Yuuki has never owned a cat.
He’s never even really had a pet. Most of his life his parents didn’t want any animal at all. It wasn’t until he went off to college that they got one small dog, and then last year they got a second small dog.
So, he was a little reluctant when I “accidentally” found a cat on Craig’s List.
After reading the book Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea as a kid, I decided that I should adopt cats that no one else will, and not kittens. It’s much easier to bond with a kitten, and they’re so cute, so they have a much higher chance of being adopted.
But, he agreed to it. I think he agreed partly due to the strong regret and sadness I still feel about a cat we lost early this summer, and the constant anxiety and depression I felt when I thought another one of my cats in Wisconsin might be dead (he was missing for a week).
I was nervous at first. I’d never really used Craig’s List before, and I’m sure you’ve all heard the same horror stories I have. Against my better judgement, I sent a message to the owner. Apparently, she wasn’t spayed, has never had any shots, and her flea medication is out of date. In reality what this translated to is: she had babies in July and might be pregnant again, and she has fleas. But she is beautiful, and a ragdoll mix. I love ragdolls.
Not really endearing myself to her at first, I got flea medication the first full day we had her. I felt bad that she kept yowling throughout the night (and I couldn’t sleep – both due to her noise and itching from fleas). She was scared by any noise anyone in our apartment complex made and I felt bad that I couldn’t tell her what they were. Between that and financial issues, I was considering giving her back. Originally knowing none of those things had been done for her I had felt I could make her life better, but after three nights in a row of constant yowling I was afraid she would never adjust, and we will have made her life worse by taking her in and then giving her up, putting her under all that stress. Strangely, also, her presence has been making me miss my other cats more, rather than less. I was stressed and sad, and at a loss of what the right thing to do was.
Surprisingly, Yuuki has helped a lot with all of it.
I asked him several times what we should do about it, and at first he just kind of shrugged. But after four or five days (tonight it will be two weeks since we received her) he was saying that we should keep her. He has clearly taken to her, and I think her to him.
But the funniest part of this whole thing is, he doesn’t treat her like a cat.
He claps at her, saying ‘おいで、おいで！’ (Come, come!) He holds her food dish commanding, ‘お座り！’ (Sit!) He grabs her paw and says ‘お手！’ (Shake!)
If you know cats at all, you can imagine her reaction. An annoyed glance or puzzled meow, usually. Unless there’s food involved, of course.
In turn, Yuuki is utterly confused by her. He doesn’t seem to understand why she won’t do any tricks, but is still determined to teach her. He was perplexed earlier today when he was batting an acorn around with her and when we laughed she suddenly stopped and pretended to have no interest. I told him we embarrassed her, and if we left her alone she’d return to it. Sure enough, as soon as he sat down by me she continued playing with the acorn (of course, like most cats, she won’t play with the toys I bought for her).
Yuuki also asks the strangest questions. He asked if he could give her a bath and seemed surprised at my reluctance to do so. “She’s in a completely new environment and doesn’t completely trust us yet, but if you want to try…you might want to buy some gloves first.” I said.
“Wait, cats hate baths?” he replied. Pretty sure I stared at him, open-mouthed. He also didn’t understand what the litterbox was for.
This is definitely an education for him.
As for the cat herself, I think she has stages of loneliness and overwhelmed. Loneliness when we’re at work/school and sleeping, and overwhelmed when both of us are suddenly ‘where’d ya go? Let’s cuddle!’ But, I think she’s enjoying the attention and we’re both adjusting. I don’t think she got as much attention in her old home. She only whines 30% or less of the night now (as opposed to 100% for the first three nights) and is, for the most parts, no longer frightened by the noises our neighbors make. Sometimes they do make pretty weird noises. Most of the fleas are gone, but it’s difficult since we can’t use a fogger. It’s gotten really cold really quickly so I hope that kills them off. I’m glad I got the flea medicine so early, because I think it stopped them from making a complete home in our apartment…but there are still some.
I know Yuuki still wants a dog, but our lifestyle of being gone so much and not having a yard doesn’t lend itself to a dog very well. To cure our cat’s loneliness I’m trying to convince him we need a second cat, but…I myself am not going to even “accidentally” check Craig’s List until we know the fleas are gone and she is spayed.
For now, we still have to name her. I wanted something punny and epic, but all the good ones are male. I have one name in mind, but I have yet to decide for sure.
A coworker of mine recently has been searching for a kitten. Another coworker said “You want a kitten. Don’t get a cat. That way you both have the same rules and you’ll be attached to her.”
I recognize the wisdom in this from my struggles when we first got her. But now, as we adjust to her and she to us, I can’t help but remember Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea again and ask, but what about all the cats that need a home?