Chronicles of a Crazy Cat Lady – Goodbye, Dear Friend

The Universe’s greatest cruelty is that we outlive our animals.

That’s what Jamie said to me at the vet clinic on Thursday as we watched Fatty quietly take his last few breaths.  In that cold, empty moment, his statement echoed in my head and the sterile room seemed to spin. The blood rushed from my face and my knees started to give out from under me – I know I would have fallen had Jamie not been there to lend me the strength I didn’t have.

The day had started like most others: morning kitty snuggles, a groggy cup of coffee, fumble into my shoes, and then a walk for Percival.  When Percy and I returned from our morning jaunt and reentered the house, we were met with the overwhelming stench of sickness.  Fatty was very, very ill and I could no longer allow myself to rationalize all his symptoms as his usual ailments.  My poor, old cat was nearly seventeen years old and had been ill for the past five. He’d been to the vet countless times for endless tests and a whole mess of remedies.  I had a decision to make…

Sardonically, the most enfeebling feeling, I believe, comes from the realization that one has the power to decide if another being lives or dies. What a wretched hell for me, as it was not just any being: it was my sweet Fatty.  My soft, moldable, literary friend who snuggled with me through many a book.  My gentle, lovable old man who loyally slept by my side every night and woke me with his loud purrs every morning.

So many questions and so many shades of gray!  Should I do everything in my power to keep him with me longer? Or would the vet visits and the medications just make him miserable and only temporarily fend off the inevitable?  And no matter which decision I made, how would I know if it was a selfish one? By letting him go now, would I merely be saving myself the heartache and financial impracticality that comes with maintaining an ailing pet?  On the other hand, would prolonging his life merely be for my own benefit and cause nothing but suffering for Fatty?

After several tearful phone calls to my parents, one to Jamie, and one to John (the vet), the decision was made and so was Fatty’s final appointment.  Jamie and John carried me through the entire dreadful ordeal, and I’m so thankful they did because I can’t see how I’d have survived it without their kindness.  So proud of myself, I’ve been of late, for standing on my own two feet and being on my own in more ways than I knew to be possible – but that all disappeared as I became once again a little girl losing one of my closest friends and one of the few consistencies in my life.

The Universe’s greatest cruelty is that we outlive our animals. This crazy cat lady couldn’t agree more. When Fatty came into my life, he and I needed the same thing: reliable love and devotion.  He gave me that a hundred times over – I just hope I always gave him the same in return.

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Chronicles of a Crazy Cat Lady – Sleepovers

One of my biggest fears is that having three cats makes me completely un-date-able.  When I meet a potentially interesting fellow, I generally try to avoid the topic of pets all together in an attempt to avoid this conversation:

Potentially Interesting Fellow: So, any pets or anything? Dogs? Cats? Beta?

Me: I have cats. How about you? Any pets?

Potentially Interesting Fellow: Cats, huh? How many?

Me: Three. Do you have any pets?

Potentially Interesting Fellow: Three?! Is that a handful?

Me: Sometimes. What about you? Do you have a dog or anything? A parakeet? A trained monkey?

Potentially Interesting Fellow: Hm. Three cats.  Do you live with a boyfriend? A roommate?

Me: Nope. I live alone. Do you have a roommate?

Potentially Interesting Fellow: Alone. With three cats?

Me: ~Sigh~  Yes. Well, it was nice talking to you.  Have a nice day.

Various versions of the above conversation happen to me ALL THE TIME.  I often want to scream, “I’m not wearing a mumu and I don’t smell like cat piss!”  I’ve even considered lying about my cats and letting a potentially interesting fellow get to know me before mentally marking me as the Crazy Cat Lady, but what’s the point? If three cats are a problem initially, they’ll always be a problem.  (Anecdotally, when approached by decidedly uninteresting fellows, I tried to bring up the cats right away, hoping to end an impending miserable interaction before it began. However, each time I tried that tactic, it backfired and brought on a barrage of questions about my wonderful cats.)

