Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Light She Was and Like a Fairy

Those of you who follow this exercise in pathology I like to call my blog will recall I had seven houseguests a few weeks ago. The expectation was I would have them until June 1st, when the kittens would be eight weeks old and off to their new homes and Carmen would go to the woman who had generously offered to take her. Until then, they would live in my garage and I would feed them and care for them and never get anywhere near Carmen unless I was wearing the long gloves. But about three weeks ago it got very hot around here, over a hundred degrees during the day. The garage is shaded, with windows I kept open at night and a fan I ran during the day and for the first two days, it wasn’t too bad. But then the walls started radiating the heat they had absorbed, making the inside of the garage even hotter than it was outside, and all seven of my guests were panting. Cats aren’t supposed to pant; it’s unsettling.

They couldn’t live in the back yard, because even in the cage they would be vulnerable to raccoons, possums and coyotes. They couldn’t live in the house because Carmen couldn’t be exposed to other cats. They had to move; a call went out among the volunteers and a couple nobly offered to take in the motley and malodorous crew. All I had to do was get them there, which meant tearing down the cage they were living in, putting it in my trunk and jamming Carmen and the kids into a cat-carrier which actually fit into my car.

Consort, of course, was in the stage of Big Project known as Sudden Trip out of Town, leaving me with only my child to help. She was very eager to be of service but since I believe that part of the social contract of parenthood is to get them to adulthood with all ten fingers intact, I put on the long gloves, said a quick prayer of help to Saint Francis of Assisi, and started moving bodies. Two good things came of this; all seven cats were moved without insult to either me or the cat and I now have a new example for the word “Ordeal.” They were situated in their new home which was indoors and air-conditioned, I bid them a fond farewell, Carmen hissed at me for the last time, and the kid and I went home.

The heat-wave broke the next day.

I offered to take them back, but the head of the group decided moving them was too stressful on everyone involved; I couldn’t exactly disagree. Also, the new couple liked the chaos, everyone was happy, I wasn’t needed. I was okay with that, but the part of me which needs to be of service sulked. “Give me a cause,” it warned, “Or I swear I’ll dredge out the unfinished knitting.”
Mercifully, a cause arrived at the rescue within a week. Someone found her on the street and brought her in. She was about eight weeks old. She was probably black and white under all the dirt. She had a bronchial infection which prevented her from being in the kitten population and therefore needed a foster-home. She was very loud. I got some kitten shampoo, a weeks’ worth of antibiotics and kitten-food, and she and I went home. I named her Clementine. She shouted at me, purred sweetly and ate my hair. I put her in a spacious and comfortable crate in the garage.

The next morning, a heat-wave started.

Clementine had to leave the garage, but she couldn’t go back to the store and I didn’t want to ask another person to take over my responsibility again and she was very tiny and took up very little room…I made a decision.

I take great pleasure in the times when I write about something I think is truly peculiar about me, being a documentary-hag or inadvertently insulting a little person or being unclear on adult activities, only to have people write into the blog and say things like “You, too? Oh my God, I thought I was the only one!” It’s cozy, this community of awkward people. But I think I’m pretty much alone when I tell you that I have a foster-kitten living in my bathroom. Yes, the heat has broken but I’m convinced that all I have to do to make it come back is set up the crate out there again. Besides, it’s kind of fun to have a kitten in the bathroom, as long as you aren’t too shy about being stared at while doing bathroom-type things or having a cat rappel up your pant-leg doesn’t cause your bladder to seize up. She’s fun and, as Consort astutely noted, if you are going to have a litter-box in your house, it’s best to have it in a room that has a strong fan.

On May 22nd, her new parents will pick her up and take her to her new home with her new housemate, a twenty-eight pound cat. She will boss him around and I hope my darling Clementine will be very happy and lead a long and lovely life. And then the part of me which needs to be of service will walk into the bathroom and sigh wistfully, lacking a project. With any luck, it won’t notice we need to repaint.

14 Comments:

Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

That was great, Quinn. I, too, suffer from the same afflicton. But for me it is more a deep seated need to be needed. :)

Peace - Rene

1:13 PM  
Blogger Mujercita said...

I have a tendency to want to adopt every needy animal I see. If I ever move any place that has enough room for lots of small fluffy creatures, I will be in trouble- It is very difficult for me to say no to those little eyes.

I may pass on the cats though, at least as long as I'm living by myself- last time I catsat, the kittens thought my curly hair looked like an excellent toy. However, it was also TANGLED curly hair. Cue two struggling kittens stuck in my hair. That was fun...

1:28 PM  
Blogger SusannahS said...

