Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How We Obtained a Cat

I was hesitant to get a cat.  

1. Cats are a long commitment.
2. Cats will require veterinary expenditures of an unknown amount over their lifetime.
3. Cats come with cat boxes that no one cleans but Mama

However, I like cats.  My boys had wanted another pet since the guinea pig had died a year previously, and I figured a cat was a hardier animal. Daddy had a dog and a cat at his house (my cat, to clarify) and we just had a dog since the unfortunate guinea pig death that will require Big Pants to spend years in therapy, I'm sure. Daddy's cat was nearing the end of her days, and the guinea pig -sized void was about to be increased to a cat and guinea pig sized void in their lives.

Still, I wouldn't have done anything about it if a dear friend hadn't had a stray cat give birth to kittens in her house.  We went and visited the kittens as soon as their eyes opened.  They begged.  I considered.  I was filled with fear of commitment like a twenty year old man.

I bought cat food, cat litter and a cute little dish set for the kitten I was not entirely sure I wanted to obtain. I called my vet and discussed shot schedules and costs and timing of neutering, and continued wavering.

Finally they were ready to leave their mother, and with great trepidation I went sans kids to pick out a kitten.  They boys had their favorites, of course, but seeing as it would be my responsibility, I figured I should get the one I really liked. I took the cutest one they had. 

I brought the little guy home (yes, now my household consisted of two male children, a male dog, and a male cat) where he promptly hissed at me and hid under the furniture.

 I dragged him out and put him on the bed, where i promptly took a bunch of cute kitten pictures, at least until I noticed a flea on his leg. The vet had told me they could give him a mega flea pill if he in fact, had fleas, but I had neglected to pick it up.  I had fifteen minutes to get to the vet, so kitten went in a box and I ran. I fear flea infestation almost as much as lice infestation.

Kitten was given a pill and some topical stuff, and I spent the evening with him on my bed, cooing over his impossible cuteness.  Well, I did for about five minutes, until slightly dead but not entirely dead fleas started dropping off him onto my white sheet. Aaaaaaaaack!  There were more fleas than a 2 pound animal could possibly hide on his body, and they weren't entirely dead.  They were hopping. In my bed. On the bottom sheet, not on top of the comforter, because I have no foresight, apparently.

Kitten was combed against his will and allowed to return to his hiding place under the dresser while I washed everything and vacuumed thoroughly. Kitten was named in a less elaborate naming ceremony than I had envisioned due to the time spent in flea-de-infestation-ing. 

 I knew if I let the kids name him it would take days or weeks of arguing, and he'd wind up named after a football player or cartoon character, so I was claiming naming rights for myself. I would like to say I held him up to the sun, smeared ashes or crushed ochre on his forehead and said, "I Name You Grunion!" but that didn't happen. I'm not sure I even looked into his eyes and said his name with great reverence.  In fact, I'm not sure I even told him that "Grunion" was a name that belonged to him, or asked his opinion of it. I just assumed he'd figure it out.

Grunion, by the way, are fish that come up on shore to breed and lay their eggs.  They are an unusual fish, but not particularly attractive. 

image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grunion

Still, I loved naming a cat after a fish, and Grunion has a nice ring to it. 

In a weird twist of fate, their father's cat was put to sleep the same day I obtained the kitten surprise for them. I hadn't planned it as a transition animal but it  did ease their grief, or taught them to stuff their feelings and replace the dead with the living.  I'm sure it will come out in therapy one day.

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