So, dear reader, when taking into consideration the above disappointments, I’m sure you can understand my excitement when I found myself languishing in blissful post-coital exhaustion next to a man I considered to be brilliant, caring, charismatic, and just generally perfect for me.  While I listened to his breathing become regular as he drifted off to sleep, I let my guard down and allowed myself to think all the silly little thoughts I try to pretend I never think:  “Did that really just happen? Is he really that interested in me? Oh god, I can’t believe he’s here. That might have been the best sex I’ve ever had. Shit, he’s cute when he’s sleeping. I wonder if he could be it? If he’s not, is this the kind of guy I get to look forward to being with? Is it time for morning sex yet? I mustn’t appear too eager.  I really hope this turns into something amazing.” Etcetera.

Such was my mental state when my stream of girlish reverie was interrupted by the unmistakable heaving that precedes an enormous heap of cat barf.  My heart stopped. I crossed my fingers, hoping it was a false alarm. No luck.

Fatty heaved. Fatty hacked. And then…Fatty puked.

Very carefully, I turned my head to look at the man lying next to me. He appeared to still be asleep. Or he was too polite to acknowledge that my cat just vomited loudly. Shit! Where did Fatty puke? For a fleeting moment, I hypocritically reverted to Catholicism and prayed, Please, God, don’t let it be in his shoe! Slowly, I crept out of bed, barely breathing, as if holding my breath would keep him from waking.  Whether God heard me or Fatty just didn’t feel like puking in his shoe, I’ll never know, but I managed to clean up the mess (out of my shoe) and return to bed without notice.

That particular time I was very lucky, but that’s rarely the case.  Usually, all three of my cats are able to put me in strange and awkward social situations.  Lately, whenever inviting someone into my home, I find myself apologizing in advance. “The big black one over there, that’s Fatty. He barfs a lot, so I’m sorry for anything embarrassing he’s likely to do. Min is the fluffy one who is rubbing all over your ankles.  She doesn’t understand boundaries and will probably walk across your testicles at some point this evening. Sorry about that.  Oh, and the flash of fur that just ran by is Roxie.  She’s super shy and you won’t see much of her. She’s like this with everyone, don’t take it personally.”

Dear reader, after reading this, you may well wonder how it’s even worth it for me to have three cats.  Sometimes, in frustration, I wonder the same thing. But the truth is that I can’t imagine my life another way. The vast majority of my evenings are not spent lying next to someone I’m dying to love.  Generally, I am alone, reclined on my couch with a book. Alone, that is, except for Fatty at my side, Min on my stomach, and Roxie curled up beneath my knees.  My cats are non-negotiable fixtures in my life.  Old friends disappear to make way for new friends and men who are interested today inevitably leave tomorrow.  But no matter who rotates through my life, I can dependably go home to three furry little friends whose only demands are food and affection.

Chronicles of a Crazy Cat Lady – Cats and My Health

I left LA this weekend to escape the noise and spend some time on the central coast with friends. Unfortunately, I spent about two hours of my mini vacation in the ER. Mystically, two hundred miles away from my house and my cats, my crazy cat lady aura still managed to cling to me. The following conversation is a true story:

Nurse: Date of birth?

Meg: Eleven Fifteen Eighty-two.

Nurse notes answer.

Nurse: Any allergies to medications?

Meg: None.

Nurse: What’s you’re living situation like?

Meg: Huh?

Nurse: Are you married? Do you have any children? Roommates?

Meg: Um. I have three cats. That’s it.

Quizzical look from the nurse and more note-taking. I vaguely wonder how my cats are relevant to my ailment…

Nurse: Any family history this condition?

Meg: Not that I know of.

More notes.

Nurse: How many pregnancies?

Meg: None.

Nurse: Excuse me? How many pregnancies?

Meg: None…

Nurse: Then are your children adopted?

