Monday, September 28, 2009

How I got my latest cat

Hello out there...
I adopted a young cat this month, the next-to-last survivor of a bunch of strays my friend Ali fed all summer. This isn't the cat I meant to get: those were two matching kittens, and both died of antifreeze poisoning, administered, we think, by one of Ali's neighbors. Some of them had complained about the cats hanging around. I knew the cats were strays, but when I saw them one day in August, they looked completely tame, relaxing on Ali's patio, some in the shade, some playing in the sun. There were eight or nine of them. He fed them a mixture of Cadillac canned food and rice. I went there to bring the two youngest ones home and have them checked out by the vet, and hoping to find homes for them. But when Ali's father picked one up and dropped him in Ali's old rabbit cage, he ran around in circles like a mad thing, then poked his head through a loose place in the cage, quickly squeezed through, and took off.
I had my cat carrier with me, so I left it there, asking Ali to call me if and when he caught the kittens.

Ali called me on Friday, Sept. 10, to tell me one of the kittens was dead and the other was paralyzed, still breathing, eyes open, "but he can't move." He wanted advice. I could give him none, except to take the cat to a vet, but we both thought it was too late. We didn't know if they had gotten sick or what. Both had come to his back steps, seeking help from the only humans they knew and trusted.

By Sunday night, Ali's father had caught a dark calico. I got the call, and went to get her. Ali had said she was banging around inside the the carrier, trying to get out, but by the time I got there, she was just lying on the carpet padding looking calm as could be. Ali had gone out for the evening, and his father handed me the cat carrier. As he did so, he told me she had never been touched, as far as he knew. As in, by a human. He got her into the carrier by putting a paper plate of food in it; she walked in, and he shut the door.

I wanted to say, Forget it! I can't take a feral cat home. But, I didn't have the heart.

On the way home, I talked to her and made sure nice music was on the car radio. I think she enjoyed the ride. At least, she did not complain.

I already have a cat, Bella, who is a beautiful, spoiled, black and white domestic longhair. She is about 11 years old. I've had her for ten. She was a rescue cat herself, and a little skittish at first, but nothing like this this one.

Twice before, I have attempted to adopt a companion for her, but it never worked out. She is territorial, and used to being the sole cat. Sure enough, when I opened the door and she saw the carrier, she must have known it had a cat in it. Her ears went back and she hissed. Then she turned and ran. "It's OK, Bella, she won't be here long," I said.

"She's our guest. Be nice to her."

As I've said, that was Sunday night, Sept. 13. I brought her into the bathroom, and opened the door to the crate. I put a night light in the room, closed the door and said good night. Then I went to bed and snuggled with Bella, trying to reassure her she was still my number-one cat.

I had left a litter pan in the bathroom, but when I went in there in the a.m., I discovered that the new cat had no knowledge of such things. She had pooped and peed on the carpet scrap, and boy, was it stinky. No wonder Ali's neighbors had complained. The cat herself was in the bathtub, discouraging me from taking a shower. So, I disposed of the carpet scrap, first taking bit of poop out and placing it in the litter box. I put the crate away, left food for the new cat, and went to work, unshowered.

When I came home that night, the bathroom had been trashed. All my cosmetics and skin creams, even my toothbrush, toothpaste and Softsoap were on the floor. Nothing had broken, but a bottle of scented oil was on its side. About half of it had spilled. Instead of smelling like poop, my bathroom and indeed, the whole apartment, reeked of scented oil, probably not the cat's favorite.

But, the litter pan had been used. Such a smart cat, I said, as I picked up all my stuff and moved it to other rooms. It looked like she had been running around ON the walls. We now had an appointment at the vet for the next day, Tuesday, Sept. 15.

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