Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My last cat

Warning: long frustrated ramble born of sleep deprivation follows. Probably not even remotely interesting or grammatically correct.

I grew up with dogs, but once I went out on my own into the world of rental housing and frequent moves, I became a cat lover. Home ownership broght back dogs, but I figured I could have both. Now I've decided I'm on my last cat. Battlecat, the old cat who logically should have been the one to come down with kidney failure instead of young, sweet, mild-mannered Kitty/Dr. Bombay, will not shut up. And when I say she will not shut up I mean that any moment that should otherwise be quiet, such as typical human sleeping hours, is filled with a non-stop "mmmmrrrrooooow." Occasionally it will stop long enough for one to think "praise allah, the fucking cat has has shut up," but it always starts back up again.

Although she has always been an annoyingly vocal cat, the non-stop noise started last fall after Kitty was gone. Battlecat never seemed to like Kitty--the only interaction they appeared to have consisted of her swatting him and running away if he got too close or tried to engage her. He always tried to be sweet to her--he would have liked to play but he settled for just being near her, which was usually no closer than about four feet because that's all Battlecat would allow. To be fair, poor Battlecat has been picked on before. Thelma Lou, one of my previous cats (and the coolest cat ever to walk the Earth) used to ambush her, sometimes waiting still and silent behind a door for a half-hour or more just because she knew sooner or later Battlecat would walk by (fortunately it was all posturing--Thelma Lou never actually hurt Battlecat). I started calling poor Battlecat "Battered cat."

So anyway, now poor Battlecat is very alone--unlike Kitty she cannot be in the same room as Mr. Gomez. Kitty would just sit still around the dogs, which didn't stimulate their prey drive ("see something move away fro you: chase it!"), but Battlecat just bolts. Lucy, being a refined and thoughtful little dog, is able to make the distinction between Battlecat and ordinary critter, and the two can hang out on the bed together peacefully. But Mr. Gomez is a bundle of impulses and has become hard-wired to give chase at the mere sight of poor Battlecat. So she doesn't get to hang out with us much, her territory being our bedroom and the spare room that serves as my office of sorts.

I try to give her a few moments of attention here and there, but she has a few habits that make it difficult and frustrating. For example, say she's at the edge of her little territory, and I decide to bend down a scritch her behind the ears. Does she stand there and let me? No, she runs toward the bedroom because what she really wants is for me to follow her, sit on the bed and pet her. That's fucking annoying. So let's say I go sit on the bed to pet her. I have to be very careful, because she's one of those cats who gets easily overstimulated and reacts by batting at one's hand (claws extended) or trying to bite. That's fucking annoying. Oh yeah, speaking of claws, unlike my other cats, she does not allow one to pick her up and snip the ends of her claws with fingernail clippers. No, with Battlecat, claw clipping is a horrible, screaming ordeal, which makes us neglect it. So her claws grow long, she gets them caught on blankets and afghans and then when one tries to free her she goes ballistic and tries to bite/scratch. That's fucking annoying.

I'm often tempted to open the front door and toss her outside ... did I mention she's been an indoor cat since tiny kittenhood? She's freaked out by her own shadow, and putting her out would be a very mean thing to do (not to mention that I am a proponent of indoor cathood). I don't know what to do. To mitigate her night wailing we have started shutting her in my "office," where her food and litter box are, and then keeping the door to our room closed so we can sleep through the racket. But this sucks because even with the heat turned way down our bedroom gets really warm with the door closed--I guess the heat of two humans and two dogs (body temp: 102 degrees F) can build up. So I swelter and can't sleep. Open the door to vent a bit ... can't sleep because of the "Mrrrrooooww, mrrroooowww." This morning I got out of bed at 5 am because it seemed pointless try and get that last hour of sleep.

I decided to use the time wisely and cut her damn claws. It was surprisingly easy--I swopped her up gently but firmly and with great authority, and just started clipping. She struggled a bit (and meowed, of course) but I think she sensed my determination and thought better of putting up her usual fight. I only did her front claws, but if I can't sleep tonight I may just do her back ones.

Anybody want a cat?

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