Posts Tagged ‘cat’

When we found out last year that our cat was sick my kids, after their initial shock and sadness, asked if we could get another pet.  They have an amazing way of turning lemons into lemonade, or at least trying.  I informed them that we would not be getting another cat.  Hubby is allergic, and has always been allergic, he just put up with it the first time around.  We wouldn’t ask him to do it again.  They already knew we would never be getting a dog.  There’s the whole allergy thing, on top of the fact that I am definitely not a dog person, so that was strike two.

They sat there looking at me with those big eyes, begging me to give them some kind of hope, something.  I caved.

Maybe a fish, I said.  Sure, yeah, I could do a fish.

We have had them in the past and other than cleaning out the bowl once a week or so, they’re really about as low-maintenance as you can get.  Okay, we could do that.

We said goodbye to our cat in July and I managed to hold off on the fish until September.  It was kind of a back to school kind of thing, together with the fact that my parents were in town so they could go with us to the pet store, the kind of thing grandparents love to do.  So we went to the store and left half an hour later with $50 worth of supplies and two little fish in two little plastic bags.

My daughter picked an orange fish, and named her Cheddar.  According to my daughter it’s very obvious that Cheddar is a girl.  I’ll have to take her word for it.



My son picked a black fish, and named him Puck.  The name became particularly fitting when, on the ride home, we got the call that he had been selected for the rep hockey team.



In the beginning I was really just hoping that they would make it through the week.  I mean you never know with these types of things; and my luck hasn’t been the greatest lately.  But, here we are a couple of months later and Cheddar and Puck are still happily swimming around in a fish bowl on a table in our living room.

When we brought them home my kids made all of the promises that kids make.  Yes Mama, I promise I’ll feed them.  Yes Mama, I promise we’ll help you clean the bowl.  This isn’t my first trip to the rodeo though and I could pretty much predict how long it would take until the novelty wore off.  So now I’m usually the one that feeds them, and I’m always the one that cleans the bowl but to be honest, I don’t mind.  In fact, I kind of like it.

I miss our cat all the time, probably even more than I thought I would.  I miss him when I open the door and he’s not there at my feet, trying to squeeze past me to get outside.  I miss him in the morning when he’s not waiting for me in the kitchen, crying for his treats.  I miss him in the evenings when he’s not curled up on the carpet in the hallway, his head tucked under his arm.

I miss him.

And there’s no way two little fish swimming circles and blowing bubbles around a blue tree in a bowl in my living room are going to make up for the fact that he’s gone.  But, in their own little way, they help.  They give me something to do every morning and every night, and I can talk to them and not have to listen to them talk back!

In their own little way, they need me and, in my own little way, I need them too.

Welcome to the family Cheddar and Puck.  We’re glad you’re here.

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We brought you home on the bus on a warm September afternoon. You stuck your paws out the little holes in the cardboard box and yelled the entire way while we debated what your name should be.

We were newly back from a trip to Mexico and had a waiter at a restaurant there named Lupe which we considered briefly for your name before settling on Tango. It seemed to fit.

I knew you would be ours the first time I saw you. You were up for adoption along with your sister. I tried as hard as I could to convince Mister to take both of you but considering his allergies, I was lucky to be getting even you.

You were technically my birthday present that year, although you arrived a few days early. We didn’t want to wait for fear that someone else would snap you up.

Mister said you weren’t allowed to sleep with us so we made you up a little bed in the spare room. That was before we knew how loud you could be. You cried all night, and most of the next, and the next and the next. That was about as long as you lasted in the spare room. You still weren’t allowed in our bedroom but we decided giving you free reign in the rest of our apartment might quiet you down a bit.

You quickly displayed a knack for climbing, toppling our 4 foot high fake house plant more times than I could count. We sucked it up and shelled out $100 on one of those scratching post towers that stretched from floor to ceiling. In the years that followed we would move that thing to three different apartments, while our friends looked on and laughed.

When we were in-between apartments you stayed with Mister’s parents, neither of whom were particularly fond of pets. They soon warmed to you though. How could they not?

You stayed inside, I was fearful that you would get lost or hurt outside in the big world. Not that you didn’t try though. You got out once when you were at Mister’s parents’ place and, apparently no longer satisfied with your 6-foot scratching post, you ran straight up the huge tree in their front yard. Not every cat can actually say they’ve been rescued by the fire department.
When we brought home baby number one we weren’t sure how you would react. You decided to deal with the change through total avoidance. Whichever room the baby was in, you were in a different one. As she grew, so did your acceptance, not so much as blinking an eye when she would grab your fur or dump your food dish. You were the king of easy-going indifference.

