Thursday, May 11, 2006

It Has Happened, I've Become One Of Those Animal People I Hate - Don't Get Me Started!

It all began so innocently, a small kitten walks into your open door one day and then two years later you're trying to get off the phone with people because you'd rather play with your cats. As much as I loathe to admit it, I have become one of those animal people I hate - don't get me started!

It was a nice day and we had the doors and windows open when Michael says, "Honey, look over there by the kitchen." And there she was, this tiny little black and white kitten that had no idea where she was or why she was there. (Only later would I find out that she had actually been in our home before.) Now everyone in the neighborhood knows all the animals in the neighborhood and no one knew where this kitten came from much less the larger kitten that was almost identical to her that was wandering our streets. So we all created the story that this was a kitten and the other larger cat must be its mother and they had been abandoned.

At this point it's probably a good thing to let you know that we only had one pet, a dog, while I was growing up - a small Cockapoo that was named Apollo Skylab due to my brother's love of the space program. I know nothing about cats, hamsters, birds or iguanas.

The plan was simple, round them up, find a no kill shelter and do a good deed for the kitties and humanity. Well after two days of coaxing and many visits from the tiny kitten, the larger one finally came in from the outside. Now Michael had many cats and dogs in his day so he was the expert. What the expert immediately found out was that the larger kitten was a boy so that killed the mom and baby theory. What it appeared was that this was a brother and sister act and that the female kitten was the runt of the litter, her older brother taking care of her on the mean streets of Las Vegas. Except now they were in the comfort of our home.

Michael, who is the living breathing version of Doctor Doolittle, immediately began "fixing" things for the cats including meals, sleeping areas and structured play. I sat back in amazement at his abilities, knowing I didn't possess any of them. And yet, something was telling me, in the back of my mind, that these cats were never going to make it to that shelter we had researched. It was when Michael declared that we should give them a week of living in luxury before we sent them to the shelter that I started knowing I was in trouble. And then, the heart breaker...I walked in to see them sleeping one day and they were literally hugging one another in their sleep. Oh God, I defy a serial killer not to have their heart melted on that one. How could we take them to a shelter where they would be adopted out separately? How would they sleep without the other to hug on? And so it came to pass that these were going to become our - ugh, as I'm writing this the urge to write "children" came too easily and I've made myself a little sick to the stomach, they became our cats.

While Michael was concerned with them getting their shots, I concerned myself with I guess what you would call creature comforts such as the electronic kitty litter pan and my brother and sister-in-law sent the automatic water fountain for them as my brother is an executive with a pet supply company. They had all the comforts in the world and I became acquainted with a roller that has tape on it to get the fur off of everything. Wherever they went I went behind them rolling their existence away. No way was I going to become more of the stereotype of a cat person by walking around with clothes covered in cat fur.

And so Michael went out of town for a month and I was left as both father and father to the cats with no real knowledge. The cats still went in and out of the house because we didn't feel we could make them house cats when they had been enjoying outdoor exploits for about six months of their life already. I freaked at the first partially dead bird they brought me but was more disgusted by what Michael called "canning it" which was the male cat's ability to bring everything from a half eaten pork chop to a roasted pepper home from some garbage can in the area.

I emailed our friends with a picture of the cats assuring them they wouldn't see holiday cards with one lighting the menorrah and the other decorating the Christmas tree. We would not, I proudly announced, become the people we knew who left their car running with the air on while eating dinner out because their dog wanted to come along. In these people's case, if they all went to get in the car and the dog jumped into the "shotgun" position, the spouse sat in the back of the car - seriously, this went on. We would also not be the people who cook all organic now and create special meals out of the "cat cuisine" cookbook. We would be a normal gay couple who just happened to own a couple cats, not the stereotypical gay couple with cats. Except we named them after characters from Wicked, the Broadway Musical based on the life of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. They were given the romantic leads' names, Elpahaba (the wicked witch) for the girl and Fiyero (the Winkie the witch falls in love with) for the boy. Okay, just reading that make me say, "Hello Gay Stereotype!"


Now remember that I know nothing about cats and Michael is away working for a month. So the first round of shots was a breeze except no matter how much of a good deed you've done by taking in two stray cats, you still have to pay double for everything. Little did I know that there was another round of shots needed in a month and that we couldn't spay or neuter them until the second round of shots - whatever the hell that means. Well, what that means is Michael said to me, "You know while I'm away, you're going to have to watch them in case she goes into heat." The only heat I know about is growing up in Arizona and I think it's an NBA team. And so it began, me staring at the cat for hours on end, waiting, waiting, for any sign of "the heat" that I knew nothing about. When Michael filled in the details and said, "Oh if she goes into heat, you'll know." I became a crazed human being. What if "the heat" happened when I was at work? What happened if "the heat" happened when they were roaming through our neighbor's yards? (We already had the white trash kitties of the neighborhood because while they were getting used to the idea of their new home, owners and that we were going to be feeding them, it didn't stop them from still begging at every door other than ours) But now I begin to think of the possibilities. What if Elphaba went into "the heat" and Fiyero couldn't contain himself? To have the white trash kitties of the neighborhood is one thing but a brother that gets his sister pregnant and we'd immediately be scheduled for an appearance on Jerry Springer for cats! Thank God, "the heat" didn't happen before Michael came home and we were able to take them to be spay and neutered but it was a long month, I'll tell you that much. During the month at one point Fiyero came in and was scratching. Only after I had spent the $200 in flea and tick medicine, house bomb, etc. did Michael make me aware that he was scratching because it was getting hot outside not because of fleas or ticks.

The good news is that I've gotten more educated about the cats. I had no idea that they slept so much and was ready to sign them up for B-12 shots and an exercise program when Michael informed me that this is what they do. And while they're more than comfortable in our home, including sleeping in bed with us, they still exhibit what Michael calls, "adopted" behavior when someone raises their voice or strangers come into the house.

The bad news is that I defend their behavior, allow them to wake me in the middle of the night when they want to be petted, and I stop my friends mid-sentence if they are visiting me and in the middle of telling me about their recent life crisis because the cats do something cute. Unfortnuately for me and those around me, it has happened, I have become one of those animal people I hate - Don't Get Me Started!

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