My friend called me recently to confess that she had accidently poured her fish down the sink. She told me this because I am the fish killer from hell and it has irked me no end that she has had her fish for years and years and years.
Strangely, I took no joy in her confession.
But it did get me thinking….how would one pour a cat down a sink?
Now don’t get all up in arms. I’m not going to actually do it. But here’s my confession, I have fallen out of love with my pets. And it’s all because of my kids.
Before I had babies, I had fur babies. I never called them that because it's weird but when I look back on the days when it was just me and my cats, LuLu and Zeb, I certainly treated them like my children. And loved them as fiercely. I felt like Angelina swooping into the Broadmeadows Veterinary Clinic to 'adopt' a vulnerable kitten in the hope that I could provide a better life. And for a long time, that's just what I did. Vaccinated and appreciated, my cats wanted for nothing. Each evening would be spent in front of the television sprawled on the couch with one or both cats sprawled along with me. I adored them and have the photo albums to prove it.
These cats were living like kings.
And then I had an actual baby, little LD, who was an exceptionally gorgeous baby at that. And suddenly, when my eyes fell upon the face of one of my adored and adoring pets, staring back into my eyes was …….a cat. It was a cold realisation that all my affection had been transference – what I really wanted was a baby and now, I had one. And two poor cats who left me feeling lukewarm at best. At worst, they drove me INSANE. Cat fur on baby's brand new Gap clothes? I'll skin them alive! Circling my feet meowing loudly for food when I'd just gotten the baby to sleep? Off with their heads!
Now with the arrival of Zee, not only do I have no patience for feline woes (Feed me! Let me out! Let me in! Let me out! Feed me! Change my litter! Look at me! You used to look at me! You’ve changed, man!) but even less empathy. I am one busy little motherfucker and I am simply disinclined to stop and cuddle a needy animal. I deal with shit all day long and I do it without complaint (well….) but the addition of cat shit to my already shit laden load is just too much to bear. And when they start in with their incessant meowing, I can feel my blood pressure sky-rocketing. My day is made up of crying and whingeing in varying degrees – so I’m not prepared to be screamed at for food by a cat when I know full well there’s food in their bowl.
When Zeb started clawing at the brand new carpet in our brand new rental property, well, let’s just say I started thinking about dim sims.
When I mentioned to Bren that I was feeling underwhelmed about the cats, his reaction stunned me. Prior to getting the cats, we were living in a small one bedroom apartment and when I floated the idea of getting a feline friend, he argued that the place was too small. We compromised and got two cats. So, back to now and me saying something really innocent like, “I wonder how hard it would be to rehome two adult cats?” and Bren is furious at me. I mean to tell you, he was really, really angry. “How can you even suggest it?” he fumed. “They’re family!” Oh yeah, family that you just yelled, “For fuck’s sake, Zeb!” at because he got under your feet for the zillionth time today. Family that we chase out of the bedrooms when they meow just at the point one of the kids is finally drifting off to sleep, that we resent for the constant tumbleweeds of fur and the seemingly endless supply of shit to be scooped out of the litter.
But a pet is for life.
That’s what I told my mum when she got dogs and suddenly, the cats our family had had for almost two decades fell out of favour.
That’s what I told my friend, Ori, when she confessed to me that her three-year-old daughter would chase their once beloved cat out the back door, shouting, “Get outside, Fluffy!” – Miss Three was simply mimicking Mummy’s behaviour.
Betty and Ori were no longer enjoying their once adored pets. And they were ultimately waiting for them to die. Let’s be clear – I thought they were MONSTERS.
And I know that makes me not only a monster but a hypocrite, too. A big, old hypocrite monster. The truth is that I am up to my eyeballs in the demands of motherhood – the wants and needs of my pets just feels like a terrible burden, just another of my many responsibilities, another reason why I just never seem to make a dent in my novel-length ‘To-Do’ list.
Now I’ll admit that each time someone sneezed near the cat, I was secretly hoping for a cat allergy. Then it would be out of my hands. But no, LD was fine. Egg was out but the kitties could stay. So when Zee started scratching like he had bugs under his skin, I quickly linked it to his having crawled under my bed some fifteen minutes earlier – the place the cats spent the most time. I was immediately feeling something close to euphoria. I had a legitimate and important reason to rehome my cats. And after all, I reasoned, they deserved to be in a home where they could be loved and adored as they had become so accustomed.
As I looked online for stuff about rehoming, I fantasized about a time when white cat fur wouldn’t cover every surface in my home, when I could where black without fear, when the only shit I had to deal with was my kids.
But I have two adult cats in a world full of adorable kittens. And if you spend a bit of time reading about rehoming, you’ll scare yourself silly about all the terrible things that might happen. I got one response to an ad I put up and it was someone calling themselves Malwi asking me to send my address details so that they could arrange a courier to come and pick up the cats that they wanted to BUY from me. Huh. That doesn’t seem dodgy at all.
So the reality is this – even if, once I get Zee allergy tested, it turns out that he is legitimately allergic, how will that make this awful thing any easier? Will it make finding a loving new home easy? Will it take away any of my guilt? Will it stop me from feeling sad when I begin to notice the absence of our two little white balls of fluff who, when it’s all said and done, adore us and just can’t understand why we don’t cuddle them the way we used to?
For now, I’m doing nothing. I’m keeping Zee away from under the bed and I’m trying to remember to give my cats a cuddle every now and then. And beyond that, I guess I’m just praying for a miracle. Because God knows, I’m going to need one.