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The Island of Misfit Pets

6 Jul
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photo cred: tao lin on Flickr

 

I did it guys. I finally got a new cat. I know you were worried.

That’s why I sent out last week’s blog post as a silent cry for help on the wind rather than written words. Because I was preoccupied with forcing two distinct members of an incredibly territorial species to work through determining who the Alpha between them will be without losing fur or blood in the process. It’s hard work, being a cat lady. I know it looks like we just lay around with our cats all the time but that’s our reward for having spent several months to a year with no sleep while we try to bait and lure and feed our companions into coexisting in the same room with us.

As those of you who have been following along will remember, I recently lost one of the best cats to ever live. Top ten, she was. And when she passed, I got super sad and my remaining cat – a kitten – was confused and weird about it. My plan was for him to learn from her super cool ways and for him to grow up to be totally great. But she was sick and he kept running his head directly into hard objects – seemingly on purpose – so he couldn’t have remembered anything anyway.

As the weeks and months went on and Monk was left to his own concussive devices, it became clear to me that he needed more than just me in order to get by. He followed me into absolutely every room. He would wake up from a dead damn sleep because I needed to go grab a tissue or a drink, follow me sleepdrunkenly into the next room, follow me back, and lie down again. While that’s endearing and all, it can translate to moments like when I’m trying to relieve myself and he’s staring at me, directly in front of the toilet. Or when I’m trying to take a shower and he’s screaming outside it because he can’t get in and then screaming inside it because I let him and now he’s wet. These, along with a host of other adorably awful habits, have led to a sincere decline in hours of sleep, because cats are nocturnal and I’m asleep at night and he absolutely hates that.

So I got another cat.

Here she is: her name is Lil.

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Lil is her preferred name. Lily if you must. Pippalily if we’re being fancy, and sometimes we are.

I got Lil from Animal Friends after help from a few volunteers and an adoption counselor who listened to my plight and tried to help me find the right personality to put in my Monk blender. My hope was that I would find a friend to balance him out a bit and give him something that would occupy him, thereby cutting down on a slew of terrible habits we had developed. Hopefully including his tendency to charge walls with his head.

In some ways it worked. In others, it became far worse.

You never know what you’re going to get with a cat. There’s just no way to know what they’re made of until you get them home and comfortable, and that takes time. It’s then, when you’ve worked for weeks to help them achieve optimum comfort – after you’ve put cat trees all over your house, matted your clothes with their fur, tripped over and stepped on toys around every corner, and begun to let them eat your breakfast yogurt with you– that you realize you have, in fact, fallen in love with an asshole.

Sometimes they’re not assholes – they’re just broken – and I get broken ones. Ones that squawk, ones that suddenly jump up and clutch the middle of the window screen with all four paws in the dead of night.

My parents have one who wants you to spank his ass. I’m not even kidding. He loves it. I’ve spent many a visit to my parents’ when dad and I will be up late watching a movie and an action scene will be underscored by the spanking of the cat’s ass by my father while it squeals with joy.

Maybe it’s us, though, now that I think about it. Our family is like an island of misfit pets. 

Lil likes to make biscuits. That’s when they knead your skin and fat to make a bed (usually on your belly); it’s super great for your self image. I’ve only known her for about a week, and man: she loves to get pastries moving. She does it all the time, everywhere she goes. She’s obsessive. There was no way to know in the shelter.

This is only week one. Imagine what I’ll find when she gets settled in the rest of the way.

