here until then. In any case, she’s not going anywhere but with one of us. She’s seen enough hardship as it is. This one’s not going back to the pound. And she’s been named Misty. Short for “mystery cat”, or possibly “Mystique” as she looks like the kind of cat who’d shape shift in the middle of the night just to annoy me or tease Sam. And also, as we all know, “the fog comes on little cat feet” after all.

She and Sam get along fairly well. Sam’s totally enamored of her and dotes on her. She bosses him around incessantly. She used to be horribly afraid of him and hissed and growled every time he entered a room. In a 2-room apartment that’s a problem. Now they’ll lie a couple feet apart and she’ll take a halfhearted swat at him if he tries to sniff her too much, but no claws and no growls. They love to chase each other at all hours of the day and night, much to my dismay. Sam seems much happier—I’ve worried for a while he’s lonely, coming from a multi-cat household all his life. He’s the most gentle creature I’ve ever met, and seems not to realize he weighs three times more than she and could just bowl her over if he chose—he’s an easy fifteen pounds and almost no fat. Instead he tolerates her abuse and pestering in a very even-tempered way, and purrs at her when he thinks she’s not looking. She's a sassy little thing. We considered naming her Donna (as in "prima") but that seemed way too much like tempting Eris.

I am writing this to inform, more than anything else. People ask about Sam, wonder how he’s doing, and genuinely seem to care. So I wrote this as another bit of news about my cats.

What to do, whether or not to keep her, caused me much grief. It was a very hard decision to make and I asked many people for advice in the process. In the end, I chose, and I think I chose rightly. So I’m really not interested in hearing about what a horrible person I am for having stolen this cat or whatever. (Most people have been very supportive but a few have been hostile about it.)

I also somewhat hold the belief at this point that if an animal shows up in my life, there’s a good chance it’s meant to stay there. Our dog, four of the seven cats I’ve had or were part mine, a parakeet, and a rabbit all entered our lives by utter chance. We found them as strays or they arrived at our place or other random happenstance. Owners were looked for. None were ever found, and so the creatures stayed. This has shaped my opinion towards the matter, and I know it. But don’t we all have our own biases?

What follows is a rant of the most bitter and possibly offensive nature. If angst bothers you I recommend you pretend this part of my daylog does not exist and just read the “yay happy wuukiee has a kitty’ part. We will all be better off if you do so.

I should say here that animal cruelty, whether it be neglect or outright abuse, gets my hackles up faster than just about anything else. People who chain their dogs in the backyard as ‘guard dogs’ with no room to run, people who keep “outdoor cats” and leave them to forage instead of putting out a simple bowl of hard food, people who buy a bunny for their kids for Easter then keep it in a rarely-cleaned cage when the kids don’t take proper care of it… these people hold a special place of blazing hatred in my heart, and if I believed in hell they’d be some of the first ones I’d send there.

Gang shootouts, deaths in bar brawls, I can almost see a balance to. There’s provocation and response, and someone did something to make someone angry enough to cause things like that. (Violence against innocents is one thing, but people do a LOT of really shitty things to one another and then act surprised when people do shit back to them.) People do things to provoke others. People ask unreasonable things of others. The only thing animals ever ask of us is a place to sleep, warm and dry, and enough food and water to stay alive. They’d like our love, of course, but they don’t demand it. And no Platinum Visa cards, or designer sneakers, or million dollar sports cars, or bullshit like that. They don’t do things like cheat on us, or move out and drain the joint bank account, or total your car just out of spite. Anger towards other humans is very often justified in my bitter little mind. (Violence, less often justified, but sometimes it is. ) Anger or violence towards animals, I can’t think of a single case. If they are hostile, if they bark, if they bite, it’s because WE made them that way. We trained them as guard dogs, we bought them from puppy mills where they were poorly socialized, and we thought it was “cute” when they did this or that.

Halfhearted animal owners would soon follow the animal abusers. The people that will reclaim their cat if someone gift wraps it and hand-delivers it, but won’t call their pound to see if it came in. The people that take in their animals but neglect them so they run away again. WE once found a rabbit in our yard. Its owners were found, and the animal returned. It kept running off and showing back up at our house, and the owners, knowing where we lived, came over and reclaimed it several times. Each time it showed up it looked worse and worse. Eventually it never showed up again, and I assume it died. It was practically there the last time I saw it. It is because of that incident that I hold my belief that people who don’t’ care enough about their animal to actually find it don’t deserve to have it back. That’s the reason I never left a message and never placed a classified ad. I expected these people to make the first move if they cared about the cat at all. I looked for EVERY sign I could have that they wanted her or were at all interested in ever seeing this cat again, many many times. I never saw a single one. Yes, I took a passive approach with this animal. Maybe you think I should have taken more “active” steps. But you cannot say I did not make a good-faith effort, and you cannot say I did not try. You can, and you may, think I’m wrong. But now, at least, you have some idea why I chose as I did.