I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that I used to be the cat whisperer. I would receive phone calls and messages about cats in trouble often enough that I kind of feel safe in saying that it used to be my thing. My favorite call ever has to be the one I received from my mother in the summer of 2012.
Let me back up slightly and say that the summer of 2012 had a few things going on. First and foremost, my grandmother was very ill. She had been in and out of the hospital all year with various ailments. After enduring a particularly nasty stomach bug, she was released into my mother’s home and care. My mother took a leave of absence during the time because she required full time care, a very restrictive diet, and extensive meal planning.
There was a period of time when it didn’t seem like my grandmother would make it (she did). My brother was also about a month away from his out-of-state wedding. So, you could say that there was a lot going on.
One night while catching up on the phone with my mother, she informed me that there were kittens in her yard. Prior to having a child, kittens were my number one weakness. Now, obviously, it’s sleep or the chance to watch what I want on TV.
Apparently momma cat had set her eyes on the wood shed and decided that this was the place for birthing babies. I don’t know why she would have picked a property with a very boisterous yellow lab on it. She must have seen something safe and homey about the wood pile, or else been a huge slacker and waited until she was about to start dropping kittens to find a place to shelter, because that wood pile is where she choose to go. My mom claims that she saw some kittens frolicking about on the wood pile, but I never saw any such thing.
A few days go by and I get a phone call from my mother on the verge of tears. She tells me that in the morning she saw the mother cat moving her litter out of the wood shed and into the woods. My guess was that she finally wised up and moved on to quieter real estate. After all, she was a single mother with newborns to care for. So, my mother tells me the mom came back for them one by one that morning and moved them out, but that there was one lone kitten left. She waited for a bit to be sure that the mother wasn’t coming back before she went out to check on this little ball of fluff.
Once out there, she realized why the mother hadn’t come back. The kitten was seriously ill. You could tell just by looking at him that he was in a bad way. Finally my mother broke down in tears on the phone. She couldn’t care for this dying kitten on her own, not on top of everything else.
So, I did what any reasonable crazy cat lady would do. I stopped at the pet store and picked up kitten formula and baby bottles on my way to my mother’s house.
The first thing I noticed when I saw this kitten was that he had one eye (we found out later that this wasn’t the case, but that he had such a bad eye infection that it had caused the inner eye lids to swell completely closed). Secondly, he had an awful upper respiratory tract infection. Every breath he took was ragged and wet sounding. The poor thing had snot bubbles coming out his nose. He was a hot mess. Naturally, I had to have him.
I already had five other cats at home, so I was familiar with sick kitties and knew the basics. I was sure my biggest challenge was going to be my husband. How was I going to convince him that this was temporary? That I was just going to get the kitten well and then find him a home. Essentially I was just going to be a foster mom, something I had always wanted to do.
Obviously this worked out amazingly since I am not allowed to foster and this kitten became resident cat number six. That’s right, number six.
That was four years ago this summer. A lot has changed since then. We are down to three cats. Yes, the little kitten that could is one of them. We named him Mad Eye Moody in honor of his original condition. The name is quite suiting.
Moody is so unlike any other cat that I’ve ever met. Although his eye ultimately healed, there is some lingering damage. The scar tissue caused part of his eye to fuse shut. It’s not too bad, but you can tell that the one eye is a little off.
It also weeps, badly. Sometimes it hardens and looks gross. Sometimes it doesn’t and he comes up and wipes the goop off on an unsuspecting bystander. He walks into things often. He only learned to jump in the past two years or so (which may have been inspired by a certain small child). Also, he can’t meow. He either never learned how or thinks it’s beneath him. Instead he does this thing that is half chirp half yowl.
He has an… aroma… unlike anything I have ever smelled before.
I’ve seen him pull the padding from the carpet up and walk around with it in his mouth like he’s killed a bird. Paper products are like the finest steak to him. We had to buy a new bathroom trash can because he would go into it and pull out used tissues and sit there chewing on them and shredding them into a million pieces. There was dirty tissue confetti all over our bathroom before we wised up and got a new can. The new one is the kind where you step on it and the lid pops up.
Moody can’t figure out how to jump or meow, but he figured out how to get into that trash can.
There have been a lot of downsides. He started spraying before we got him fixed and destroyed our one year old carpet. Then proceeded to destroy our two year old couch. There are claw marks on everything from him trying to get up to an elevated position without the ability to jump.
But there have also been upsides. His antics are a constant source of humor. Once, I was sound asleep in bed when I heard a rustling next to me. It got louder and louder until finally I got up to check it out. It was Moody, shoulders deep in a tissue box. He had gone in, presumably, to eat tissues and had gotten the box stuck on his head. Like a skunk after that last bit of yogurt in a container.
Although I never wanted to be the lady with six cats (okay, there was a time that I did), I think it all worked out. Although I think that we would have survived just fine without him, I don’t think that he would have made it without us.
Sometimes that is upside enough.