Anyway now that I have two of them again, certain Monk behaviors have already been curbed. Others have gotten significantly worse because Lil does them too. Which makes me think that my love of cats might be the largest negative contributor to my emotional and physical wellbeing. Here’s how things are shaping up on my Monk habit-ridding list, one week in:

  • Wailing at the top of his kitten lungs when he suspects I might be within a mile of the house but not inside it.
  • Suddenly and without warning breaking into a dead sprint from one end of the apartment to the other, often across my chest as I sleep – DOUBLED DOWN
  • Obsessively eating garbage that can legit kill him
  • Getting on the table, fighting the human for food – DOUBLED DOWN
  • Punching me directly in the eyeball to wake up in the morning – DOUBLED DOWN
  • Waiting until I round a corner and grabbing my legs like a razor-clawed koala
  • Staring directly into the depths of my soul while I relieve myself – DOUBLED DOWN (It’s a little like the twin moment in The Shining. And sure, I can close the door – but they yell. Loudly.)
  • Eating my hair
  • Spontaneously splatting one’s self onto the middle of the window screen and holding on with all four paws until I pull them all out

So, it’s going kind of okay? I guess? Except I’ve picked up a host of other, 2-cat-specific scenarios, such as:

  • Allowing them to be in the same room momentarily only to find Monk putting Lil in a sleeper hold within 60 seconds
  • Play fighting with me directly in the middle. If I move, they move – and start from the top
  • Yelling at the top of their lungs because they’re not in the same room; being totally asinine when they are

At the moment, for example, I’m going about my day out in the world, while I’m quite certain Monk is boring a hole through my bedroom door so he can go strangle Lil for funsies. It can take up to a year or sometimes more to get cats to play nice – and sometimes they just never do.

Wish me luck, y’all. Remember that the species I’m dealing with here is incredibly territorial. If I’m too successful, it’s possible for them to join forces and push me out altogether.

If that happens, I’ll try to grab my laptop in the frenzy so I can tell you about how it went down. 

PS – Adopt a pet. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as a punch or two to the face every morning because you’ve been missed in the past 8 hours. Really.

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Cats and KonMari

11 May

I just want you to know that after my last blog post, Monk was really lovely for about three straight days. I started to feel a little bad for publicly shaming him. Then one day I was washing my face and as I bent over to rinse, all soapy-eyed and disoriented, suddenly he launched from the back of the bathroom toilet to the back of my body. I stood up and yelped and he got so scared that he dragged his claws down my back to hang on for dear life.

So. I have to get a second cat now.

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Illustration by The Gross Uncle. Check him out on Twitter!

I can’t do this anymore. I’ve been thinking for a while that I’m starting to look older than I feel, and while a portion of that is just the reality of aging, a serious part of it is that I wake up at least 3 times that I can remember the next morning from Monk just pushing shit off of shelves and onto the floor. All night long. I can play with him, feed him, let him sleep on my face, open windows for him, let him push through all the blinds and break every single set in the house – doesn’t matter. He thrives in chaos. He wants to watch the world burn.

I feel bad for whichever future cat has to put up with him. I’m just hoping it helps him chill out. Probably best if it’s a really fat one with a strong batting arm. And maybe an unnerving stare. It’ll be super weird and change the vibe of my apartment, but I’ll probably be able to do something about these bags under my eyes.

Partially because of Monk’s inability to allow things to be on open, horizontal surfaces, and partially because I recently read Spark Joy: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve developed a sort of obsessive habit of organization and systemization in my house.

One would think that with all my office jobs, I would have employed approaches to organization in my own home, but it really hasn’t worked that way for me. You might recall this from my frequent posts about the disgusting filth that is my apartment. If you need to get caught up, I think this shining diamond where I admit to hanging fly tape around my apartment and lived in filth until two flies mated on me will do the trick.

Apparently that’s the final straw for me: flies fornicating and turning my limbs into their love den.

Anyway I read this book on the life changing magic of cleaning up your crap, and it really flipped a switch for me. And like anything good in my life, I’ll just way overdo it until it’s actually kind of harmful.

If you’re not familiar, Spark Joy is a book about the KonMari method. You might be familiar with some jokes about it. They boil down the KonMari philosophy to hugging all of your possessions to feel whether or not they bring you joy and then ditching them if they don’t. It’s quite a bit more complex than that, but I have to admit: she does tell you to hug things. I skipped that part. I can get a sense of my level of joy from just looking at something. It comes along with my knack for being distant and judgy.

