You’re Kitten Yourself

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Our 15-year-old cat, Silver, died peacefully while I sobbed in the other room. My husband — who swears he hates cats — lay with her on a towel on the floor of our kitchen, holding her little paw as she took her final breaths.

We buried her up the hill in our backyard, in a Stephen King-esque pet cemetery containing a dozen or so little graves. No more animals, we both said. For one thing, they’re too damn expensive. For another, it’s just too hard to say goodbye.

For two years we lived a blissfully cat-free life. No scooping poop before work every day, no finding a neighborhood kid to take care of the cat when we went on vacation. And think of the money we were saving on vet bills! We were being pragmatic. Who needs a pet?

But one snowy Saturday morning I saw a skinny, striped tabby with no collar shivering at the back door, peering through the windowpane, one paw lifted in hope.

I opened the door. 

We happened to have a couple of cans of cat food in the pantry. The tabby ate in big gulps without lifting his head. And, oh, how grateful he was. He jumped straight up in the air and into my arms, wrapping his front legs around my neck for a hug, tucking his head under my chin. For the rest of the afternoon he trotted obediently after each of us in turn, purring all the while. He peeked out from behind furniture, playfully jumping out at us. 

We were smitten.

I took a picture of him and posted it on Facebook in a halfhearted effort to find out who his family was — hoping, of course, that nobody would claim him. We loved him so immediately and so completely that it didn’t take long for all bad memories of pet ownership to disappear as quickly as Tennessee snow. 

He’s ours now. 

Now more than a year later, I have to ask myself this question: Whose big fucking stupid idea was it, anyway, to adopt a cat?

This damn cat insists on sharpening his claws on the cardboard sleeves of my vinyl album collection. He uses those sharp claws when he plays hide-and-seek, the little razor blades leaving bloody trails. The game isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

He’s allergic to corn, so we have to buy him expensive food. He escaped from the house one day and got torn to shreds in a catfight, so we shelled out an obscene amount of money in vet bills. The kid who comes to feed him when we’re gone charges $15 a day.

In terms of dollars and cents and plain old aggravation, the cost of cat ownership is ridiculous. And while maybe it’s true that we get our money’s worth — sure, he really is a sweet, active, cuddly, fun little guy — sometimes that pales in the face of digging poop out of a litter box at 6 a.m. every day, dabbing Neosporin on my ankles and forking over hundreds of dollars to a vet instead of buying myself a Kate Spade purse.

Last night, he heaved up half a rubber ball along with some other glop. We’re not sure where the other half of the ball is, but he won’t eat or drink. His litter box was poop-free this morning, and he’s been sleeping all day. You don’t need a crystal ball to know another expensive visit to the vet is in my future.

Really, whose big fucking stupid idea was it, anyway, to adopt a cat?

Please, God, don’t let him die.

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