Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cat Story

Two of the kittens are now in their new homes, two are pending (could go either way) and two have not even had even one inquiry about them. Basically, the four most affectionate kits have been the most popular, while the two ordinary orange shorthair males who have other things to do besides sitting on laps are the least. The way things are going, it looks like we will be left with Rebel Fredo. Vito, the other shorthair male, is very handsome and dignified in character and Fredo, well, his tail is ravaged by the ringworm still--he's got ugly hairless patches on it giving him a sort of pathetic look. And his biting...it has gotten better but he still has an aggressive temperament. We are hoping that the late bloomer will have other things going for him other than looks and dignity.

Carly has lost her sweet disposition and simply does not want to be bothered. She spent three months raising kittens and one month recuperating from being spayed while in heat and weaning so she is worn out. She has returned to her favorite basket by my desk again, where she goes to be near me as I surf the internet to be my companion and let my tap tap tapping of the computer keys lull her to sleep. However, the kittens hover around her, never giving her a moment's peace. It makes her grumpy because darn it, those babies do not listen. I miss the old Carmelita but it looks like I lost her when I didn't get her spayed in time. Fredo would not be the type of cat, even after neutering, that would be a computer buddy willing to put up with Bob Dylan on Youtube like his mom does.

I have been really attached to each of the kittens... today it was really sad to see Crema leave. The princess found herself a new domain to rule with dogs, other cats and kids as her loyal subjects. She will be the center of attention for a quite a long while. Carly doesn't seem to know that she's left yet. The pairing down of young felines in the household has been slow and subtle. They are actually leaving at older ages than most kittens, but I think that is why they are such great cats. Carly does not miss them. She has done her job.

Gina, black shorthair female, will meet a potential owner on Tuesday morning who liked everything I told her over the phone when she answered a flyer we posted at the grocery store a few days ago. She is looking for a friend for her older and lonely cat and Gina seems to fit the requirement of a playful but submissive personality. She is very well adjusted and balanced. Sonny, the longhair orange male, has already met the young couple who want him and they will call us back tomorrow as soon as they hear from the vet about the ramifications of ringworm on the other pets they have. They offered to put a down payment on him so we would keep him for them, but we said it wasn't neccessary. His cuddly and clownish ways won them over in a hurry.

Our vet gave us good advice on what to put on the flyers and where to put them. We were up front about the kittens having special needs and we priced them at least twenty bucks, but took whatever someone could afford. Gina, Sonny and Crema together may offset a bit of the costs of their care. Batman was a gift. His new family are appreciative of the costs we have paid making sure he was healthy and happy.

Over and over, we have been told that our kittens are amazing and that it is obvious that they are well cared for. It is rare these days to see kittens in such good condition, a lot of animal lovers have told us. Most of them are taken to shelters and have suffered a lot by the time they get there. Honestly, Dennis and I talked about this option a lot. And honestly, we were frustrated by the constant damage and disorder the kits inflicted often on our home. I joked that it felt like we were invaded by the creatures from the Gremlins movie--you look up and see six of them going in six different ways to get into trouble. I have been a cat wrangler, and I have the scratches on my arms to prove it. And for the record, the most heated argument Dennis and I ever have had in our lives has been over the cats. I'm not afraid to say it. And I confess also a bitter attitude towards Carmelita about her permissiveness in parenting, but what did I expect from an underage mother with piracy in her blood? But still, Carly, couldn't you at least take up some of the slack in kitten patrol?

Has it been worth it? I ask myself. I would never allow this to happen again, that's for sure. It hasn't been fair to Carly who depended on me to keep her out of messes like this. She certainly can't march herself down to the animal hospital and demand to be fixed. So, in the scope of it all, I am now a zealous bonafide member of the promotion for surgical birth control of pets club. Sometimes repentence from sin means paying some consequences for the sin of inaction. And that is why I stuck to my guns on this journey, which for the most part seems insane to a lot of people. And I appreciate my husband who ended up in this venture without wanting to, helping with litter box patrol several times a day, feeding, vet clinic runs and generally making the kittens feel at home even when they were nuisances. Which is something all of you contemplating marriage should consider-- that when one of you gets into trouble, all of you are in trouble. He did it for me because he knows I'll be there for him.

The people taking in our cats understand our predicament, I think, deeply. Taking the little critters to the shelter means certain death. Turning them into permanent outdoor cats means proliferation of diseases like rabies and being ravaged by tougher and wilder feline cousins, if not becoming fodder for bigger and hungrier animals. Giving them away for free would mean uncertain future care by those who do not spend the money on "dime a dozen" worthless cats. And drowning them in a bucket of water, like the old days, would mean instant depression for me. I could never live with myself in allowing such a thing to happen, as well as abandoning them out in fields, as I've seen some people rationalize as a more humane way to get rid of them.

On the other hand, people all over the world are suffering terrible sufferings. In that big picture of wars, starvation, disease, neglect and abuse, would the death of six unwanted kittens be all that bad if we took them to the shelter? They are kittens after all. When they got ringworm, it ravaged their faces, making them look like zombie kittens. Who would want those? We despaired for awhile, the shelter seemed like the only way. Our vets sensed this, I think, when we brought them in for treatment. They kept encouraging us that these were worth it, we were doing a good job and that they were wonderful little beings despite looking like they were born in a crypt.

In the big picture scenario, of course, human life is precious and definately more valuable than kittens. And animals are just animals. Of all domesticated animals in this country, cats are so dispensible. So it is hard to explain why we've done what we've done, other than my culpability for Carly's pregnancy. It cost more than we thought, but after plunking the money down for the first round of shots, it was hard to stop even when it was for when they had a literal case of the uglies.

The closest explanation I can say is that when we are faithful with little, we would be entrusted with much (if it sounds familiar, Jesus said it). Because I blew it with one little thing, it turned into six little things. So, yes, guilt. But also, I know in my heart, how people treat an animal often indicates how they treat human beings. So ultimately, my commitment to the kittens' welfare was also a way of practicing to be more committed to people. Dennis and I were going to allow these hard choices help us become better human beings willing to pay the costs of relationships with other humans. We will not take an easier route.

And so for that reason, Ugly Freddy will always have a home with me.

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