The more complex elements of the book involve proper use of containers, assigning everything a place, and giving everything you own enough room to breathe. Clutter is actively sought out and destroyed. Boxes begin to form systems that then run the regular functions of your life almost automatically.

This might not be true for everyone, but it’s true for me.

I took a note from the KonMari method that I needed to arrange my life in a way that best suited the things I do every day. Why, oh why do I get my makeup out of the bag every day, use it, and put it back in the bag? I should just keep it out and find a way to  present it so that looks all right while it’s out so and I won’t feel like the place is a mess. Also: why do I put the things I often need in hard-to-reach, ridiculous places? Why do I let a cupboard in my house be continually overflowing so that every time I open the door I get upset?

Of course, this sort of life-changing magic is what I probably need on my quest for super humanism, so I’ve basically gone section by section through my house and eliminated these occurrences. I know where almost everything is, I have implemented quick and easy systems, and my whole apartment is almost entirely customized to me.  

I think it’s beginning to be a problem.

I have a lot of systems now, and I really don’t like things to be out in the open. If I have clutter in an area because I’m working on a project, the materials all need to be in a basket or a bowl. All the cheese in my fridge goes in its own basket. Things I have to do are organized by section and type. I now have a To Do List template that breaks up my to-dos into correspondences, errands, tasks, and notes. Yesterday I asked our graphic designer at work if she could make me a desktop screen for my computer that was separated into labeled sections for my desktop icons to be visually filed.

I started to really wonder if I was having an issue when I insisted that my dirty silverware sit in a bowl in the sink because the look of them scattered all over the bottom of the sink made me kind of crazy.

At least I’m not hugging them all?

Admittedly, I think things are getting a bit out of hand. I was meal prepping for the week (putting lunches together for work) and decided to overhaul my kitchen cupboard with boxes for each type of lunch item: grains, bars, spreads…I just think it’s gone too far.

Of course I can’t just go back to letting things go; I have a monster cat on the prowl and if I leave my craft supplies out mid-project he will knock them to the ground. I can’t leave a ponytail holder out without him putting it in his teeth and carrying it to a hidden nest he’s made somewhere in the underbelly of my living room couch (THAT’S WHERE THEY ALL GO).  He has some strange obsession with seltzer water that means I can’t even put my drink on a table and walk way. If I do, he’ll knock the entire thing over and act like it was that way when he found it. Like I said: he just wants to watch the world burn.

So I guess I need to start searching the cat adoption sites again. Actually, a cat café just opened up near me (this is real. This is not a test). It’s a place where you can get coffee and hang out on the bottom floor or go play with adoptable cats on the second floor. Maybe I’ll just go take a look real quick – you know, just to see what’s there.

If I find a 20 pound one with a real mean stare, I’ve got a winner. 

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Illustration by The Gross Uncle. Check him out on Twitter!

My Cat is the Spawn of Satan

1 May

I need to book an exorcism for my cat.

No, not my beloved Lola. This is a new one.

Unfortunately, my near and dear Lola Bear recently got very ill and slowly passed away. It hurt so very badly and my parents tried to help make it better by bringing me a seemingly innocent-looking spawn of Satan to help with the pain. Meet the hellchild with which they’ve cursed my life:

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Now, I know that your first impression of Monk (The Monkfish, Monkey, Monk) might be to trust him. Or to assume his innocence. It’s okay, I understand: he does look so cute that you just want to squeeze all the life juice out of him – but it’s just a tool to lure you in so that he can badger-jab you in the face.

