Justin's Rambling Story about Cats

A recent Everything Poll asked whether we, as a whole, were more cat people or dog people. I answered that I am neutral because I love animals of all kinds. Okay, bugs creep me out a little bit, but you're just as prone to find me embarrasing myself with a dog as you are with a cat.

I've had five cats in my lifetime, and I think that they warrant mention. Mokey was my first. Being the small child that I was, I named her after a character from my then favorite TV show, Fraggle Rock. She was a black and white domestic short hair (DSH), and she loved to do that happy feet thing on me while I read on the couch. Lefty was probably my favorite. His name was very appropriate, if not entirely original. You see, Lefty had only three legs, but he thought he was a dog (he panted when he got tired), and he could outrun Mokey. I think this is because he ran like a rabbit. You could also see how grateful he was to have a home when you looked at him. He never misbehaved, and he was content to be carried around by a young boy. Indy was my first non-black and white DSH. She was brown and black and tan and all sorts of other colors. She mostly kept to herself, and she didn't seem to like me very much. I liked her okay, but she was definitely one of those independent cats. She took to peeing at the bottom of our staircase, and my mom took all three of them to the vet and had them put down "to keep the others from doing it, too." I cried for days. As a matter of fact, I'm a little misty right now.

It was years before I got another cat. All of our others had been rescue cats, but this one was different. My dad only agreed to take him because he was going to be put down the next day. So Brutus came home, and he's been with me ever since. My folks had him declawed (just like the three that came before him), and this changed his disposition toward them. Sure, he'd come out when it was time for breakfast, but other than that, he hung out in my room. I think he knew that I wasn't the one that did it to him. When I moved out of my parents's house two years ago, I took him with me. He seems pretty happy in California, but I think he'll like our new house in Colorado better. Other than that, he throws up a little more often than I'd like, but he's a good boy, and he made living alone bearable. If the worst he does is throw up on the carpet, I can deal with that.

After getting married, my wife moved out to California because it's where my job was located. She didn't bring her cat, Isis, with her because she didn't think it would be right to tear her away from her folks's other cat, Sunny, with whom she wrestles, meows and has a generally good time. In an attempt to fill that hole a little bit, we went to the local Humane Society and picked out a kitten that would be ours (instead of mine since Brutus has been with me since he was a kitten and is now 14). She picked a silver tabby, and we dubbed him Cassius. We joke that all we need now is a big dog named Ceaser, and we'll be set. Cassius is the first cat I've ever had that has his claws. It's not as scary as my parents led me to believe. Sure, I've got a little scratch on my hand, but I'd rather have a small scratch than have another animal whose fingers were all chopped off at the first knuckle.

The catbox (the real one, where cats pee, not the talking one) is my responsibility. The smell doesn't get along with Jenny, and I don't mind. After all, she cooks and cleans our apartment. The least I can do is strain the catbox. It turns out that I let it go one day too many (I usually strain it ever two or three days) because this morning Cassius woke us up by peeing on our bed. We think we've got it all cleaned up. We used OxyClean and warm water for about an hour, and blotted it up the best we could. There's no sign of yellow on the mattress, which is good. We put down a bunch of salt to soak up any remaining moisture, and Cassius is spending the day in the bathroom.

I know exactly what my parents would have done if this happened to them. Both cats would be taking their last trip to the veterinarian. I don't have that it me. Those two cats are members of our family, and no mistake is ever going to change that. I'm not even mad at the cat. I'm concerned about whether he was mad that the catbox was full or he has a bladder infection. I'm disappointed in myself for neglecting the catbox yesterday morning, and I'm sad that we decided not to let the cats in the bedroom anymore.

I'm glad my parents could teach me this. I'm just sorry that they taught it to me by putting our cats to sleep.