My old, dead kitties, Selma & Patty
My family has a long but concise history with cats. The Ass and I adopted two kittens (littermates) at a shelter in North Carolina in 1995. In 2005, I was sobbing on the phone to my mom: “I’ve got two kids in diapers and a cat that won’t use the litter box!” See, everything was fine until I got pregnant. One of the cats, who was already rather high-strung, started peeing everywhere about six months before I had my first kid. The problem never really went away, and then got very bad again after I had my second baby.
So my mom, being awesome, took the cats. Six years later, the pee-everywhere one (Patty) died. At that point we had a huge mouse problem, and were more than happy to take back the cat that wouldn’t ruin our new floors. Selma lived with us happily for about a year, and then really started showing her age. I was reluctant to get her checked out because she was really old – seventeen – and she hated the vet more than any cat I’ve ever heard of. I didn’t want to torture her at the end. We kept her home, and eventually she died.
I wanted to get another cat right away, and so did the kids. But my husband didn’t, not even a little bit. So we made a deal: the first time we saw a definite sign that the mice were back, we’d get a cat. That was over a year ago.
Fast-forward to today. I have a bunch of family visiting from all over, staying at my house. All of a sudden, my sister Cara and my son Jake saw something run across the kitchen. They both said it was a rat. This is exactly what you want to hear when you have a house full of guests. It’s right up there with “Shooting on the corner” and “Gas leak.”
I immediately got up on a chair, because that’s really the only reasonable place to be when a rat has invaded your home. I know this doesn’t make sense – I’ve heard that rats can jump six feet – but at least I would see that coming from my high vantage point.
Coincidentally, I already had an exterminator coming to spray for ants. He said it sounded more like a big field mouse than a rat. I really hope he’s right. Mice I can deal with, no matter how big. Rats are a different story. I would have to move.
I searched our neighborhood listerserv for cats, and sure enough, someone had posted just a couple weeks ago about two cats needing a home. They had followed her home from a community garden where they’d been living for about a year, and she’d had them spayed and tested. I headed to her house to meet them, intended to bring both home with me.
This one I fell in love with immediately.
Her fur was a cross between my two old cats. She warmed up to me right away.
The other one, well, I’m sad to say there was no chemistry. She was very standoffish, and seemed a little high-strung. I explained to the very nice lady who had rescued them about the trouble I’d had with Patty. I’m just not ready for that again. She was very understanding and said she had no problem with me taking just one of them. So I did.
When I brought her home she went down and hid in the basement almost immediately. I carried her upstairs at one point to show her where her food was, but she went right back downstairs. I don’t blame her. There were lots of extra people in the house. She’s really friendly with one or two people, but otherwise she’s overwhelmed. Reminds me of me.
We all went downstairs periodically to check on her and pet her. She came right out of hiding whenever I went down there, or any female for that matter. When Jake went down alone, she wouldn’t come out, but when I went down with Jake she came out and let him pet her for a long time. When my husband went down there alone, same thing. She’ll only come out when there’s a woman present. It’s really weird.
Finally, a few minutes ago, I was able to coax her upstairs.
Just a few minutes after that she went up another flight and started exploring the house. Of course, I’d rather she were here on the couch with me, protecting me from rats.
Now we have to come up with a name. Jake suggested Mittens. Fiona suggested Raquel. I vetoed both. Then Jake suggested “Jack the Licker” which sent my husband into fits of laughter.
My husband, who likes cats only a tiny bit more than he likes rodents, suggested the following names: Temporary (Temp for short); Killer (also suggested on Facebook by my friend Alice); Cocktail (since she’s a mix of our old cats; Cock for short, which completely ruins it). I hate them all.
Jake also wanted to name her Patty or Selma, after our old cats. Or Setty, or Palma. Nope. If we’re going to continue with the Simpsons theme I suggested Snowball III, but nobody else liked that. So for now she’s just Kitty.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be dreaming of rats tonight…
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