I should start this post by stating that I am an animal person. I am, I love animals, wild and domestic, with the exception of spiders due to severe arachnophobia (if you want entertainment, watch what happens when I am faced with an eight-legged critter: efficient hysterics come to mind). I was the nerd who had Wildlife Fact File cards, my favorite place was the zoo and I read everything I could about animals of all kinds. I always wanted a dog, though that never really worked out for me as a child. My father couldn’t be bothered while my mother (they’re divorced) kept her house like any other well-preserved museum – unlivable with the phrase “don’t touch anything!” as the house mantra.
Even without loads of personal experience, I had always wanted a dog and even though I have one now, I still feel that heart flutter every time I see a dog and exclaim, “oh puppy!” (To be clear, I know the difference between dogs and puppies, but from a cuteness, melt-my-heart standpoint, every dog is a puppy.) I am a dog person, through and through. I am a dog person. I am a dog person.
I never thought that would mean I would not be a cat person too. Why? Because I love all animals! And from a more specific and practical standpoint, I have lived with many roommates who have had cats and have never really been bothered. They just weren’t necessarily for me. My husband is a cat person through and through. Enter the start of a problem.
I knew my husband was a cat person, it is one more way we are opposites. I knew that having a cat in the household would be an adjustment for me (my office is at home, as in an actual office). Not so much our dog, Angel. Angel is fifteen pounds (maybe, full grown) and grew up around cats (again my roommates). In all honesty, dog-friendly cats are better playmates than large dogs because they are about the same size and seem to have more fun. Despite all of my reservations, I also knew that once we had a house to call our own, I wanted my husband to be able to have a cat. So, after almost a year of being homeowners and a month after we were married, I knew the time had come…
ME: Roy, sit down. We need to have a talk. (looking serious and unhappy)
Roy: Am I in trouble? (looking nervous, almost twitchy – he sits down next to me on our sectional)
ME: Is there anything you want to own up to – you know it would be so much better if you told me on your own. (my serious face does not soften)
Roy: No, nothing I can think of. What did I do?
All right, before you judge, Roy and I have a rule that neither of us can lie to the other unless it is related to a surprise (concealment, ruses and other lies are then completely acceptable). And Roy is hardly a saint. The ruses he has used and lies he has told to cover up weekend getaways and even his proposal have been downright mean. In truth, we both have a little fun making each other squirm and telling stories, since these are our only opportunities to do so.
ME: I want you to take a look at something. (I do not take my eyes off him and I know my look is cold. Roy swallows nervously as I turn my laptop around so the screen is facing him. Roy beams.)
Roy: Are you serious?
Yes, I was. This was not a rash decision on my part – I had plotted, planned and talked to several people about ideas on where to put the litter box so the dog could not get into it and researched the proper pace to slowly introduce the two animals.
Sometimes I want to slap my past self and scream, “What were you thinking?”
I knew the new addition would be hardest on me when it came to making adjustments, but seeing the look on my husband’s face was the only reinforcement I needed that this was the right thing to do. Besides, I had lived with many cats before; having my own couldn’t be that different…
We found a cat. I had to tell Roy about his surprise because I wanted him to pick out our newest member of the family. We looked through ads on craigslist and searched animal shelter databases before making a trip down to a local shelter. Roy found his cat and while he had held a few, this one was it. There was never a question about it – it was love at first meow. The light in his eyes, the look on his face… he found his feline soul mate. The adoption happened faster than I realized it would and we went home with Roy’s new love that evening.
Her name is Moxy, and she lives up to her name. During the introduction of Moxy I was doing quite well. That is probably because she was sequestered to an empty spare bedroom for the most part as we slowly introduced her to Angel and then the rest of the house. After that, I became less and less enthusiastic. That was nearly 21 long months ago, and I am still adjusting.
I love Angel, and for me that relationship is pure – love/love, even when she does something wrong, she is my fur baby. The cat is the other one. I love her, and I do not hate her, but I call the relationship love/hate because while I love her, worry about her and would be devastated if something happened to her – that creature drives me to drink (not really, but I feel like she does and I should start). She drives me batty, and I continue to strive for more than peaceful coexistence and yet rarely get beyond that.
Why is this so hard? I am an animal person! Doesn’t that mean being a cat person should be automatic?
Most people who know me say I have more in common with cats than I do with dogs and maybe that is one of the reasons it is more difficult for me to click with them. My friends, husband and the people I gravitate towards (and vice versa) are my opposites. But as much as I try to rationalize why, I really only want to know so that I can make it better. I don’t want to be driven crazy and Moxy is only two years old. I am not going to find her another home (despite a few people’s recommendations after a few incidents) for several reasons, but the one I hold onto that beats out any other reason is because as much as my stress levels would go down and my life would be simplified, I would be sad to see her go. Even to a really great home (when that home isn’t here).
And while I have to get my hiss on (I try this over a water bottle any day, the water bottle is for when hissing no longer works, she completely understands just fails to care) or have the water bottle handy I am reminded that I love her every time she curls up in my lap, nuzzles me or when I have to save her. (Oh that happens a lot. My husband nicknamed her kamikaze kitty because she has tried to stick her paws into outlets – now childproofed – climb dangerously high ledges and railings leading to several sixteen-foot falls – we have a loft – and even more daring rescues from said railing or ledge when I am able to get to her in time. Seriously, I could write an entire blog about her crazy death defying antics – she has already used up all nine lives and then some.)
I am an animal person. I am a dog person. Does anyone have the secret to becoming a cat person too? My friends, all cat people, tell me Moxy is no ordinary cat when it comes to her behavior and habits. Unfortunately, this does not help me. Since I am stuck with fur baby #2 for at least another decade I would like to feel less stuck and not driven crazy on a daily basis. Seriously, any thoughts at all?