Many, many years ago I moved back into my mother's house after college, having absolutely no clue as to what I really wanted to do. With me, I brought my recently adopted cat. My mother, formerly known as She Who Hates Cats, fell head over heals in love with my cat...but he DESPISED her with a passion. No problem, said the newly reformed She. She adopted a kitten of her own.
And then we went to a cat show. Dangerous places, those fancy cat shows. As we were driving, Mother reiterated that we were not bringing home another cat. Oh now, we didn't. We brought home two cats!
Cats at home, who had despised each other, ganged up on new kittens, so for the first two weeks, the new kittens had to live in the downstairs bathroom. When we let them out to play, the old cats were sequestered in an upstairs bathroom. Much fun was not had by all.
Happy ending, though. Things finally calmed down and some cats went to live with my grandmother.

2:30 PM  
Blogger red fish said...

Please dredge out the unfinished knitting. I'd love to read that post.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

yeah, my first thought when I saw the return of the heat wave was, "just keep her in the bathroom." I have convalesced more than one cat there to great effect. The nice thing about bathrooms is that all the surfaces are washable, which is especially useful when dealing with various liquid cat emissions. So Quinn, no matter what the subject may be, you are so. so. not. alone.

7:31 AM  
Blogger cndymkr / jean said...

Thank god you are around or a great number of cats would be out of luck. Clementine was very, very lucky to have found you.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I loved the line “It’s cozy, this community of awkward people.” :)

I think I’ve said it before but it needs repeating. Thank you for all you do to help the orphaned animals, especially the kittens. I’m grateful that you are willing and able to help.

By the way: I pre-ordered your book on Amazon and I’m looking forward to reading it this summer. If it is anything like your blog then I know I’m in for a treat.

12:35 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

We used to foster puppies, and they are WAY harder than kittens because they poop everywhere and they cry and cry and cry at night. It's so horrible to have sobbing puppies whining so loudly that you can't sleep.

And.... we're getting another kitten. I know. I know. But I cannot resist the little things. And Worthless Pet is getting so old and his asthma is acting up a lot, so I'm guessing that he might not be around all that much longer, so we'll be down to two cats, which is reasonable, right?

I am SUCH a sucker.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I've used the bathroom as a cat pen many times. At the moment, however, it's our new Puppy Palace: On March 29, I found an obviously lost and rather pregnant dog hanging around the street outside my house. After some coaxing, we got her inside and, later, to the vet, who said she was about four weeks from delivery. Well, just two weeks later out popped (OK, more like "oozed") six puppies. Who are now, yes, growing up in our bathroom. (Luckily we have three others, so we could spare one temporarily without too much hardship.) They'll be five weeks old tomorrow and ready to go to new homes in about three more weeks. So if anyone in LA is looking for a new best friend (or just likes puppy pix), see http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=98639&id=771958614&l=bd8938b9d3

I wonder how many other bathrooms out there are doing similar duty in this puppy/kitten season?

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See? You're never alone on the internet. My bathroom has served as quarantine pen for a feral cat who had to be isolated for a month before being introduced to the rest of our feline household. Also as a holding pen for the lost bassett hound whose owners couldn't come get him until tomorrow, but who had to be kept safe from the above-mentioned formerly-feral cat who was trying to kill him.

12:48 PM  
Blogger starbird2005 said...

Our Emily was a teenaged mom who was rescued from a neighborhood cat poisoner. She recovered from her spaying in a bathroom. When she drowned the mouse toys and clung to the rescuer's leg, it was clear she was ready for a home. At the adoption show Emily poked her paw out of the cage door and literally tapped me on the shoulder. She still likes bathrooms, though she has the whole house to roam now.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Pat Christensen said...

I had a roommate once who had a beautiful Siberian Huskie that she bred. When she and I were both out to work, the mama dog and all three puppies were kept in the bathroom. This saved breakables, houseplants and half-filled garbage cans. This also suited Mama nicely, because when she needed a break from her offspring, she just hopped into the tub. Their legs were too short to follow.

The arrangement was a bit less suitable for the humans in the house. Messes can be cleaned easily enough and were. But we ended up having to retile the bathroom after the puppies were old enough to place in their own homes, because the puppies ATE the tile right off the walls.

They were cute little puppies, though.

6:35 PM  
Blogger class-factotum said...

My cats don't live in the bathroom, but Laverne follows me in there to make sure I do it right, including putting her paws on my knees to inspect what is going on. That's a little audacious, but at 4:00 a.m., I am not always awake enough to push her away.

Shirley doesn't come in, but sits vigil outside the door.

My cats need to get a life.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

I've had many a foster in the bathroom! And it was easier when it was kittens than when it was raccoons, believe me.

What gives me tremendous anguish is when I get kittens in the "Pre-Pooping" stage. Yes, when you get them young enough, you have to help the kittens poop. And pee. In fact, technically it's known as "piddling the kittens." Should you ever have to piddle kittens, it helps to have a nice big stack of fluffy hand towels, and those triangular foam cosmetic wedges, which can be dipped in warm water (warm, not hot, not cold!), and then used to encourge your shrieking little mite to poop and/or pee, as the need might be, by wiping from the little tummy down to the little outlets, just like Mom would. When not piddling your kittens, you load them up with fuel, so you can be ready for the next round of piddling!

I think I just had a flashback.

1:44 PM  

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