Meg: Excuse me???

Nurse: How did you end up with three kids if you were never pregnant?

Meg: CATS! I have three cats! I have no children. I live alone. With three cats.

Nurse: Oh…I’m terribly sorry. Let me go get the doctor.

I vaguely wondered if she was apologizing for not hearing me correctly the first time or if she was sorry that I am the crazy cat lady. Enter the doctor…

Doctor: So, how are we doing today?

Doctor reads through the nurse’s notes then looks up at me with one eyebrow raised.

Doctor: So do you have three kids or not?

…sigh…

Chronicles of a Crazy Cat Lady – Introduction

I am a twenty six year old female and I live alone.  Well, that’s not entirely true: I live with three cats.  How is it, you might ask, that someone who is only twenty six has already succumbed to this cliché lifestyle?  Glad you asked.  That is exactly what this blog is designed to figure out.  Over the next several weeks, I will supply glimpses into my cat-filled life to explore exactly why it is that I’m a walking, breathing stereotype.  These coming weeks are very important as I am in a rare and lucky position where I get to start my entire life over again.  I am my own social experiment to see how it is that a crazy cat lady socializes, dates, and copes with providing for three demanding animals alone.

So let’s get started by introducing the main characters of this story.

Meg

First, I will introduce myself.  I am moderately attractive, of average intelligence, and have a better-than average sense of fashion.  Here is a picture of me at my hottest, smartest, and best dressed.

Just kidding…

Alright, so the above only half accurate.  It’s true that I’m moderately attractive and of average intelligence, but I have no sense of fashion. Also this is what I really look like.

Things I Like: Reading, writing, hiking, rainstorms, female vocalists, old movies, dancing, men, Disneyland, singing in my car, and my cats.

Things I Dislike: Tomatoes, spiders, weather hotter than 85 F, cigarette smoke, people who do not speak plainly and to the point, and people who hate cats.

Fatty

His real name is Midnight, but I rarely refer to him as such.  Fatty has been with me for a little over five years now.  He was my uncle’s cat, but for social reasons I still don’t entirely understand, I was able to adopt the big guy. Fatty is old and sick and has a tendency to cause me much embarrassment when I have guests over.  But he’s a loveable fellow and I’m doing my best to keep him around a while longer, regardless of his charming talent for puking in my shoes.



Things Fatty Likes: Food, sleeping, ear-rubs, playing in his water dish, and alternately screaming at the fridge or bathtub.

Things Fatty Dislikes: His medications and shots, Min, getting out of bed in the morning, being ignored when he wants his belly rubbed.

Min

She’s a Turkish Angora. My parents gave her to me when one of my other cats died, leaving poor Fatty lonely.  It amazes me how much personality fits inside that tiny little body.



Things Min Likes: Treats, guests, being a bitch, beating up Fatty, running outside whenever I open the front door, talking, being held, and SHOES.

Things Min Dislikes: Sharing anything (but mostly attention), things that offend her delicate sense of smell, and Fatty.

Roxie

Roxie’s name is short for Rocket Butt, because she spastically sprints around my house for no apparent reason.  Roxie joined my little entourage when it became apparent that Min and Fatty were never going to get along.  I asked Min’s breeder what I could possibly do to create some peace, and she told me to get Min a kitten to play with…hence my third cat.



Things Roxie Likes: Having her butt scratched, toy mice, sleeping under the covers, and chasing laser pointers.

Things Roxie Dislikes: Guests coming to the house.

I like to complain about having three cats, but the truth of the matter is that I love them all dearly.  I prefer my cats to most people.  But regardless of the affection I have for them, I cannot pretend I’m unaware of the social stigma they come with.  Please sit back and enjoy the future installations of my auto-ethnography, “Chronicles of a Crazy Cat Lady”, where I will attempt to accurately describe how I stumble, blunder and generally muddle through seemingly simple, everyday situations while laden with three cats and the stereotype they lend.