When we settled into our first house we were excited with the prospect of having a real Christmas tree for the first time. Learning over the past few holiday seasons that sitting in the branches among the lights and ornaments was one of your favourite places to be, we spent the extra money to get a sturdy base. It only took you two days to get the better of it, welcoming us home one evening to the site off the tree toppled in the living room, needles and shattered ornaments everywhere, a gallon of water seeping into the carpet. After we got it right-side-up and cleaned up the mess, Mister tied a rope around the tree and secured it to the side of the TV cabinet. Every time I see the nail hole in the cabinet it makes me smile.

We’ve had our ups and downs. I’ll be honest, I could have done without all of the throwing up. And the yelling. I’m not sure why you yelled, rather than meowing like other cats. I’ve decided it’s because you had much more important things to say than other cats.

And the climbing. Climbing the trees, the screen doors, the back of the couch, the curtains. I don’t know anything about your family background but if I didn’t know better I would say you were part monkey.

But those are small things, I know. And they’re part of what made you “you.” Some people think cats are dull and have no personality. They obviously never met you.

You who loved watermelon more than anything else in the whole world. You who, up until a few years ago, used to try and walk all the way around the outside of the bathtub while I had a bubble bath. Every single time you would slip and fall in the water, screeching and clawing and looking like a drowned rat. Wet was really not your best look. But no matter how many times you fell, you would always try it again the next time. You were never one to be easily discouraged. You who refused to drink water out of a dish like a regular cat and would only drink it straight from the tap, jumping right into the sink any time you heard it running.

But through it all, you were always there for us, pretty much every day for almost 14 years.

There every time we opened the door, welcoming us whether we had been gone for ten days or ten minutes.

There in the middle of the night when I was rocking one baby or the other, coming into the room to say hello, no matter what the hour.

There, dozing in a patch of sunlight, wherever it landed, moving every few minutes to ensure maximum exposure.

There on Saturday mornings scratching at the bottom of our bedroom door, kindly informing me that it was time to get up and give you your treats, even if it was only 6:30 am and even though it was the weekend.

There curled up against the wall in the hallway, just outside the kids bedroom doors. Always keeping an eye on them, ever the protective big brother, reminding everyone that it was you who was there first, you who made us into a family even before they arrived.

So tonight, when we had to say goodbye, it was my turn to be there for you. It sucked that we had to do this; I struggled with the decision for months. Honestly, I hoped you would just not wake up one day, save me from having to decide, but I see now that you needed my help. You were old, you were sick, you couldn’t do any of the things that made you who you were, so I knew it was time.

The only thing harder than letting you go was seeing you suffer. So I did this hard thing, this horrible thing that I didn’t want to do and I comforted myself with memories of you, the way you were.

Every time we cut a watermelon or open a can of tuna I will listen for the sound of your paws on the floor. When I pull out the boxes of Christmas decorations I will get a little weepy when I see the stocking with your name on it. When I put up the Christmas tree I will think of how you used to sit in the branches and when you got too old to climb, how you used to spend hours laying on the tree skirt, hidden behind the boxes. Every time I turn on the tap to brush my teeth I will expect to see you with your head under the water, having a drink.

You, the tiny little kitten in the cardboard box, yelling for the whole world to hear.

You, the best gift I ever received.

We miss you already.



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Today is our cat’s birthday. Well, it’s the day we designate as his birthday – it’s actually the anniversary of the day 13 years ago when we brought him home.

This morning I reminded the kids to wish him a happy birthday when they saw him. An hour later he slowly crept up from his sleeping spot in the basement and was met with cheers and well wishes.

Including my son who greeted him with, “Happy birthday Tango – you look so much taller today!”

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dear mr. cat

Dear Mr. Cat (all names have been withheld to protect the identities of those involved):

I hope this letter finds you doing well.  I’m glad to see you seem to be enjoying the basket of freshly folded laundry that I just put down on the dining room table, seemingly out of your reach.  Silly me.  Before I get back to re-washing the clothes that you have now shed all over, let me take a few minutes to outline a few of the areas that perhaps, if you wouldn’t mind, you could find a little time to work on going forward.

Some may wonder why I’m writing you a letter, rather than perhaps sitting down and having a heart to heart chat over a small dish of crunchy cat kibble but I think our relationship is more of a letter-writing type one.  And by that I mean the fact that you are obviously too cool to have anything to do with me so a letter is about the only way this is going to happen.  People less familiar with you, and others of your kind, may doubt that cats are smart enough to read.

