Monday, June 21, 2010

life, the universe... cats

some of you may not know it, but i have three cats. well, 'we' have three cats. they're not all mine; i can share. especially since i can't clean the litter boxes because of my asthma. which is almost non-existent now - EXCEPT when i'm in the room while the litter boxes are being cleaned.

i also don't usually clean up cat vomit. if i wanted to clean spit up or vomit, i'd have a kid.

anyway, we have three cats. the oldest is taylor/hot rod/ghengis cat depending who you ask. he belongs to us all - myself, my mom, my brother, and now my awesome husband. but i really think he's mine. we have no idea where he came from - the story i got from my stepdad was the cat at the bar he frequented had kittens. when we first got him, he was a teeny thing, all grey stripes and no tail (that's right - no tail). we also had a german shepherd whom we did not know how would react to the cat (dessert?). so for the first few weeks we had him, taylor was confined to my room: litter box, toys, food and water dishes. all of it. and he would squint at me and mew, rubbing on my face and purring like a tractor. he'd sleep with me every night, laid out across my neck with his little grey nose tucked behind my earlobe. no joke. we were bff.

the first time taylor met our german shepherd, he took a swipe at the 75+ pound dog and showed him who was boss: taylor. then my stepdad proceeded to make taylor an outside cat (which i don't approve of personally) and taylor was king of the neighborhood: terrorizing rodents, killing mockingbirds, and bullying the english bulldog who lived a block over. he was awesome. at his prime fighting weight, he was about 10 pounds, and had been known to fight and kill harbor rats his size. mysterious puncture wounds - small raccoon or large squirrel? - would prompt last minute vet visits. three year rabies vaccinations would be renewed every two. and when he was moved to a new home in lindenhurst, the neighbors suddenly stopped seeing mice.

that all was a long time ago. taylor is now 15, he'll be 16 this september. he weighs somewhere around 8 or 9 pounds, and is in kidney failure. he seems to have lost a bit of his sight, and appears to be almost completely deaf. you can walk right up behind him, and he has no idea. the other cats sneak past him and startle him. i'm constantly yelling at my awesome husband and my mom not to scare him - i'm terrified that he might have some kind of kitty heart attack. he still purrs like a tractor, though.

then we have piglet. she's my baby - i rescued her from babylon town shelter and picked her up on my 25th birthday. she'll be 6 this september. piglet, her sister, and her mother were removed from a home where the owner only fed them popcorn. she was about 6 months old and 6 pounds when we brought her home. she's a dilute calico with pretty green eyes. she was not used to being held when we got her, and she still doesn't do well with it after all this time. right after she was spayed, she developed pneumonia (which i still blame on north shore animal league - i brought them a healthy, purring, happy rescued kitten, and got back a sick to the point of almost dying kitten. i should have paid the extra $100 to have the surgery done by my vet. lesson learned.). thankfully, i convinced north shore to treat her at no cost.

piglet was in the hospital for a week, in an oxygen tent. i remember thinking that it was lucky we'd only had her a couple of weeks, if i was going to lose her already - at least i wasn't too attached yet. thankfully, she pulled through, but not without lasting issues. she has chronic eye issues (mostly weeping, but some swelling from time to time) that her vet attributes to feline herpes, which is actually common in shelter cats. sadly, it's passed between cats who share dishes, litter boxes, and sleeping areas so it's almost certain that the other cats in our household have herpes as well. piglet is the only one with symptoms, though. we're currently treating her with l-lysine, which can help suppress the symptoms associated with feline herpes. i've found a formula that is mixed with a milk protein. it's like a thin peanut butter consistency, and she seems to like it. i've never been able to get her to actually take the l-lysine before, so we're all hoping that this helps with her herpes symptoms.

