living with a cat

My entire life has been, “I have dogs, but I love cats, too! I’m just allergic!”

And I meant it. I was certain I was as much as cat person as a dog person. The cats I have known throughout my life have been quiet, purring, calm creatures. I briefly lived with a cat I rescued back in 2000-and..er..something. 2001? 2000? It was when I lived with Kewpie, my first Finnish Lapphund. He was a kitten, and then he wasn’t, and I suddenly could not breathe after I got home from a week away. The friend who was cat-sitting said he wasn’t going to give the cat back because he loved him. Well, that worked out fine, because as much as I didn’t want to say goodbye to Taliesin (now Danny), I legit couldn’t breathe from the cat fur. It was bad. Bad enough that I let him live with my friend. (And he’s still alive today! The cat, I mean. Well, the friend too. They are both alive. So yay all around.)

Enter Abigail.

I have learned a lot in the 6 months she’s lived with us. I have learned that I have trouble handling animals that do not listen and/or obey commands. I have learned that cats can sound an awful lot like whining, crying, small children and that sound brings out a very strong rage within me. It’s a nails-on-chalkboard sort of reaction. I can’t stand it.

I have learned that cats do not listen when you tell them “no”, nor do they care that you don’t want them to do something. And when they are annoyed with you they take it out on things you might have laying around the house – like Yoshi. Or the little urn we have on the piano with Jinx’s ashes in them.

I do not understand cats. I didn’t think they were like dogs at all, but I naively thought they’d be a little more similar. After all, all the other cats I have known sleep most of the day, and like to snuggle and purr at you. Abigail does not do any of these things.

Not that she’s mean. She’s not. She’s quite sweet, but my god is she a bitch.

My neighbours (who have always lived with cats) have said we did not get a Starter Cat. They are right. We were adopted by a poor kitten who was neglected, and abandoned by the humans who “owned” her. She was outside 99% of the time, and for three months, she was alone and abandoned in the shed next door. She was knocked up by a tom cat last summer before she was year old, had kittens, sent outside two days after the kittens were born, and then brought a 5 1/2 week old kitten to my neighbours’ house to be rescued as those humans kicked the KITTEN out, too. That kitten lives with my friend Elissa now and her name is Joy and she is exactly that. Joy. That kitten turns a year old between today and Sunday.

As I write this, Abigail is alone in the back yard, happily laying in the grass. She’s got her harness and leash on. She’s happy out there, but she doesn’t like to be out there ALONE. So she’ll stare in the house until you come outside. Then she lays between your feet.

This is the thing about Abigail. She wants to do what she wants, but she doesn’t want to be alone. Ever. She follows us around the house. She needs to be on the same floor as us at all times. She wants us to pay attention to her, but I have no idea HOW. She doesn’t want to be pet, or played with. She just wants you to… I don’t know. Worship her from afar but in a way that shows you’re paying attention to only her at all times?

I don’t get cats at all.

She wants to be outside, but she’s become quite the scaredy-cat since she’s moved indoors. If she makes a break for it when we open the back door for the dogs, she takes two steps outside and plops down. We aren’t the type of people who like outdoor cats who wander. Abigail is perfectly content in her harness and on leash. She can cover a lot of space in the yard. But she wants us outside with her. And if she’s not outside, she’ll wail at the doors, and windows non-stop.

She’s smart. She can open doors and locks and stuff. Thankfully she can’t reach the doorknob on the front door or we’d be in trouble. She doesn’t care about cat toys, or dog toys. I don’t know how to play with her. Sometimes we’ll just hold her, and bounce her in our arms like we are soothing a baby, and look outside the window. She likes that. She’s weird.

Living with a cat can make me feel incredibly defeated and hopeless at times. It has brought me to tears. Those of you reading this who have had cats or have cats are probably laughing at me and rolling your eyes. She’s so happy to see us, and be around us, but my god, I don’t know how to live with her. Yoshi is terrified of her. Sophie doesn’t give two hoots about her (ha).

But I know she’s probably not quite 2 years old yet, and it’s only been six months that she’s been an indoor(ish) cat. Every month she has slight changes in her personality. She’ll pick a new thing to love and a new thing to hate. She’s also learning. I know eventually she’ll settle into that cat-who-sleeps-all-the-time. But meanwhile, I am frustrated by how hopeless she can make me feel. Dogs listen. They can be trained. They want to please you. Cats want you to please them. I just want her to be quiet and not break things, and stop beating up Yoshi. And maybe… you know, snuggle with me on the couch once in a while.

Cats. Amirite?


PS – Abigail is the only cat neither of us seem to have an allergic reaction to. So that’s nice of her, I think.
If you’re ever worried about your cats health you can seek advice from www.tuxedo-cat.co.uk

One Comment

  • Mummy

    Abigail sure is a handful! She’s interesting and smart and cute but still, a handful. I would not have the patience that you have. Love you! XO

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