I was driving in my garage on Easter morning after brunch when I thought I saw what looked to me like a ginormous sewer rat. (In reality it was a ground squirrel.) I have never been so freaked out...ever. I didn't have the knowledge about how to deal with vermin in my house, and seriously thought about just putting the house up for sale. No lie, pathetic I get it, but I don't like rats especially ginormous city sewer rats that could chew my face off as I sleep at night. It could have been, come on, that's not dramatic. Just cautious.
My boyfriend at the time, who really was just no help in the "man department" suggested getting a cat. I had been thinking about getting one for a long time anyway. The kids were getting older and cats were easier than human babies, so why not? Cats are pretty low maintenance and I just don't get attached to them like I do dogs or you know humans so I thought perfect lets get a cat, it will keep the mice and rats and other things I don't want in my house away.
The next morning we go to the shelter and pick out Jack our cat. He was a kitten and the lady at the shelter thought he was born in January so we decided that Jack and Sophie (my second baby) would have the same birthday. (Score one for the kid who thinks nobody loves her.) We take him home spoil him rotten with new toys, kitty beds, and the best food. He is loved/hated by the kids, he is a kitten so he is very "spirited" You know spirited like what I was trained as a teacher to tell the parents of the bratty kids. "No no, Mrs. Jones, little Johnny isn't disrupting the class climbing over the desks to get to my pencil holder to start throwing pencils at his fellow classmates, he's just spirited! Who wants 20 kids that behave all the time anyway??" Yeah like that.
Eventually, come September or so the little boys started to really fall in love with the cat. He would sleep on Nick's bed at night and after Nick and Nathan got home from their Dad's house on Thursdays they would race through the house yelling for Jack. After finding him they would spend a scary amount (no doubt for the cat) of time laying on him and telling him how much they missed him, as the cat, I am sure, was just expressing his love and amount he missed the boys by scratching at their faces and biting their legs.
Many times throughout these eight months I have thought about giving him back to the pound or at the least finding him a nice home without kids.
Many times I have cleaned up bloody scratches and soothed broken hearts as the kids don't understand why the cat would bite/scratch run away from them when all they wanted to do was "play with him"
Many times I caught myself petting that damn thing as I sat and watched T.V. wondering how the sound of his purring could make me feel calm and happy.
Many times I laughed at the pictures I took of the kids trying to dress Jack up in Cabbage Patch clothes, or unsuccessfully trying to put make-up on him.
I thought we were making progress though, after the little guy got neutered he calmed down a bit. I don't know if that was my imagination or if after being desexed he just didn't have the desire anymore to prove that he was the alpha pet in this household.
I don't get attached to cats. I just don't. I know its probably my cold cold heart, but I used to be a big embarrassing cat lover. Before Lily we had a cat who I loved more than life itself. I had about 340 picture albums full of all the cute things the cat did. When I got pregnant with Lily, I used to tell people that if Lily was allergic to the cat, then I would put Lily's crib in the garage (and I was only really halfway kidding). I couldn't imagine loving my baby more than I loved my "first baby". Then I had her and I could barely remember the cats name, and the pictures of the cat got replaced with thousands of pictures of my sweet little baby. It's that thing that until you have your own just doesn't make sense but it happened to me even as much as I tried to resist it. I wasn't worried that this time around it would be hard for me to stay detached from something that wasn't really an extension of myself.
I took care of Jack gave him fresh water and food every night, and changed his litter box every morning, but I didn't have that undying love toward him that comes so easily when little bitty pieces of your heart are walking around.
Jack got outside alot. I even stopped looking for him when he would get out. I figured who am I to deny him his kitty freedom. He would cry at the door and I was convinced he was trying to espcape from this kidtastic house he was thrust into. He would always come back at night to eat and sleep, and he almost never wanted to go out when it was cold or rainy. I thought What the hell? He had his shots and he couldn't impregnate any of the neighborhood girl cats so why not let him run around outside and have his kitty fun. Nick, my four year old thought that Jack went across the street and played with the neighbors dog. Yeah that dog weighs more than me, and I am pretty sure the cat wasn't over there playing cards but who knows stranger acquaintances have been formed.
I leave for Kewanne where my boyfriend lives every Tuesday afternoon and am back on Thursday mornings. I ALWAYS put the cat in the house before I leave, or at least make sure a neighbor gets him in the house or garage if I can't find him before I go. Well this weekend I didn't. It had just started to rain and it was freezing and icky out and I ran around the house with Jack's food bowl and called his name, but no luck. So I called a friend and just asked her to keep an eye out for him and took off. He has been outside before with no problems and I wasn't too worried, expect I didn't want him to be too cold.
I get home Thursday morning. I have a call on my phone with the animal shelter, thinking that Jack had somehow gotten picked up by animal control I quickly call them back without listening to the message, at the exact moment the lady is telling me that Jack was turned in by a couple who had hit him with their car, my wonderful neighbor Bill was knocking on my door with a note, from this person, who had thought the cat had belonged to my neighbor, since apparently Jack had run out from his driveway, and had left a note on his front door.
As I am reading the note that said that this man was very sorry but that my cat had ran out in front of his car and that they didn't have time to stop, that they had taken my cat to their vet but that he had died on impact, the vet had said, and that their doc had recommend taking him to the pound in case I had that tracking chip put in him when I had adopted him (I had) ,that is how the shelter got my number and was waiting to hear from me before they did anything with his body.
I'm not so good with death. Human death, animal death, death of strangers or loved ones, I don't exactly handle myself all that great. I felt sick to my stomach and even though I never really did bond with Jack, the thought of my kids not having him around anymore was enough to make me start to bawl right there on the phone.
The lady at the shelter we'll just call her "the bitch with no tact" was at that moment giving me a lecture on why I should have not let my cat get outside and how this is why the shelter sees so many accidents and an increase in their animal population every year is because of owners like myself who don't care enough about their pets to keep them safe indoors. If I hadn't been so completely in shock at that moment I would have told that lady to bite me in not so few of words, but I didn't I cried and apologized and cried to my neighbor who told me that it wasn't my fault and made me hot chocolate. You can tell he has to be the best grandpa ever.
When my boys got home from their Dad's, as usual the first thing my four year old does is go around the house and yell for Jack with his brother and partner in crime behind him yelling "Kitty! Kitty!" Now I am not a softy by any means but that broke my heart. Ughh I had to tell them that Jack wasn't here and that I thought maybe he had ran away for awhile to go and play with his kitty friends down the street. I had no idea how to deal with that on a kid level. "Hey kids, your know your mom? Yeah she failed miserably as a pet owner and Jack is now eating meow mix in the sky." ???? The girls who never got so attached to them weren't that disappointed, now they could leave their bedroom door open at night so the cat wouldn't get in and jump on their feet all night.
It was a sad day for me yesterday, it was a day that I look on as a big fat failure for me as a grownup. I hate to fail. I hate to do something that I know was half assed by leaving him outside instead of looking for him. I know I am a more responsible person than that and it pisses me off that I didn't take the time to find him and put him inside where he wouldn't meet tires on the road. I think I am gonna take a break from raising any kind of furry animals for awhile, maybe a nice house plant? We will all undoubtably miss him here in our family and I am just very grateful that we had him for these eight months.