Trying Out: New Cat Time (Week Twenty-Six)
As I have told several people in the last few weeks, I am a cataholic. And I refuse to seek treatment.
So, a week after Mylar’s end, I went searching for another cat. One can only come home to an empty apartment so many times.
The shelters put the kittens up front. They sit there, all nuzzled up against their siblings, complete with a window so that passersby get their heartstrings pulled. However, these folks believe that kittens under the age of six to eight months should be adopted in pairs. Apparently they behave better that way.
Two felines mewling for food at four a.m.? Two sets of litter boxes to clean up? Twice the vet bills? Maybe if I had a spouse. Then we could each “have” a cat. Yet I do not. So no.
I told the staff that I was looking for a cat that was still young, but that they did not need to be a kitten. I have nothing against older cats. However I would like to spend as much time with them as possible. Taking in a six year-old who gets a mystery disease a year later and is gone just like that? I at least need a fighting chance.
There was the part of me that felt the need to adopt the older cats. Someone has to give them a home. What if that someone was me? Why should I withhold a warm home, free of dog barking, tail-pulling, and traveling owners?
The staff person told me that the animals there had a quick turnaround. That absolved me of much of my mercy-guilt. Besides, I wanted a cat that I could get along with, not put up with. (Also, I have spent several months of handling peeing/pooping problems. I was ready for a break.)
So I petted, but passed up, the four year-old fluff-ball with sleepy eyes. I kept my distance from the three year-old that had notes on her file about needing help acclimating to her environment. And I maintained my family’s stance against male cats. That left Nala.
Nala is currently one year and ten months. She is young. She acts like it. If not for the shaved belly and protruding nipples full of milk that she had when I first saw her, you would never know that she had already birthed six kittens. She is a fighter. She has a scratching post now. She uses it. If any scrap piece of paper is left on the ground, she will shred it. (Which is just great for someone who collects comics. Yikes.)
She hissed more at me in the first weekend than Mylar did in our entire time together. Nala has very strong opinions. She expresses them in attacking her chew toy, in her anger, and in her purring. There is no façade with this cat. No pretense. No polite disapproval; simply rage.
For the most part, the adoption people were rather helpful. I am sure I took at least thirty minutes going back and forth between the cats. Nala would not have been my first choice. I do not know how to handle a mother cat. I like to think cats never have a reason to hiss at me. So I took some time to think it over. I had to decide if I wanted this cat around for the next fifteen years.
That is where the catch-part of adoption kicks in. They have you sign this piece of paper saying that you will keep the cat for the entirety of their lifespan. “Adopting a cat is a serious obligation and we will not let them play outside and we will be responsible for all their blahblahblah.”
It was hardly a legal contract. They sure wanted it to be, though. I felt like telling them, “If a person does not want to take care of a cat, this piece of paper is not going to change that.” Their critique of the box I brought was a little vexing too. However, Nala ended up peeing in the cardboard carrier they “strongly suggested” I buy, so nobody was happy with the situation. (Shrug)
Yeah, she peed in the box. The box was on the car seat. (I am still trying to get the smell out.) And some hissing. Yes. Clearly I made a wise acquisition. “Peaceful transition” is not quite the right phrase.
You know puppy love? We do not have that. Almost a month later and we are still adjusting to each other. I do not want to chase her back and forth. I prefer not to have blood dripping from my hand when we do play. And boy, this gal is heavy.
Yet there is cause for hope. When she purrs, she is not afraid to rub up against me. She stops eating when she is full; a lesson Mylar never learned. The only papers that she shreds are the scraps of mail that I leave strewn about the floor. Her rather cute way of giving me attention is that she will lick my hair. (And then sometimes try to bite my scalp. Sigh.)
Clearly, Nala is not quite the Mylar that I said good-bye to. But seventeen years ago, neither was Mylar. These things take time. It feels like when someone breaks up with you and you expect the next relationship to start off as great as you remember the last one being. I figure we have some work to put in. Maybe Nala will stop having berserker rages. Maybe my skin will toughen up to claw-resistant levels. Or maybe I will just keep trying to find our groove.
(Yet, at this very moment, a piece of paper is being bitten and clawed to pieces right beside me. Oh Nala…)