Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can't Escape Slave to Love

About three months ago, Daughter and I arrived someplace early for a class. This isn’t surprising, because I’m pathologically punctual and ever since we’ve started home-schooling, I’m so eager to hand Daughter off to more competent hands that I arrive anywhere academic early. Usually we spend the extra half-hour or so getting Daughter a snack because she hasn’t eaten since we left the house ten minutes before and she’s starving to death. This day, we grabbed her usual hedge again low-blood sugar and walked down the street, past a pet-store. The dog needed food; feeling virtuous at the thought of accomplishing something in what a minute before had been time-killing mode, we turned in.

Within seconds, I knew I wouldn’t be getting food there. It was the kind of store where they sell purebred puppies. I’m not going to stand outside the store and picket, nor am I going to shout at the owner, but neither I’m not going to support a store which supports puppy mills. It didn’t help their case that a Siberian Husky puppy was in the same-sized cage as a Pomeranian puppy and not one dog had a toy or a chewy in with them. It was dirty in there and a little sad and I feel enough animal-related despair without adding starter fuel. I spun around to leave when Daughter pointed to the back of the store, shouted “Cats!” and dashed off to see them. Grudgingly, I walked over.

The cage was in the back of the store, in what appeared to be a converted closet. To this day, I have no idea how she saw it, because it was underlit and out of eye-range. Perhaps it was the smell which drew her; even my marginally senescent nose picked up litter-box. In a small cage were two full-grown, nearly identical cats. The sign on the outside said they were available for adoption, name your price. They had neither food nor water. One cat was curled up, sleeping; the other was sitting up. She looked straight out at me, pleading. In a second, I saw their lives, stuck here, possibly not exactly being abused, but certainly being neglected. I’ve seen worse situations and not meddled, even though I wanted to. I couldn’t fix every animal in the world, but a small voice in my head said “You’re supposed to fix these two.” Daughter said, “I think they need help.”

I did what I do when I’m having a perfectly nice day and then someone needs help. I swore, softly but vigorously. Then I stomped around a little bit. And then I went outside and called Kate, the woman who runs the rescue group where I volunteer and, for the first time in the five years I’ve worked there, asked if we had room for two full-grown cats. Because hey, what rescue group doesn’t clap their collective hands in delight at the thought of two cats who are no longer in the cute kitten stage coming in, possibly for months? Kate heard the story. The only thing she asked was, “Do they need us?”

I squinted back into the darkness of the store and said, “Damn it, I think they do.”

“Then bring them in.”

I looked up at the sky and said “Nice one, St. Francis” and went to drop Daughter off at class and come back and ransom out some cats.

The store-owner looked puzzled for a second when I asked about them, perhaps forgetting they were back there. They were mother and son, both under two years old. The woman who had owned them moved in a rush and had given them to the store, paying their way until they were placed. Since I was paying to spring them, these cats had probably been the best financial decision he ever made. In reward of this, he gave me a cardboard box big enough to hold both of them. They demolished it before we reached the freeway and spent the entire trip to our shelter alternately rappelling up and down the back seats and screaming. We set them up in a nice big cage, got them some food and water; Daughter decreed their names to be Lavinia and Arthur and then she and I went home so I could vacuum cat-saliva soaked cardboard out of the back of my car.

Everyone who worked with them agreed; Lavinia and Arthur were lovely cats. Attractive, social, interested in humans. Of course, that didn’t mean there weren’t some quirks. It took two days to determine Lavinia hated her son. They might look like an exercise in cloning, but you could always tell which one was the mom; she was the one slapping the other one. His very existence drove her insane. Her attitude seemed to be “You’re grown and yet you’re still around, keeping me from making your room into a crafting room!”

They were separated and peace prevailed. Within a month, Lavinia was adopted by a family and was whisked off to a life of affection and post-spaying actualization and A Room of One’s Own. One Saturday morning, I came by to work and I passed by Arthur’s cage and stopped to give him a scritch on the head.

“Someday soon, Artie,” I said, “Someone will take you home and love you.”

Another volunteer snorted, “You mean Arthur the feline pedophile?”

The what now?

Silently, the volunteer opened a cage and let two half-grown kittens frolic around the store while she cleaned their cage and indicated I should let Arthur out. He leapt down, raced toward the marmalade kitten and commenced to...

Oh, it was unsettling.

And there was a great deal of noise.

I really don’t think the marmalade was consenting.

A spray bottle was utilized to help Arthur rediscover his composure, but as soon as the kitten started to walk away, off he went, a feline Humbert Humbert trapped in the longing for his own Dolores Haze. The volunteer continued blandly, “He has a type. It’s always male marmalades, about five months old.”

“But,” I offered feebly, “he’s spayed.”

“You know that and I know that, but ol' Arthur over there, he...oh, God. Get the spray bottle again.”

Perhaps this was why Lavinia didn't want to share a cage with him. Maybe the look she first gave me at the pet store was "Please save me from the slow death by indifference," but I'm starting to think it was “Please call my son’s parole officer.”


Blogger Sara J. Henry said...


4:30 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I knew him in another life.

9:03 PM  
Blogger MommyLisa said...

OMG - totally crazy.

5:08 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Oh my! I really needed that laugh.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He needs to meet my pug...

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He needs to meet my pug...

7:42 AM  
Blogger The Bug said...

Thanks for the laugh. Poor Arthur - so confused in so many different ways :)

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Robin Raven said...

Aw, you're my hero. Thanks for saving another two. :-)

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to buy Bitter Apple today to apply to my foster kitten's "naughty bits" so that his sister won't suckle them right off . He's a marmalade boy, 5 weeks, maybe they give out a victim vibe!

9:54 PM  
Blogger rockygrace said...

Oh man, I'd love to see Arthur's description on Petfinder - "Gets along REALLY WELL with other cats" ...

12:35 PM  
Blogger liza said...

Too funny!! I have a female cat who's in heat so bad that even my spayed/neutered? male cat will "attempt" to appease her when she whines for it. The funny thing is nothing ever gets accomplished, but every so often, he tries. ha!

6:09 PM  
Anonymous ɹǝƃƃolquǝʞoʇ said...

Oh, poor Arthur --- and just when I was feeling sorry for him.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

By the end of this post, I said my own prayer to St. Francis for my own feline, Milo, who barfs up his breakfast a few time a week, always on the carpet.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Juli said...

I KNEW your blog was going to be fantastic! So glad to have found it. I feel like I have a big, fat, wonderful novel just checked out from the library. Can't wait to read all your posts.

5:11 PM  

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