Yes, this is a photo of a cat chilling out on a couch. Inside my house. Inside a space in which I live. Yes, dear reader, somehow, I have become a cat owner. Kind of. Purely by accident.
As most people who would call me “friend” or who simply stalk me on Twitter should know, Casa Awesome already houses two Pekingese dogs, who at first came as part of the Sara package, but have become my surrogate fluffy, stinky children. Rosie and Sophia don’t ask for much — just all the attention in the world ever, whatever food you’re eating, and as little sleep for their masters as parents of a newborn baby might enjoy. They aren’t particularly social with other animals, their usual reaction to other dogs ranging from dismissal to disdain. Basically, they’re a couple of snobby, spoiled princesses. But we love them and do little to discourage this behavior.
Now, as only a few of you know, I’m generally allergic to cats. For me to even tolerate being inside a house with feline residents, I typically have to down a strong antihistamine. As a kid, I had cats around, and was fine with them, but sometime during my late teens, that changed. I get instantaneously sneezy, my eyes water, my nose runs, etc. This, along with the fact that cats are usually known as selfish jerks who will ruin your house and lives for their own pleasure, had led me to believe they are evil creatures made of allergenic spores. Or something like that.
Well, a few weeks ago, this orange-and-white stray appeared in our backyard, on top of our tall, cinder-block walls. We knew this because Rosie and Sophia — who normally bark at invisible things in the night — were now barking at a visible thing. The cat wouldn’t come down off the wall, and wouldn’t go to any apparent home, but it kept meowing, so I figured it was hungry and gave it some food. On the wall. But it staying of the wall continued to cause the dogs to go nuts, so I braced myself for some claw action and reached up to bring it down — but the cat seemed pretty OK with me handling it.
We basically set up a camp outside our kitchen for the cat, with a pet carrier, blankets, water and food. I took photos of it, contacted local vets and shelters, put fliers up around the neighborhood, etc., hoping to find its owner. This cat was VERY friendly with both people and dogs, was obviously domesticated and not feral, and really wanted to come inside the house, so I figured someone was missing it. One old woman did respond to the fliers, but she ended up being very confused about the physical details of her lost cat, and our stray did not like her very much.
The next step was to take the cat to our vet to have it thoroughly checked out, scanned for an ID chip, and brought up to speed on any shots before we tried to give it away to a good, cat-friendly home. By this point, however, the cat was already starting to grow on us. The weather got really bad (rainy/windy) one night, and I felt really bad, so we let it inside the house, because even its mobile pet shelter wasn’t protected enough. At the vet, we spent $150 on the exam and shots, found no chip, and got that much closer to tossing out the idea of finding it a new home, especially because it had become quite attached to me by then (it would only let me put it in the carrier or handle it).
I don’t remember there being a definite decision to keep the cat, but somehow it just happened. It went from living outside most of the time to living inside most of the time. It went from not being allowed into the bedroom side of the house at all to being allowed, supervised, in any room except our master bedroom. We dropped another $100 on supplies for it. Even the dogs no longer avoid it at all costs — instead, they either just ignore it or mildly tolerate it. And my allergies? They don’t appear to be any worse than normal (and normally I have mild hay fever, so it’s hard to tell). Maybe it’s the cat’s dander isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s that we don’t let it in our bedroom. Maybe it’s that I still wash my hands after handling it. But whatever it is, my sinuses aren’t freaking out (yet).
So, yeah, we have a cat now. Her name is Cat. Because I think naming animals is kind of stupid. I mean, sure, for dogs, it helps to get their attention, but for cats? They won’t listen to you. Anyway, she’s still sad that she’s not allowed in the bedroom (deal with it), the dogs keep trying to/succeeding in eating her food, Sophia still ignores her, Rosie sometimes tries to fight her for food, and we’re trying to break Cat of her rug-scratching habit. But otherwise, all is well in our now three-pet household. I just wonder how things will go when Sara’s parents show up with their dog tomorrow …