Are You Really Ready for a Heathen?

March 31, 2016 — 22 Comments

Dear Journal,

Nine years ago, Mr. Tiddles was left behind when his owners moved away. As a matter of fact, the rumor was that when his former owners left, the cat was stranded inside the empty apartment with nothing more than an open bag of cat food. When the new tenant moved in, she kicked him out. With nowhere to go, Mr. Tiddles wasted his days roaming the apartment complex’s parking lot, crouching under parked cars for shade and lapping up the dirty water that collected in the potholes.

My future husband would sneak servings of tuna and milk outside to the grateful cat, which explained why I found it clinging to the screen of our bedroom window one night, desperately begging to be allowed inside. I only abode its request so I could go back to sleep, but Mr. Tiddles hasn’t left our care since.

A year later, we rescued a blind Russian Blue. Then a week-old, white long-hair was added to our growing collection a year after that. And then a black long-hair a year after that. And finally, a deaf Abyssinian with a mild case of cerebellar hypoplasia a year after that. All five rescues, each with an interesting story, and all five sharing a tight, 1,200 square foot space with a man who has minor breakdowns when he feels like the cleanliness of his home is getting out of control (i.e. me).

Despite my obsessive cleaning tendencies, I struggled to learn how to cope with the expected (loose cat hair, vomit, hairballs, etc.) and the unexpected (childproofing cabinets, losing sleep, torn blinds, etc.). Because of my husband’s passion for helpless animals, I worked on myself so that I could learn to accept these challenges. Then one day, I began to realize that my life ended up revolving around the care and happiness of these animals. I don’t know how I did it, but I’m sure Xanax had something to do with it.

ultimate mess

Thanks, Xanax!

What started out as doing something I hate because I love my husband more than I hate having indoor animals turned into sharing a responsibility with someone with whom I love. I can’t imagine my life without these heathens. They not only give companionship, loyalty, and laughs, but they provide something of which my husband and I can bond.

If we’re not sending each other texts from one of our cats, one of us is playfully annoying the other by calling Zoe a drunk or claiming to repay a favor with “1,000 Elvis kisses” (which I still respond to by rolling my eyes and reminding him that Elvis kisses do not put food in our pantry). But none of this is my point. This is all just a history in which to emphasize it.

My point is, I wish people understood that if they aren’t not ready to make a lifetime commitment to an animal, maybe pet adoption isn’t for them. Cat
litter commercials and internet
memes do not accurately depict cat care life, and people need to know this because I don’t think my heart can take another story of a cat who has bonded with someone only to be abandoned when it becomes inconvenient for the owner. There’s a lot of poop. There’s a lot of hair. And there’s a lot of broken blinds and clawed furniture. But before anyone chooses to discard the loyalty of an animal because it becomes too expensive, too much work, or not as fun as they imagined, I hope they realize that if I can commit to caring for an animal for the rest of its life, so can they. There are no excuses.

No matter how much sleep I lose because Zoe spends the night opening and closing cabinet doors, no matter how frustrated I become when Blind Murphy vomits $5 worth of “special diet” cat food on the floor, I will always love and care for them because they are my family and always will be.



zoe tail

Admit it. We’ve all sang into our cat’s tail like a microphone.


Because in my house, every day is boss’s day…if I know what’s good for me.

22 responses to Are You Really Ready for a Heathen?


    I’m bawling. Cats ARE family, and I despise every single human that doesn’t understand that and treat their furbabies as such.
    You’re my hero, Cary.

    Liked by 1 person


    You’re right of course! Cats ARE family! I never provided my mother with grandchildren. Instead she got three grand cats.
    What should I say? She gets used to them. LOL
    Except that I think she would have made more of an effort to call children by their proper names instead of addressing them as ‘hey you there’…

    Liked by 1 person


    Excellent post, the memes at the end are hilarious. Except the microphone. When your microphone has sling blade claws and a pissy attitude about togetherness, you sing in the shower.

    Liked by 1 person


    I adore you for your kindness and committment to animals. If you weren’t married and gay, and I weren’t married and straight (and 68 years old), I’d hunt you down and force my attentions on you! Srsly. 😉

    Liked by 1 person


    My current cat, Clyde the Destroyer, was rehomed from a young family about to have their fist child. Clyde was very marginally socialized and a bully…not a cat you want around an infant.
    With me, he quickly learned to chew through my oxygen hose. Desperate, I took him to a no-kill shelter. They wouldn’t take him because he was un-adoptable. They couldn’t waste a precious spot on yet another un-adoptable animal. So I took him home. What else was left? It was me or death.
    I am happy to report that he now sometimes adores me. He sleeps by my pillow. He’s unsure about other people still; maybe he always will be. We are kin.