even after all this time, piglet is very skittish and often jumps at the slightest noise. she and taylor don't really get along, although piglet and samantha will cuddle all the time and clean each other. we still can't carry piglet or hold her for long periods of time, and she won't eat anything, really, aside from cat food. she doesn't like milk, butter, whipped cream, ice cream, chicken, steak, eggs, fish, pretzels, french fries, doritos, or any of the other human food that our other cats will eat. but she makes THE BEST cat noises - piglet has a ridiculous purr that you can hear across the room, and she purrs all the time! she chirps, too, i don't know how else to explain it. she makes this great little 'chirrrup' purry noise with her mouth closed - i've never, ever heard another cat do it. she doesn't cuddle or really sit on your lap, but she'll lie down next to you and touch you with just her paw, or stretch out a leg on yours: for piglet, that's cuddling.

and that brings us to samantha. i got her when we first moved to florida, in july 2006. she has never seen a shelter - her mother was rescued three days before giving birth. samantha has thankfully never gone wanting and doesn't know what it's like to be abandoned or unloved or mistreated. we got her at four months old, about four pounds of white fluff with a spikey tail who owned our place the second she jumped out of the crate. her and piglet did not get along from go - it took about a month for piglet to warm up to samantha and let sammy clean her. samantha was very subservient to piglet, and i think looked at piggy like another mom. samantha was not without her problems, though. early on, she had an upper respiratory infection that i took her to a new vet for. big mistake. long story short, i did not succeed in having the doctor's license revoked, but it does not take five adult vet techs to take blood from one four pound cat. they should not have continued trying for 45 minutes like they did, stressing sammy out - and stressing me out, since i could hear her crying but not see her. they should have given her back to me immediately when i asked, and not 'explained to me how vets work'. my baby sammy should not have been crying every time i tried to pick her up for the next 10 days because she was so bruised and sore. never take your pets to banfield unless the doctor comes highly recommended. i fucking hate them.

anyhoo, i found a COMPETENT vet who IS NOT an asshole, and we discovered that samantha has little to no sense of smell. we determined this by watching her try to drink bleach, lick the burning end of a cigarette, not flinch when we let gas from a lighter by ner nose, and other amusing antics. she also cannot find food under her face unless she sees it first - if you have a dog or cat, you know what i mean. they usually smell food and just eat it - they don't need to see it and then find it with their mouth to eat it. samantha does. other than that, she's pretty normal. crazy, but normal. she is cheap with her purrs and does not give them out freely, but when sammy turns it on her little belly rumbles and i love how it feels. she'll sit on my shoulder, and i can rest my ear on her belly. i also like listening to her breathe: even though she can't really smell, she tries and makes the best snuffling noises. when you call to her, she mews at you, jumps down from whatever she's sitting on, stretches, and then falls over, looking up at you. she routinely does this when you've just walked in the door carrying something - i think she's trying to trip me. samantha is part oriental shorthair - a notoriously talkative cat (not as bad as a siamese, but she's super vocal) and even after almost four years, i'm still learning to listen to her. sammy's not much of a kitten anymore - she's an adult cat now - but she's still my sammy baby.

i know that i get mad at my cats. when it's 5am and taylor is shouting at the door to be let out onto the patio. when samatha gets her claws stuck in the curtain and bites at me when i try to set her free. when piglet is sneaking up on taylor. but even just writing this makes me realize how blessed i am to have three amazing felines in my life. they bring me so much joy, and they love me as much as i love them. and i know it, when taylor sees me and shows me his belly so that i can rub it, or when samantha leaps into my lap while i'm trying to work, or when piglet cautiously climbs onto my lap and starts kneading my thigh. they're not perfect - but none of us are. and anyone who says that 'they're just animals' or that pets don't have souls or human-like emotions should come spend a day with my cats. and then you'll understand why they are not pets - they are family. and why i'm enough of a bitch that i can't even think about the fact that taylor is almost 16, and that he's sick, and that one day he won't be here anymore. why i'm tearing up right now, just thinking about it.

if you have a cat, then you'll know what i mean.

now i'm going to go grab my kittehs and cuddle down for the night.

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