Friday, October 20, 2006

I Promise, One of These Days I'll Quit Blogging About Cats...

but not today.

I have a few more updates, for those of you who are sitll vaguely interested in my exploits as a feral cat colony caregiver. Sure, you all say you are vacationing, working too much, and watching your team go to the World Series. It's okay, if I were you I'd be sick of this too. But it's my blog.

Tuesday night I had the five fixed kitties recovering on the balcony. I was apprehensive about leaving them alone with Dean- who was scared of them- but I had book group and I missed last month to go get married. I'm glad I went. One of the ladies brought a bottle of champagne to "toast the bride" and we shared it. I was so touched. We decided that each month we should find a reason to celebrate.

Well it turns out those kitties are little bottomless pits. I had given them each a half a can of food when I got them. When I got home the balcony was littered was dry cat food. It looked like a bag exploded out there. I asked Dean what happened and he said the kitties ate all their food and were crying. He didn't know what to do so he took handfuls of dry food and threw them at the kitties. I asked him if throwing food at the kitties was really necessary. He said he was afraid they would lash out at him if he got any closer. I think he's going to need a crash course on recovering the cats.

Those kitties ate and ate and ate. Finally I left them each with a whole can of food when I went to bed that night. I was going to let them out at 6:30 Wednesday morning before I went to the gym. But when they woke me up with their restless crying at 4:00, I got to thinking: If I released them then, I would definitely see less people out and about to try to explain exactly what I was doing. Turns out there was one drunk college kid stumbling around and I doubt he remembers what he may have seen.

I didn't think there was anything more satisfying than letting them go. It was almost cathartic kneeling next to the cages, lifting the doors and watching them trot away, back to their lives. Only their lives won't include bringing countless of homeless kittens into the world. They ran off with full bellies and not liking me very much, so Heather said not to be surprised if I don't see them for a few days.

Speaking of homeless kittens, I got a frantic call from Heather at around 5:00 yesterday afternoon, shortly after I had gotten home from work. She said she had run into the maintenance man from my complex who found a small kitten under and abandoned couch by the dumpster. She took the kitten and called me. She said she is currently fostering several kittens right now and simply didn't have room for any more. Was I willing to take the kitten just until she could find a rescue group to take it? Against my better judgement, I agreed.

She and her boyfriend brought the kitten over along with some canned kitten food and some formula. I was shocked and terrified to see the kitten was probably about three weeks old. It's ears were still stuck to its head and it could barely stand without wobbling. What the hell was I doing? I was in way over my head. Heather said the more she thought about it, the more the kitten should go to an emergency room, but the boyfriend said it seemed healthy and that if it would eat, I should keep it until someone else could be found.

Needless to say, Dean was not thrilled to come home and find a three week old kitten locked in the bedroom, mewing and squeaking and our gigantic grown cats milling around the closed door, scratching and crying. I knew immediately I had crossed a line. I felt like I had taken advantage of Dean's graciousness about my new "hobby". Please don't misunderstand, Dean loves kitties and thinks what I am doing is noble. But he doesn't want to end up with 17 cats in a two bedroom apartment. He doesn't want to live with closed doors with recovering feral cats or litters of untrained kitten on the other side. He doesn't want our home to smell like a barn. He doesn't want our savings to go to dumping thousands of dollars into sick strays. And least of all he doesn't want to see our cats distressed or put into danger to catch diseases. I know he's right and I'm grateful one of us has some sense.

I kept the kitten for a few hours. I managed to get it to take formula from a syringe. Once in awhile Dean would storm in the bedroom, look at the kitten with dismay and say, "It's so f*cking cute. What are we going to do?" I knew he couldn't stay mad forever, but we were also both getting attached already. It was f*cking cute. Around 9:00 Heather called saying she found an experienced rescue group willing to take the kitten. I was a little disappointed. Dean was even more disappointed. "Why are they taking our kitten away?!" he wailed. We knew it was best. And part of me felt soooo not ready to have a kitten again. We are way too busy to feed this thing every few hours and I hated to think of leaving it when it came time to go home for Christmas, it would still only be a few months old.

I came away with this experience faced with a couple issues that needed to be addressed:

1. I knew this wasn't going to be easy. I knew that I might have do things like snuggle kittens I couldn't keep and that I would ultimately have to make responsible decisions if I wanted to keep my sanity. I unfortunately didn't think hard enough about how it would affect Dean. He might not be emotionally ready to do things like snuggle kittens he can't keep. We need to find his comfort zone and I need to respect it.

