Our house has been the unfortunate setting of an on-going cat saga. This wasn’t at all my intention when I decided to adopt two little kittens for Adelade’s eighth birthday. Even though I wasn’t totally sure our family was ready for pet ownership, Adelade’s reaction to the gift gave me confidence that we had made the right move, and we brought home two adorable and sweet and lovable kittens, whom the kids named River and Angus.
I had no way of knowing that I had chosen two dead cats walking.
Apparently, I have a real knack for seeking out the most doomed animals in town to gift to my poor, unsuspecting children. I thought to myself, This will be a wonderful opportunity (in a few years) for the kids to learn about life and death (in a few years) and experience loss on a lesser scale (in a few years) before a human they’re close to dies. Oh, yes, I really thought I had it all figured out and that at least one but probably both of these cats would be around when Adelade graduates from high school. I thought their fat, spoiled cat selves would be in tons of family pictures through the years and that we would laugh about how lazy they are and learn all their quirks and have a grand old feline-y time as the kids grew up.
Turns out, the kittens were probably born with what we later confirmed was feline leukemia. As I write, just a matter of weeks after the incredible reaction from Adelade, both cats are dead. And, because I, a non-animal person, have shed hundreds of tears over these two kittens, I can now laugh about the fact that I managed to find not one, but two cats that were infected with a disease that spreads to 1-2% of the cat population. Those odds are something else. But, look at me, kids! I did it! Your mom found you two critically ill cats to get attached to right before they bought the farm! Winning!!
Let me pass on a word of advice to all of you parents out there: you should always, always say yes when your child asks you for a non cute and cuddly animal like a hermit crab. If you can talk her into choosing a fish or a lizard or even a snake, you’re in good shape. When Adelade first started wanting a pet, she begged and begged for a hermit crab. Now I really regret that I didn’t get one of those nasty things because I’m fairly sure that no one ever cuddled with a hermit crab. Therefore, no tears when he dies. Fish are a dime a dozen. No personality. No purring. It dies, you flush and move on.
But, no! I wanted something that would let you hug it. Major error in judgment! Hugging only leads to warm fuzzy feelings, which lead to a big cat-shaped hole in your heart when the little things end up taking a dirt nap. Oh, man. Those were some really sweet cats.
I have no, and I mean no desire whatsoever to ever, ever in a million and one years get another cat. But, the kids are just counting the minutes until my broken heart heals enough to let them get another one. The next one will live outside. I will encourage him to roam freely and come home only to eat and possibly purr for a few seconds before running away again. Is there a way to train cats to hate people? Maybe I should just try really hard to find the meanest cat in town and adopt him. That way we’ll all wish he would get run over and we won’t be so sad when he loses his nine lives.
Well, I got my wish. The kids totally learned about loss. I wasn’t planning on winning the title of Worst Pet Chooser in America this year, but I think I’m a real contender. I am seriously praying that this next cat is either an evil menace that we all hate or a cat who manages to live for forty years. It could happen, right?
I remember why I’m not an animal person. Because they die. And, apparently, if I am paired with them, they die almost immediately. So not cool. If the next cat isn’t strong and healthy, I may need counseling. Cats are so last month. I vote for a hermit crab–we could even get one with a picture of a cat painted on its shell. I call that a good compromise. Whatever happens, I will NOT be doing the choosing of our next pet. Little Mrs. Kitty Grim Reaper will be keeping her nose out of the process.
R.I.P., River and Angus. You were good little kitties. I really am glad we got to know you for your short time on Earth.
And….. end saga.