    Liked by 1 person


    Shit. I need a tissue. Those ninja onions are sneaky little mofos.

    My husband and I have three cats, all from a rescue agency (the first and third cat came from the same agency close to 3 years apart). They drive us both absolutely bonkers from time to time and yes, we lose sleep as well. They make messes, get into shit, run around like they’re on kitty crack and sometimes won’t shut up, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like you said, they’re family. We love the little bastards no matter what.

    Liked by 1 person


    I’m not a cat mom, but a dog one. But I love your adaptation from doing it for your husband to slowly assimilating into a pet person. I had a dog when I got married, I will have a dog when I die. I may or may not have a husband, but I will have a dog. (I mean that if I don’t get one when the current quite young one goes, that I will divorce. I’m a human lover as well as an animal lover)

    Liked by 1 person


    A long story (that you know already, I think), with a point, in theory: 11 years ago, my ex — a vet tech — broke up with me and left me with all of the pets we had accumulated over 9+ years because he was moving in with a (platonic) friend who couldn’t have pets. At the time, that left me with 3 dogs, 6 cats, and 3 birds.

    Far too many well-intentioned friends and family suggested that I give many of the pets to shelters or even just to go to the ex’s new house and drop some off on his front door step, because it would ease the burden on me.

    Heart-broken and angry though I was at the time, my answer was always the same (although I admit coming close a few times to letting a few trusted friends adopt some of them): NO!

    I’d made a silent or spoken promise to care for them all, to give them a home with as much comfort and as much love as I could spare, and just because my life was in utter shambles, that didn’t change my responsibilities to them… and dammit, even if I considered myself a failure at relationships, I wasn’t going to be a failure to them, too.

    I kept that promise, and when he came along a few years later, my new husband took up that promise with me. We’ve loved them all, and holy shit, have we paid financially and emotionally for it at times, but the promise has never been broken. We’ve also sat on the floor of the vet’s office far too many times, hugging them closely, stroking their heads, and whispering our final goodbyes to them through tears.

    Of that zoo, only two cats are left today (plus one new dog), and like their brothers and sisters who left us before them, they will be loved and held and snuggled and tolerated for their “OMG WHY ARE YOU VOMITING/EATING/DRINKING/DOING THAT?!?” moments right up to the very end… because they’re family.

    I don’t have a single regret.

    Liked by 1 person


    I have three rescue cats. Relatively healthy except mild IBD for one of them, and all three have a genetic intolerance for plaque. Two of them are litter mates and the other is no relation to them and four years younger. If I don’t brush their teeth several times a week, they end up with garbage breath and bleeding gums. I think the third kitty was meant to be my cat, because I had already learned to deal with the problem by the time she came along.
    My dad used to give away any animal that got to be inconvenient, which was one of his worst character flaws, but I’m more like you. I think, if you adopt a pet, you are committing to giving it the best life possible for as long as possible.

    Love your blog, and I’ve freaked my cats out several times cracking up while reading a post.

    Long enough comment?

    Liked by 1 person


    Cary—-you rock!

    Liked by 1 person


    I have to confess, I never considered singing into my cat’s tail. I’ll have to try that.

    Liked by 1 person


    5 of my 6 beasts are rescues in one form or another. The 6th, our golden retriever, we have because we have a very cute daughter (I’m not counting her as one of the beasts, BTW) which 99% of the time will get you a boy hanging around trying to get her attention. Sometimes with a puppy.
    Two of the beasts, Maxx and Libby, were dropped off at an after-hours cage at an animal control facility near my work. Co-workers and I would sneak over and “steal” animals that some gutless, cowardly asshole would stick in the cage when they wanted to dump an inconvenient animal, or litter of animals, off and didn’t even want to look someone in the eye when they did it. We’d try to find no-kill shelters, or homes, or fosters for them. I suck at fostering, which is why I have Maxx and Libby.

    Liked by 1 person


      I really wish I could foster. Unfortunately, Zoe hates other cats and Blind Murphy is a bully. Maybe one day I’ll be rich enough for my husband and I to open a handicat ranch for disabled cats. A guy can dream, can’t he?


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