Anyone who knows my wife, Jeanine, knows her love of animals. At any given time, you can find at least two pets in our household. Sometimes even more. And she likes to mix it up with the type of animals we have. Always a dog, frequently a rodent (our hedgehog qualifies in this category), sometimes some fish, maybe a bird, and as of late, cats. Kittens to be more precise. Let me back up….
Jeanine has two weaknesses: animals and children, especially her students. So, when her students, many whom happen to live in our neighborhood, come by with a kitten in a box claiming they found it abandoned in the park, Jeanine is willing to help. Of course, the parents of the students decline the opportunity to take on the extensive care of these deserted kittens, so their next logical thought is to bring them over to Ms. J.
Despite my efforts to convince her to not accept these fuzzy nuisances from the wide-eyed children, she always succumbs to her weaknesses. I’ve tried demanding, pleading, ordering, and even crying to persuade her to not take the kittens into our house. Yes, this is a recurring problem for the Gooch household. Alas, my efforts are dismissed, and we become foster parents yet again to furry monsters that when rolled up are barely the size of a tennis ball.
When the first one shows up at our doorstep, I know this is not the end of it. You see, when cats have babies, they have many. And when they abandon one, they typically abandon all. It is always just a matter of time before all the neighborhood rugrats discover and deliver them to our door, one by one.
I know what you are thinking. They are adorable, helpless little kittens. Why would I not want them in my home? They have cute faces, soft fuzzy fur, and are just so sweet.
That is not entirely true.
They smell bad, always covered in urine. They are loud, constantly crying out for affection and food. They need a special bottle with special formula to fill their special bellies. When we wake up in the morning, we need to feed and clean the cats. When we get home from work, feed and clean. It’s time for our dinner, but wait, more feeding and cleaning of cats. Our bedtime must wait because, well you get it.
Beyond the kittens, I’m starting to think the children that bring them to us are the devil in disguise. They want to deprive me of sleep and rest. They like that I don’t have a single clean towel in the house because they are all covered in kitten pee. The children somehow know I am allergic and my endless sneezing, itchy throat, and (newly formed) eczema will go completely bonkers.
Our tile floor is covered with small kitten paw prints. I’m not sure if it is from them stepping in their milk, tuna, or their own feces. Either way, I’m afraid to go barefoot anymore. Inevitably, they pee when we hold them. Who pees while eating? What is that all about?
But then they grow and get a little bigger. They learn to eat kitten food and wean from the milk bottle. It sustains longer so they start crying less. Somehow, they figure out to urinate only in the litter box. They start learning how to play with Styrofoam balls that we repurposed as kitten toys. They figure out how to climb up our pants and sit on our lap while we enjoy our dinner or relax on the couch. They want to “cuddle” as Jeanine says. All of the sudden, they look cute when they walk, or softly nudge at our foot to pick them up. Their skin piercing claws don’t seem to hurt as much anymore. I get used to the itchy throat and stuffy nose. They start to become fun and adorable. Maybe a small bond between man and beast.
So maybe it isn’t so bad. The first month of hell has a silver lining, a sense of reward for the efforts. The question is, is the reward enough to do it all again the next time rug-rat kid brings a kitten to our door?
That is easy. Nope. 🙂