I should probably write about the hurricane today, right? Because that’s the topic of the day, or if you’re fancy and French, the topic du jour, or whatever. But the hurricane, which here in my area has been downgraded to a tropical storm, really isn’t doing much at the moment. I mean, yes, it’s raining, and the parking lot is kind of wet, and it’s a little windy, but mostly it’s just a regular storm. And I’m not really complaining about that, since people are dying in places where the hurricane is worse, and also, because other parts of town got hit harder than I did, tech day at my theater was cancelled, giving me an unexpected day off so I get to blog today after all and possibly watch television or something. But I was kind of looking forward to a scary storm. I mean, a little bit of one. I didn’t want to have to lose power, or anything. But I was prepared! I had candles! I had storm food! And I love windy stormy days. They are most exciting.
No, instead of up-to-date Irene coverage, which I suppose you can get from Twitter or Facebook or your local news station or whatever, let’s talk about something that the Internet is fascinated with: cats. Even more specifically: MY cats.
These are my cats. On your left, you have Dumbcat. He actually has a real name which isn’t Dumbcat, but he doesn’t like the Internet to know his business and I have to respect his privacy. He’s very kidnappable and if you knew his real name you might be able to lure him into your child molester van. Also he’s in witness relocation and so it’s a safety issue. Dumbcat, as his name implies, rides the short bus to school every single day.
On your right you have Bittercat. Bittercat also has a name but she hates you too much to tell it to you. She is very snooty and pretentious, and will correct your pronunciation of certain words and also pee on your floor if you’ve displeased her. And listen, you’ve always displeased her.
Dumbcat and Bittercat are from Arizona and are adopted shelter cats. Quick PSA, because sometimes I can be serious, too (SHUT UP I TOTALLY CAN) – get your pets from shelters whenever possible. Because I worked at a shelter for almost two years, and we had to put a lot of animals to sleep. This is upsetting and unneccessary and also means I’m probably definitely going to hell someday. Get your pets spayed or neutered and when you’re ready for a pet, go to the shelter and get one. Because it’s trite and a cliche, sure, but you really are saving your pet’s life.
Bittercat was my first grown-up person pet. I decided I wanted a cat so I went to the shelter with a list. I wanted a male cat, black and white, with a bad-ass attitude. I apparently was under the impression that the shelter was like the grocery store with well-stocked shelves. I surprisingly actually found the cat I was looking for, took him out of the cage, and cuddled him. When he started growling in my ear and tensing himself to eat my face I decided that maybe he wasn’t a good fit and possibly a zombie cat and put him back.
Bittercat was in the back of her cage, curled up in her litter pan. She didn’t have a card on her cage telling information about her, so I took her out and she attached herself to me like velcro. I had claw marks in my shoulder for a week after I adopted her, she held on so hard. She was not very big and she was kind of wheezy and she had pretty brown and black colors and I really, really wanted to bring a cat home, so I brought her up to the front desk. They asked me where her information card was so they could process the paperwork. I said she didn’t have one. There was a fury of whispered discussion and a quiet phone call to the back and a shelter employee came up, gave me and Bittercat a weird look, and handed over the card.
The reason Bittercat’s card wasn’t on her cage was because, minutes before I had entered the room, the shelter employee had pulled it from the cage and brought it into the room where animals were put to sleep. Seconds after I left the room with Bittercat (which I found out you actually weren’t supposed to do, but she was all velcro-ey and I didn’t know the rules) the worker had gone into the room to get her to put her down and found her missing. While I was up front talking to the receptionist, they were looking for Bittercat, who they thought might have escaped from her cage. I found this out a couple of years later when I started working at the same shelter and they remembered me and Bittercat.
Bittercat had a serious cold, and wasn’t spayed, and had been a stray for a while so took a while to get used to me, and I’ve had her for 11 years now. She’s an old lady, my Bittercat. She’s earned her bitterness. She just wants to be left alone. And she wants you to wake up at 5am to feed her wet food, and also she wants more wet food the minute you walk in the door at night, and she’s VERY VOCAL about it. She’s also uncomfortably old-lady bony and sleeps a lot, and gives everything around her constant bitchface. It has been noted a number of times that since animals and their owners start to act like one another after a long time spent together, Bittercat and I are the SAME. I take offense to that. I’m not skinny.