As Monk grew up, I tried to remember that things he does as a tiny kitten may be charming, but when he does them as a cat, they will hurt. So I tried to remain vigilant in his training: no table tops, no eating out of the garbage or from my leftover food, no flying from all dimensions of space toward my head, etc. Basically, the things I never had to worry about with Lola – but I was at least twelve years out of practice in my cat training, and honestly guys I don’t think I did a very good job. Because though I did try to back off the number of times I would let him play with my hands instead of a toy, I did also simultaneously encourage regular Ninja Training Courses with Dave.

Dave is a forest child and in his heart, he can speak to animals. (He frequently scolds me for talking down to cats or talking about them where they can hear me.) Because of this hypersensitivity, when it comes to animal training, Dave’s skills really shine and I wanted Monk to benefit from it. And has he.

Monk can do flips in the air, scale the most difficult of mountains (fire places), and is generally a badass. He can lurk in the tiniest of corner spaces, hunt down even the best hidden cat toy, and keep up with a laser pointer with no sweat. When he was little, these skills were pretty darn exciting. Now that he’s older, they’re terrifying.

Three separate times during this post, I looked at him and thought: what a cute kitty! and pet him. And then he full-body hooked around my arm and rabbit kicked the bejeezus out of me. Three separate times.

Oh, and he’s bigger now:

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He’s up there at the top. See him? And yeah, I know – he still looks pretty cute. But then ask yourself: …how did he even get up there? I do love this cat, but he is no Lola. He was born straight from Satan’s fire.  How did he get up there, you ask? With the power of Lucifer.

Now, I understand that lots of cats are assholes and that’s just the way it is. But you have to believe me: this is something unnatural. The list of grievances is quite large, and means that when someone is catsitting for me, I have to prepare ample notes in advance. They include:

  • Sometimes he’ll climb up your legs or back and begin to eat your hair
  • Sometimes he’ll hop on your face in bed and…eat your hair.
  • He is a master ninja and it won’t take long for him to learn how to dart out your door the moment it opens. Be prepared with some sort of Monkblocker when you enter. 
  • He’ll frequently weave in and out of your legs as you walk. Stopping and letting him go first won’t make a difference – he walks when you walk. You’re going to hit him in the face; it’s okay – it’s just a fact.
  • He doesn’t like to be left out, so he meows when you close a door on him. Even the bathroom.
  • If you don’t play with him enough during the day, he’ll be batshit crazy while you try to sleep. 
  • He eats plants and climbs on things and does every other imaginable terrible cat thing.
  • He’ll attack your hands if you let him.
  • He love, love, loves a good laser pointer session. Be careful – he’ll run directly into things if you let him. He already suffers from a few minor concussions.
  • He’s obsessed with seltzer water. If you leave a container of unfinished seltzer water out, he will immediately come knock it over. Please don’t leave it unattended.

It goes on. Just like this. For a long time.

Now, I have read at least the first forty available articles on what to do about a hypercrazy cat, but they haven’t worked. I’ve talked to the vet, who suggested scaring the bejeezus out of him when he’s doing something wrong by crashing something loud near him (Monk couldn’t care less). I’ve played directly before dinner (nope), played at least two hours a day (nope), moved eating times around (nope), ignored him (nope), paid too much attention to him (nope), yelled at him (nope), took things away from him (nope), moved my entire apartment around to accommodate for him (nope)– I’m simply out of ideas. I think he’s possessed.

I’ve been cranking down my social calendar in the hopes that spending even more time with him will help his issues. So I’m officially moving into a deeply unhealthy relationship. I’ve thought about getting another cat to help him cope with whatever his internal struggle is, but I’m worried he’ll take it out on me that I show affection for another. Or worse: that the demon in him will move from being to being, and I will double the horror of my plight. So there may be only one option left: an exorcism.

I think I read somewhere in those forty articles I googled that it takes a level 35 cat lady mage to conduct a proper exorcism – but that’s a pretty high level cat lady and no doubt the path I must go on to seek her out is dark and full of terrors. Still – this is no way to live and I have no real choice. I must go into the unknown – to trace the untraceable. 

Wish me luck. 

cat lady

 

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