Thursday, July 10, 2014
Confession #1: How I Became a Cat Lady
At least, not until I was well into my 70s or 80s.
But I'm definitely not crazy. Not yet.
Some people think four cats is a lot. But it's not. It's technically not even 'several' or 'many.' If you had four cookies would you say, "I have many cookies" or "I have several cookies"? No, you would say, "I have a few cookies." (Personally, I would probably say, "I don't have ENOUGH cookies.")
See, here are the evidenciary number-to-descriptor standards:
1 = one
2 = a couple
3-4 = a few
5-6 = several
7-8 = many
9-10 = a lot
11+ = many a lots
(Source: Because I Said So)
I'm BARELY even a cat lady. I'm entry-level. Some real cat lady is probably reading this, saying, "Dahling, please....four cats and already calling yourself a Cat Lady? The presumption!"
Anyway, like I said, I never meant to become a cat lady at the tender age of *cough,cough*.
It is a wild tale of coercion, daring rescues, a desperate stow away, and sheer acquisitiveness.
Severus Comes Home
Two years ago, almost to the day, I was simply a lady with a dog. I was living in my sister's basement while I was waiting to close on my first house. One day my sister, Lara, came downstairs. This is how I remember it:
"Mandy! Carl said I can get a kitten! You HAVE to get one, too. Or I'll break all your fingers and toes and then you can never be a famous piano-playing ballerina. As has been your dearest wish since childhood. Get in the car and get a kitten with me, NOW!" So, of course I had to. Right?
Now, if you ask my sister, she'll probably tell you it happened like this:
Lara: "Mandy! Carl said I can get a kitten! You should get one, too!"
Me: "Yeah, I should!"
So I did.
Regardless of which story you choose to believe, the end result was that we both got kittens. Brothers, in fact. And being equally obsessed with Harry Potter, my sister named her ginger cat Ronald Weasley, and I named my black cat, Severus Snape. I momentarily toyed with "Sirius Black" but discarded it as too trite. Plus, even as a kitten, Severus demonstrated an uncannily Snape-ish cat sneer.
A couple months after Charlie, Severus, and I moved into our spacious new home, I made one fateful decision, uncovered a despicable aspect of humanity, and came face-to-face with some self-truths:
1) I joined the community's Facebook pet page
2) Many people in my very rural, and therefore transient, community (not many could stand the commute to civilization for very long) tended abandon pets rather than take them along or try to find them new homes.
3) I have a bleeding heart, a talent for rationalizing, and a debilitating weakness for kittens.
It was Fall Break and I was spending a delightfully lazy day curled up with Charlie and Severus, reading, watching t.v., and updating my Facebook Status to let the world know I was having a delightfully lazy day curled up with Charlie and Severus, reading and watching t.v. I decided to check out the pet page. I was scrolling through when I came upon a plea for help......and a picture of THE most beautiful kitten I had ever seen.
This lady said a stray kitten had been hanging around their house (one of the first completed homes in a new subdivision under construction). She had taken it in for a couple of days, but couldn't keep it. If no one responded by 3pm, the kitten was going to the pound when she went to run her errands. It was nearly 2:45pm. I looked at Charlie and Severus and said, "I am going to save that cat." They answered by continuing to sleep. I messaged the lady to text me her address and I would be there right away.
I jumped out of bed, threw my hair into a bun, shoved my feet into my slippers, grabbed my keys and the cat carrier and went out the door. By the time I had pulled out of the garage, the lady had texted me directions and I was on my way. I showed up at her door just before 3pm and more or less snatched the cat from her and drove away. The whole way back I rationalized my rashness. There's plenty of room, my house is 24-freakin-hundred square feet. Two cats are just as easy as one. Severus can have a playmate. Everybody needs a gray tabby...
Of course, when it came to naming her, it was a no-brainer. Gray tabby? M on her forehead? So, I introduced Charlie and Severus to their new roommate, Professor Minerva McGonagall.
Myrtle's story is, by far, the strangest of tales. It's a Christmas story, too.
December 2012 was one of the most frigid winters I can remember. It was a couple days before Christmas, and I found myself at the InstaCare, horrifically sick. As in, blisters in the back of my throat, both ears infected, and the rest of my body was one giant ache. It was bad. All I could do was stare miserably at the doctor as he wrote out several prescriptions. Then he hugged me and called me Boo. Yes, that happened. He was a cute, little old doctor.
