Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Cat Conundrum

Sometimes, there are issues that can divide a society cleanly in two.  Crunchy vs. Smooth Peanut Butter(Crunchy), Ginger vs. Mary Ann(Mary Ann), Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady(Brady) are a few examples.  Another big example is Cat vs. Dog.  I have always come down firmly on the cat side of the issue.  It's not that I don't like dogs, or appreciate their faithfulness...I'm just lazy...and typically dogs are a lot of work...ESPECIALLY properly raising a puppy to be a well-trained and properly behaving dog.  My dad and some of my friends have very well behaved dogs...and I greatly enjoy visiting them and getting to spend time with their dogs.  I enjoy it just as much when I get to drive home and not have to take care of those dogs.  It's kind of the same way I feel about my friends babies now that my own kids are getting older and can wipe their own butts. 

Cats on the other hand, with their independent aloofness, are my cup of tea.  I feed a cat, clean it's litterbox, and occasionally I will hop on you lap asking to be petted.  If it's a kitten, it might put on a random display of cuteness playing with some string. 

It's entirely possible that the end is what has turned me off of dogs.  Growing up we had twice tried raising dogs.  The first one was a beautiful collie we called Goldie.  As pretty and as smart as Lassie.  Quite possibly the worlds perfect dog.  One day I was opening the side fence to get into our backyard, and he snuck out around me.  Making a break for it, he ran in front of a car and was killed.  I think I was about 7 or 8 at the time, and it crushed me.  A year or two later we got another dog from a friend of my dad.  It was one of the most poorly behaved animals I have known, and lasted only a few months with us before it tore all the linoleum up in the bathroom, and my dad moved it on to another home. 

Maybe because cats are not as loving and faithful as dogs, when those relationships are over, it didn't seem as hard to move on.  Historically to me, cat's seem more easily replaceable than dogs.  I think we had three or four cats growing up, and not many of them last longer than 3 or 4 years before getting hit by cars, tore up by raccoons or coyotes, or just plain not coming home.  After a few weeks of mourning, they were replaced by The Next Cat, and life went on.

Early in our marriage, SWMBO and I decided to get a cat.  With her being pregnant at the time, I bullied her into used superior logic to convince her that getting a mature, adult cat was the smarter thing to do than getting a kitten.  I felt that a mellow, mature cat would get along much better with a baby than a high-strung kitten, especially when that baby turned into a tail-pulling toddler. 

After a few weeks of searching, I found a navy guy who was getting ready to transfer that was getting rid of a fixed adult female for the right price...Free.  She was a pretty little gray thing, with soft long hair.  He was her third owner, and believed she was somewhere between 6 and 9 years old, indoor only, and very mellow.  Perfect.

I brought her home to my wife, and she promptly spent the next three weeks hiding under our bed before finally joining the family.  When we had our kids, she was just as well behaved with them as I hoped she would be.  Only one time did she really display any ill temper. 

About 4 years ago, my dad and step-mom got a new kitten, and found out that since they last time they had had a kitten, my step-mom had developed an allergy...so they offered her to us.  The wife brought her home...and the fun started.  Our adult cat, Missy, did not like that kitten being in her home one bit.  Hissed whenever she saw her, made a few runs at the kitten, and was in general not welcoming.  After a few days though...things seemed to settle down.  Missy appeared willing to stake her claim to our room, and let the kitten have the rest of the house.  It looked like a truce might have developed until the night my wife decided she wanted to bring the kitten to bed with her.  The kitten didn't want to stay in bed long, and as soon as she jumped out of bed, and her paw touched my bedroom floor...it was on.  By the time I got out of bed and got things separated, the kitten was bleeding from three or four places.  Moving her to another room was not enough...Missy followed her around the house...she wanted her gone, and we had to keep the kitten locked up in the other bathroom until we found a home for her. 

Fast forwarding now...and we had to make a decision.  Missy is getting older.  Sometimes, it is painful to watch her try to jump up on the bed or the couch.  Her litter box use percentage has started to slip. We have had her for over 9 years, which makes her somewhere between 15 and 18.  Prior to moving and paying a non-refundable pet deposit to our apartment, my wife brought her to the vets, for an assessment.  The vet said she seemed to be in okay shape for an older cat...a little light at only 5.5 pounds, but she had never been a fat cat...just a fury fluff ball.  He did say she was missing three teeth, and recommended switching to canned food for her.

Since the move...things have not gotten better.  I would say she is down to 75% litter box usage, which is tough in an apartment...and that is with the wife and I cleaning it out twice a day.  It seems to be just pure laziness, or even forgetfulness.  The last 5 days have been bad...she has not climbed off the couch to do anything other than eat or use the bathroom.  She used to tear around the house at night, but I haven't even heard her doing that.  Her weight is down ever more...it's not the most accurate method, but checking her 'using the on the scale with and without her method', she is much closer to 4 pounds than 5.5. 

My wife and I have started sharing sad looks and deep sighs with each other, and have whispered talks about the vets.  Other than decreasing skills, and lack of interest in the litter box, she doesn't real show signs of discomfort yet....it's not like she sits around all day crying...just laying there doing nothing.  It's reached the point where when I wake up in the morning, I have to look at her close to make sure she is still breathing...having the girls wake up to find a dead cat on the couch is not a way I want my wife to have to start her day. 

Having had her for over 9 years is the longest I have lived with a cat by far...more than double the next closest cat...as big as a joker as I have been about putting her down, or having at her with a rag full of chloroform, I'm not sure I can be an unbiased judge of when her quality of life is beginning to suffer too much. 

And my wife's quality of life...stepping in a pile of cat poop trying to get to bathroom in a dark hallway is not a pleasant way to wake up. 

1 comment:

  1. Unless you wait until they are obviously suffering, you'll always wonder if you did it too soon. That's the nature of hope. I've been through it many times, and it doesn't get easier. You might want to spring for a "health panel" lab test that checks major body functions; you might find either a compelling reason to euthanize, or a treatable problem. It may or may not help you make a decision. This stage, however long it lasts, is hard to get through, but in my experience they have always been worth it. I strongly recommend one thing - when you put her down, stay with her. It won't be easy, but you won't feel guilty afterward for abandoning her to strangers at the last moment.