Cat Lady, by Kim Slone, 2016
Being a cat lady is not something you decide to do all at once. I mean, you don’t just wake up one day, yawn and stretch and think, I know what’s missing from my life – 15 cats! And go to the humane society and clean them out. No, becoming a cat lady is something that happens gradually as cats show up one by one.
First you decide to get a cat. A cat. Maybe you go to the Humane Society and adopt, or maybe you have a friend who has you over for coffee and happens to have a litter of kittens. You play with the kittens, and bam, you take one home. This was no accident; your friend knew she could count on you to save one of them.
Or maybe, if you live in the country, a cat wanders up to your porch and cries to be let in. You look around for her human and don’t find any evidence of human sponsorship for this pathetic little creature. She makes those Puss in Boots eyes – from the movie – at you. Of course you make room for one more.
Or maybe, by the time you have 3 or 4 cats, all spayed and neutered, along comes a pregnant female. Sigh. Well, you’re not going to leave her outside to fend for herself, are you? Of course not. Come on in, Little Girl, I’ll feed you. So you feed her through her pregnancy, and she goes into labour, and you think, Great, it’s finally happening.
And then it seems to be taking too long, she’s in distress, you’ve heard stories of difficult labours, (even though the stories you heard were about the large-headed dog breeds – bulldogs and rottweilers) and you call the vet – the emergency vet because, of course, this crisis is happening after regular hours.
Well, the answering service takes the message and pages the doctor. While you wait you decide to leave Momma alone for a bit to relax as much as she can and because your anxiety isn’t helping her, and after a half hour when you look in on her, the first head is peeking out. Crisis over, the emergency vet calls, you tell him the problem and he agrees she’s out of danger, and you both feel like handing out cigars.
Momma Girl has a litter of 5 kittens, obviously not her first rodeo, and now you have to decide how to keep them all safe. They are on a couch and you have to create a barrier to keep the little blind ones from toppling over the edge when they move around. And you have to feed Momma Girl in place.
Congratulations, cat Grandma, you now have 10 cats, and are officially a Crazy Cat Lady. (By the way, I should tell you, none of us consider ourselves crazy. That’s an outside term.) Oh sure, you tell yourself, you’re gonna find homes for all the kittens and then you’ll be down to 5 cats, your original 4 and Momma Girl. You even have 3 people speaking up wanting one of the kittens.
By the time the littles are 6 weeks old, 2 of the humans have backed away and stopped answering your emails. One still wants a kitten – and you verify that if anything happens and they can’t keep him, they will call you to take him back – and you give one of the little males to his new home.
Unprepared for your own emotional reaction, you’ve just given up a precious baby to an unknown home. And when you get back to the house, Momma Girl is going around the house looking for him, a worried look on her face. The other 4 kittens are looking with her. She knows she’s missing one of her babies. Thank goodness for Facebook, the young adults you gave the kitten to are uploading videos of him exploring his new home and being happy. You get to hear about his progress every time you see them around town.
But you definitely don’t want to do that again. One of the people who spoke up decides to email you again and you ignore her. She took too long. You’re not sure of her commitment. Forget Craigslist and Kijiji. Forget “Free to a good home”. Before you can even consider giving up one of your little babies now, you need references, background checks, a police clearance and it wouldn’t hurt if NSA sent one of their people around to give a thumbs up – after following them around for the last 20 years.
Nope, you’re keeping all the remaining babies and planning their first vet visits. Congratulations, you are now a household of one human, one dog and 9 cats.
Welcome to the Crazy Cat Lady club.