Sunday, April 22, 2012

A rock, a hard place

My friend, the kitten, knows something is up. She has been on my lap or by my side now for hours. When we got home last night, she crawled onto my lap three separate times, purring madly. Now, she is curled beside the computer, staying near. First, she walked up to me and said, "Mow?" 

I looked down. 

"Mow?" she asked again.

"You want to get up?"


Up she hopped, to splay herself along the line of my legs. To hook her claw in my pants to stop herself sliding off onto her head. To slide, plonk, onto the floor. And up again, to sit beside my little laptop, in the gentle morning, to lick herself quietly close by.

She knows, I think. Or senses a shift in the air, in the energy, in the way we look at her, in the feeling here.

In the last month, this kitten (who is really a cat, but will always be a kitten to us) has peed on so many things we have lost count. She has battled for territory and dominance with our other cat since the moment she arrived, a year ago. There have been wee issues since the beginning, but I thought they'd mostly settled down. A wee here, a wee there, really, what's a wee amongst friends? But since we went to homeschool camp, the surprise pee attacks have intensified (now that's a sentence you don't read every day). Bathmats, books, shopping bags, toys, carpet, even the couch. Yuck.

And in the six days since my husband left for overseas—the days I needed to keep Simple—things have gone from bad to Busted. One swim bag and jacket have been wrecked, one bookcase is wrecked and now outside, and the carpet is wrecked and has to be replaced immediately.

Ah. This is when you breathe. And finally kind of break, too, because we've been dealing with this since day one. But the idea of giving up something your girl loves to distraction has been impossible, so we've lived with the fighting and the craziness and the wee, and we've cleaned up and tried to find ways to make it stop. But it hasn't stopped, and now I'm breathing and breaking, both.

And with a husband not here to help carry the Hard, you find yourself mopping, scrubbing, washing, with tears drifting down your face. You're not sobbing or angry, you're just…leaking.

The RSPCA won't rehouse her. With her history, they said, she would be euthanised. I've put out a call to friends, but who wants a cat who might pee all over their life? My sister has suggested the Cat Protection Society. They have a no-kill policy and work to find homes for all cats given into their care. I'm calling them on Monday.

In the meantime, my son has taken to sighing deeply. My daughter alternates between being strong and face-tremblingly-sad at the thought of saying goodbye. She loves this little cat deeper than I've known anyone to love an animal. This cat with the personality of a storm, delighting and distracting us, this little creature who has made us laugh almost every day, who has curled into our hearts and stuck.

These days are hard. And the kitten, now back on my lap, is lying with her belly turned up a little. Just in case someone might lean forward, in this moment, and kiss her.

(And yep, we've got two wee boxes. We've tried having the cats outside for a very short time, at the cost to the native bird and lizards who didn't make it out alive. We separate the cats fairly often, but can't keep the doors shut all the time. It's not a urinary tract infection. It's deliberate pee sabotage by a stressed out cat. If I lived always primed for a fight, and couldn't claim a piece of space that was all my own, and was fairly simple minded, I think I'd pee on the couch too.  Just saying.)


  1. Helena, have you thought of an outdoor enclosure? They can be quite commodious with lots of climbing and playthings inside- you can even build them over existing bits of garden so the cat can have real dirt and safe bushes to climb. I've also seen them built onto the house so that they are directly accessible by the back door and the cat wouldn't feel totally excluded from family life.
    It's a tough one. Hugs.

  2. Awww. Poor kitty. I'm thinking she might do better in a home where she's the only pet? I don't know. I've never had a cat, but perhaps she needs a home where she doesn't think she needs to compete. I hope she finds a good home - maybe with someone you know so you can visit. :)

  3. What with your blog with that wonderful song and tribute to your husband (I used to sing it all the time when it was still on the charts -- mostly the chorus because I don't have your facility to sing whole songs with all the words!) and certainly on beaches and whenever I just wanted to say "here I am"....and then 10,000 years - how you contained yourself in front of that so-called specialist.... and now this blog about the beautiful kitten/cat, I am sitting here just imagining you three trying to work out what to do and coming to a consensus. You are wonderful.

  4. Oh Helena I am so sorry. Sorry for your sweet girl mainly. Sorry you have to decide something like this without your hubby. Poor kitty, poor all of you. Sending you warm thoughts and prayers. Let me know how it works out. HUGS

  5. I'm sorry, Helena. I know those things are so hard.

    My husband and I got a kitten when we bought our first house and it was just the two of us. That cat was my buddy, he followed me around and kept me company, slept on my lap while we watched television, and slept right on top of my belly when I got pregnant. He was jealous of the kids, but we thought he would adjust. After a couple of years of the cat taking half-hearted swats at the kids when they walked by, he finally graduated to full-on scratching and biting.

    And at that point, he went back to the pound. It was very hard. And it sounds heartless to say, but our quality of life improved without him hiding around every corner and drawing blood from every ankle that happened by.

    Good luck.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.