2. When I started this project, I was willing to do whatever I could to help the kitties. I need to recognize that there may be a difference between what I am physically able to and what I am capable of doing without losing my job, my husband and all my senses. I was so exhausted from the Big Fix that I worked from home Wednesday so I could take a nap without Dr. Hari knowing about it. I was MIA for a couple hours that day. If I would have kept the kitten I would have had to work from home today as well. I can't do things like that on a regular basis if I want to finish my Ph.D.

3. Dean and I needed to set up some definite rules. He wasn't happy I took in the kitten without consulting him. But what if I would have found it myself? Do I need permission to rescue a helpless animal? Good question. We came up with a compromise. If I find a kitten in need, I am to use my best judgement. I can take it in for a maximum of five hours after Dean gets home while I find someone else to take it. You might think this is unreasonable. What if I don't think I can find someone? Then I am to tell Dean not to come home, even it means going to a bar or a hotel. Clearly, these rules are set in place to allow my mean old husband to avoid getting too attached.

It turns out there is something more satisfying than releasing the cats. When I went out there to feed them tonight, I flashed my lantern on a black cat hovering behind a tree, waiting for the food. It had a clipped ear- one of the one I trapped, spayed and released. And it came back.

Okay. Sorry this is so long. There is just a lot going on on the kitty front. Like I said before, I am heavily steeped in this right now and I need to find an equilibrium. Be patient, dear readers. Not a lot of people understand this or why I care so much. You guys seem to get it, and for that I'm truly grateful.


brainhell said...

I am so proud of you.

lefty_grrrl said...

I'm proud of you, too.

I can't believe you nursed a three week old baby cat! I want babies!!!

sylvia said...

I am behind you competely for all you are doing for the dumpster kitties. I am amazed though that you and Dean could give up that baby kitten. I thought for sure I'd have another grandcat!

magnetbabe said...

Thank you, guys. You have no idea how much your support means to me.

lefty- It was pretty scary since it wasn't weaned or anything. It kept just kind of stumbling around trying to nurse from whatever it could: my finder, the blanket, the dish of cat food that it obviously didn't know how to eat. The syringe worked pretty well except it was messy. By the time it had to leave it was drenched with formula and all sticky. I felt so inept.

sylvia- It would have only been a matter of hours before we crossed the point of no return. We were falling in love fast. If it was able to eat on its own, I would have felt more comfortbale keeping it.

mom said...

we are all so very proud of you. this is a mature and responsible way to take care of the cats in your life. keep up the good work being exhausted from doing a deed that really matters has to be extremely satisfying, enjoy the moments

Gram said...

We are all proud but lets not forget Dean. He certainly has been a rock for you through all this. As you probably know, Grandpa would have probably thrown me out with all the cats!!! The ironic part of our situation is that He didn,t want a kitty period, but agreed reluctantly. Kiki came home, must have sensed something, and took to him like a fly to fly paper. Kiki very seldome comes to me, follows Gramps around wherever he goes. Even more amazing she has won his heart> She is first in his affections now, I come in second!!!!

Runner Girl FL said...

You were supposed to consult me too!! I'm supposed to keep you from being a cat lady!! I'm already losing ground! Good job getting an experienced group to take it. I am SOOOOOOOOO jealous that I didn't get to come over and feed/pet/snuggle the tiny kitten.

magnetbabe said...

Thanks, mom. It is satisfying though I expect some of the exhaustion is emotional. It isn't easy, but it is rewarding.

You're right, gram. Not a lot of guys would understand and feel the situation as deeply as Dean does. He's a catch! I donm't think anyone expected the relationship Grandpa and Kiki have. Cats know what's going on though, and she probably sensed his apprehension. Don't forget grandpa is home more too and bonded with her most when she was little. She probably thinks grandpa is her mommy!

runnergirl- It all happened so fast, and I think you had left town. Even though I didn't consult you first *wink* I gave the maintenance man my cell phone number to call me ASAP if there are any more babies. You'll be among the first contacted if we get another.

DearOldDad said...

Oh, Christ!

Gram said...

I have been impatiently waiting for your Dad to make a comment or two. He certainly lived up to my expectations and more!!!!

DearOldDad said...