Dumbcat came along a couple of years later. I was working at the shelter at that point and a bunch of super-smart-awesome-fantastic people had started driving up to the shelter after-hours and pitching cats they didn’t want out of their windows and driving away, because signing cats over to us during our very long, very gracious business hours was apparently MUCH TOO HARD. We were getting overrun with stray cats outside of the shelter, so we got a bunch of Hav-a-hart humane traps and set them up outside of the shelter. Most of the cats we caught were very feral, and not adoptable, but one day my co-worker said, “Check this one out, Amy!” and brought in a big, fat lynx point Siamese. I was sure he’d be feral – all the other cats had been, up until this point, and the ones that weren’t were avoiding the trap like it had the plague – so I did the pen test. The pen test is when you gently tap a cat through the bars of a trap with a pen. If the cat FREAKS OUT OMG and tries to eat the pen? Feral. What did the Siamese do? Head-butted the pen and started purring so loud the trap vibrated against the tiled floor. I petted him through the trap. He tried frantically to head-butt my fingers. I opened the trap and he cuddled up into my arms and purred happily there because he might be dumb, but he’s no fool, and he knew he’d won me over.
Dumbcat had been living outside for a while and had some cuts and scratches, but was otherwise ok. He also had a stub of a tail – the vet said it was a genetic thing, not a cruelty thing- and was a polydactyl, with mitten paws on the front and extra toes on the back. He also had one snaggle tooth and one broken tooth. So, in other words, he was just one big ball of genetic snafus. In better news, he was soft as a chinchilla and purred like a muscle car warming up. We held him for ten days – we had to, in case someone had lost him, although we were all pretty sure he was one of the cats someone had dumped on us – and in those ten days, we had a list of over twenty people wanting to adopt him. I wrote all of their names down with a smile and told them I’d call if the first person on the list fell through.
The first person on the list was the person writing down their names, of course.
The day I was able to take Dumbcat home, I opened up his cage and he took one look at me and bolted. Jumped right out of the cage, ran out of the cat room, and out the back door I’d propped open so I could get his carrier in the car easier. I stood there wondering how an animal that husky could move that fast. It seemed impossible, like how bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly.
The next two weeks were spent seeing glimpses of Dumbcat around the shelter. My co-workers kept a running tally for me. “Saw him over by the dog run! Left him a can of food!” “Saw him behind the night watchman’s trailer – he ran under it when I walked over!” I was heartbroken. I was a bad potential kitty mommy. Finally we decided to stop leaving food out for him in the hope he’d get hungry enough to come into the shelter looking for some. It worked. One night, I was in the back shed putting a canned food donation away, and heard his meow – which, for a big old barrel-chested cat, sounds like a delicate opera singer. I very non-threateningly put out a can of food, which he attacked as if he hadn’t eaten in years. I snuck behind him and shut the door of the shed, so his escape route was blocked. He realized the door was shut, ran to it in a panic, then looked at me with big, scared eyes – then gave up, rolled on his back, and peeked out at me from crossed paws in an “I give, you win” gesture. I brought him home that night.
Dumbcat is – well, listen, he’s dumb. Dumbcat doesn’t like to be touched and will run away if you attempt to touch him without him initiating it, sometimes violently, after making noises like a strangled baby chimpanzee. It’s a serious problem because he is SO DAMN SQUISHABLE. You cannot see this cat and not want to just hug him until his eyes pop out. He looks like a stuffed animal. He also runs into things with his head. Like bookshelves. Once he ran twice into the same bookshelf with his head within a fifteen-minute span, and after the second time, HISSED at the bookshelf, like, “How DARE you, BOOKSHELF?” He is scared of visitors, even if he knows them, and will hide – sometimes under the couch (with his butt sticking out, because if HE can’t see YOU, YOU can’t see HIM – and when you pick him up from this type of hiding place, he regards you like unto a GOD, HOWEVER did you FIND ME?) and sometimes in cabinets. His favorite is the pots and pans cabinet because he likes to overturn the biggest pot and curl up under it with just his tail sticking out because IT IS SAFE IN THE DARK. He also hates closed cabinet doors and will go around opening the ones he can and meowing at the ones he can’t until you open them for him, because he thinks Narnia is in there? I don’t know.
Dumbcat also makes me laugh until I almost pee my pants. It’s like living with a little furry comedian whose schtick is physical comedy, done well.
So now I’ve bored you to death. Sorry. Obligatory cat post. EVERY CAT MOMMY GETS A CAT POST.
To end this blog post, Dumbcat and Bittercat want to say something. Then they have to go back to sleep. 18+ hours of sleep a day doesn’t just happen on its own, you know.
Hello. This is Bittercat. I take offense to anything written herein about me, as I have a reputation to uphold. I am a citizen with high moral standing in the cat community at large and I can’t have my name just smeared about by hack bloggers and the like. I won’t hesitate to sue. I have a lawyer on retainer, and am not in the least bit unwilling to call him if I’m not reflected in the best light in this post.
Also, it’s been five hours since anyone fed me any wet food, and the dish isn’t going to fill itself. Get to it, non-furred lackey.
Most very sincerely yours,
Hello this is dumbkat i have fur. Oen time i aet a bug and it taseted liek a bug. i liek you no touchingg me thogh. bekause it maeks my fur needs likcing for lng times.
loev dumbkat i have xtra toes