I pulled into the garage 30-minutes later, having skidded and slid my way home on the snowy, icy roads. Then I took my drugs and sacked out. I'm not sure how much later it was when something woke me up. I remember staring blearily up at the ceiling for a few minutes. Then I heard it. Meowing. I looked at Severus. He was nestled against my back, still sleeping. I sat up, listening closely for a few more minutes. Nothing. So, I went back to sleep. I was so sick, and so full of drugs, that I pretty much slept through the rest of the day and night. A few times I thought I heard meowing again, but figured it was a neighbor's cat, and went back to sleep each time.
By the next day, the drugs had kicked in and I was feeling much better and more alert. I was able to sit up and watch t.v. and read for a couple of hours at a time. And I kept hearing a cat meow. My ears were still pretty bad and all sounds were muffled, so I had a hard time telling which direction the meowing was coming from, but I figured it HAD to be the neighbor's cat. And I started thinking, Why don't they let it in?! It's freezing out there! Jerkwads! I decided that if they weren't going to let their cat in, I would bring it in to my house and keep it in the bathroom so it could get warm. So, I peeked out my window to see if it was at their front door. Nope. Then, I went out back, pretending to let Charlie out to pee, and checked their back door. Still no cat. Hmmm...
The rest of the day and evening, I continued to hear the poor kitty, and I shot dirty looks and self-righteous animal rights thoughts toward the neighbors.
On Christmas Eve day, I woke up feeling almost normal and my hearing significantly improved. Almost immediately, I started hearing cat meows again. More like banshee yowls, to be precise. And now I could tell that those yowls were coming from..............my house.
But I still couldn't pinpoint exactly where. The cat would yowl, a long, mournful wail, and then go silent for a while. I looked everywhere in the house. Running here and there each time the yowling began, I became certain I had a cat in the walls or maybe the attic crawl space. I thought, Good heavens, I'm going to have to put a freakin' hole in a wall to pull out this freakin' cat! I actually went around with a broomstick, first bumping the attic crawl space, then tapping walls and putting my ear up against them to listen for the slightest sound. Nothing. At this point, I was now pretty sure the drugs had scrambled my brains and I was having audio hallucinations or my house was haunted by a cat. A very loud cat.
Just when I was about to call someone to come over and see if they could hear this phantom cat, I happened to be walking past my garage door (you have to go through the kitchen to get to the garage) when the yowling began again. It was most definitely coming from the garage. But I had checked the garage, twice. I opened the door and started looking around again. There wasn't much to look at. My car, a couple of shovels, a rake, a couple bags of potting soil, a roll of carpet remnants, and a grill. That was it. NOWHERE for a cat to hide. Now I was seriously perplexed. Throughout the rest of the day, every time I'd hear the yowling, I'd rush over and yank the door open, but I never saw any movement. So, guess how I spent my Christmas Eve?
I propped open the door, placed a can of tuna in the center of the garage, turned on some Christmas music, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat on my kitchen floor to stake out the garage. Nothing happened for about twenty minutes. Suddenly, there was a quick movement under the car and I saw a yellow flash of glowing eyes. I held my breath and tried to stay as still as possible. Then I saw a nose poke out of the shadows, then a head, then the rest of her was out. And then I did something stupid. I yelled, "You're really real!!!" And she disappeared again. But now that I knew I wasn't stark-raving mad, I shut the door and left her to her tuna. It took me until Christmas night to catch her and finally figure out why I hadn't been able to see her whenever I searched the garage. AND how she got into the garage in the first place.
Flashback to the InstaCare: FYI, there are horse stables just behind the building. With stable cats. Freezing cold day, nice warm engine...
My car: Just behind the engine block there's a small platform. Apparently large enough for a small, determined cat to ride through 12 miles of snowy, icy roads. How she stayed on, heaven only knows.
Given the circumstances, it was only appropriate that she be named Moaning Myrtle.
Don't worry. This one's short. This is where the sheer acquisitiveness comes in.
It had been several months since I had acquired my last feline companion. I figured, three cats in about as many months. That's a little excessive. People must be thinking I'm starting to turn into one of those "crazy cat ladies." Yeah, no more cats. Three is plenty.
And then, in July, I was scrolling through that dangerous Facebook pet page. And another lady was asking for help. Someone to give a little kitten that had been abandoned on her doorstep a home. I looked at the picture and thought,
Everybody needs a ginger cat....