But you and I know differently.

I know that you are smart enough to choose to throw up on the easy-to-clean tile in the entry way or on the hardwood floor that makes up 80% of our living space but you instead choose to run downstairs to the lightly coloured carpet in the basement when you feel the urge to purge coming.

I know that you are smart enough to drink the fresh water out of your water bowl and not the stale  water located in other parts of the house, i.e. the dish under the one remaining house plant we own (more on that later) or the run-off from the furnace humidifier.  You somehow managed to “encourage” me to only pour fresh, cold water into your bowl, hence the reason I have to keep a pitcher of water in the fridge specifically for that purpose.  You drink the water the minute it is poured, lapping it up like you have spent a week in the desert, but the second it seems to lose the “fresh out of the fridge” feeling, you’re back downstairs to your alternate water source, leaving me standing holding your special water pitcher, shaking my head.

I know that you are smart enough to learn, after 150 times of being told otherwise, that the kitchen counter is not a place for cats.  Perhaps the first 149 times you thought I was kidding but I assure you that I’m not.  Seriously.  Not kidding.  Get down.  Now.

I know you are smart enough to kill the spider that is crawling along the baseboard in the living room.  Instead you take great pleasure in freaking out, running around in circles, screaming at the top of your lungs to ensure that everyone in the house (including me, who is deathly afraid of spiders) is fully aware of the existence of said spider.  Then you’re kind enough to swat it off the wall, disabling it just enough so it can only move at 1/10th of its normal speed, dragging its injured limbs across the floor.  And then you lose interest, or perhaps reach a point of exhaustion having physically exerted yourself for all of 30 seconds, and so you return to your blanket on the couch in the basement and proceed to sleep for the next 18 hours, leaving me to deal with the remains of the spider.  Thanks for that.

I know you are smart enough to leave the house plants alone.  There is really no need for you to chew on the leaves of every living piece of greenery that we bring into this house.  If there is something lacking from your chosen diet of crunchy cat food and the odd dish of watermelon juice (I realize most cats drink milk…I also realize that you’re not “most” cats), then feel free to add it to the weekly grocery list.  Perhaps then any flowers I may receive would be safe from you.  As it goes now, if I’m lucky enough to receive flowers they have to live on top of the washing machine in the laundry room as it’s the only room I can lock you out of.  (Ironically enough it’s also the only room in the house that also has a swinging cat flap cut into the bottom of the door – my apologies, I realize the fact that you still haven’t figured out how the flap works is a bit of a sore spot).  Either way, could you maybe leave my flowers alone?  Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m hoping to be able to enjoy my flowers at other times of the day than when I’m folding underwear and socks.

I know you are smart enough to know the precise moment when the clock turns to 6:24 a.m. because that is the exact time you start screaming at me to get out of my bed and come and provide you with the requisite eight cat treats that you apparently must eat before you can start your day.  It’s quite amazing that while other cats meow, you scream – lashing out an ear-splitting noise that no person, living or dead, could possible sleep through.  I appreciate the fact that in the unlikely event that I sleep through my alarm, you will be there, sitting directly outside my bedroom door, letting loose with your symphonic screaming to ensure that I don’t oversleep.  One might think you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart.  I know better.  I know that you’re just doing it to get those aforementioned eight treats, at which point I have now served the purpose for which I was placed on this earth, you can then return to ignoring me completely.

I know you are smart enough to realize that you are not allowed to go outside.  Not at all.  I realize that you have managed to escape a few times with your Houdini-like ability to scootch between our legs in the rare event we leave the door open to chat with an unsuspecting paper boy or door-to-door salesman, but this is not a common occurrence and it would be much easier if you would just go ahead and give up on the idea.  It would really save us all a lot of difficulty (for us, as we have shout expletives and chase after you in our pajamas and slippers) and for you (as your dreams of freedom come to a quick end each time you escape, only to get distracted gnawing on blades of grass in the front lawn, making you fairly easy to catch).

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for taking a few minutes from your busy schedule of sleeping, crunching loudly on your food, screaming, running quickly through the house after you use the litter box, and throwing up, to read this letter.  I’m sure you also have a list of things that I could “improve” on and in the spirit of the give and take relationship we have, I want you to feel free to respond.  As pens were not really created to be clenched in the paws of cats, feel free to formulate a response in the huge pile of crumbs you leave beside your food dish each day, or in the cat litter you fling haphazardly and soon becomes embedded in the bottom of my feet.

Others may doubt that you’re smart enough to create a response using either of these methods.

You and I know better.

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