- Pets and Animals
How I Became a Crazy Cat Lady
It was October of 2007 when Rich and I moved into our new house together. The bungalow itself was not new, it was built in 1921 and we were in the trendy Sugarhouse area located in Salt Lake City proper. I was a student, Rich had worked at his job for many years. We went about making the house livable as the previous owners had used the house as a rental and the renters had been disgruntled when they left.
No one had lived in the house over the summer. The lawn was dead and had weeds growing throughout the dried, yellow grass. We had our work cut out for us and a great deal of work to fix holes in the wall, problems with the electrical system throughout the house as half was the original from 1921 and the other half updated by some unknown individual as well as general issues with the house. This was for the most updated and completed by a competent handy man. The tenants had done things like destroy the garbage disposal, put holes in the wall, spray painted graffiti on the finished basement walls. We had to steam clean the rugs to get the pet odor smell out of the house it was all a great deal of work. Rich had gotten the house at an “as is” price and we knew we had to fix things when we bought the house, but it was worth it.
But one of the main reasons that we got the house, was because Rich had to have a friend care for his two cats after his divorce because he could not have them with him. When he had moved in with me, they could not live with us due to the rules of the apartment complex. They had been with this friend for a long period. Rich missed his cats Boo and Odin which he had for several years prior to his divorce. We couldn’t wait to get them in our home and to make up for lost time. Our friend that had been taking care of them over this time had been very patient and we very much appreciated her help. She was also a cat lover and had cats of her own.
Rich had previously had more cats at his old house when he was married, he had gotten custody of two out of the five and out of missing them as we were putting the house together, and the two of us went to the local animal shelter in search of a kitten. But the one kitten ended up being two, one for me and one for him. I will never forget how adorable Thor was in his little cage. He was about three months old and didn’t mind at all being at the animal shelter. He played with Rich through the bars of his cage, this little black kitten. Rich fell in love with him. I was off looking at some Himalayan kittens about five feet away, when I came over to stand by Rich who had made his choice of cats. He was going to adopt the black kitten that was so playful.
Below the cage of the black kitten we eventually named Thor, was the most pitiful little sickly looking black and white kitten. He was meowing and unhappy to be in the cage. He was directly below Thor and Thor heard him meowing and attempted to reach his paw down and play with him. They were from different litters and Thor had brothers and sisters there, but the black and white kitten was not related, he was about the same age. I immediately bonded with this poor, pathetic kitten and immediately lost interest in the little balls of fluff that I had been looking at longingly. We asked the attendant if we could see the kittens in the “get to know you” room together. Normally they did not allow this because of possible infection, however in our case where Thor wanted to play with the black and white kitten they allowed us to have them in the room together. The minute they were released into the room together, they began to play with each other rolling around on the floor as if they were siblings. We knew that we had to get both of them together and made arrangements to have them both neutered as they were both males and we would pick them up after surgery.
The little black and white kitten we named Loki. We had waited to bring home Boo and Odin until the other two kittens adjusted but only by days. We had only just gotten the house to a livable state and we kitten proofed the large basement. The basement had large windows and had originally been a second basement apartment at one time. So it was very cozy in the cool fall weather. We picked up Loki and brought him home and he was so ill. We discovered from our veterinarian that he had an upper respiratory infection and that he had an eye infection. He was also quite young to be neutered, he was a little over three months old and they had done this surgery while he was ill. He lay on my chest and just stayed with me for comfort and could hardly move. I learned to love him a great deal at this point and Rich and I were both working graveyard shift at the time and we did not want to leave him to go to work as we were concerned he might not live through the night. We were delighted to come home and find him asleep on the couch. Loki was also malnourished. He was thin anyway because he was part Siamese, which was easily seen by the shape of his head and his face and the fact he would at time have crossed eyes when he was looking at something and sounded Siamese as well. A day later we brought home Thor who was very playful and doing a lot better after his surgery. He wanted to play with Loki who was still sick and weak, we were concerned that Thor would make him worse, however the two bonded and it most likely helped Loki to overcome his illness. Both cats were put on antibiotics for their illness that they had caught at the shelter.
We soon brought home Odin and Boo. They were quite a bit older. Their ages were unknown to us as Odin had been a rescue cat that was rescued as an adult and Boo had adopted Rich, when she lived under his porch at his old house until he would allow her to come in and live with him. Odin took to the kittens immediately and began to play with them gently. We eventually called him “Uncle Odin”, because he was so good with the kittens. Odin is a large tuxedo cat, so he was like a gentle giant. Boo a small female who was part Siamese wasn’t as friendly to the kittens, she was jealous, but soon adapted to the kittens being there. As far as cats go, they adjusted pretty well to one another over time.
It was after two years of living in the house that Boo began to look ill. She quit eating and her coat looked ragged. It was quite sudden as we hadn’t noticed anything wrong. We immediately took her to the veterinarian. We discovered that Boo had a very aggressive form of cancer. She had tumors all over her internal organs and there was nothing that could be done for her except to put her to sleep and put her out of her pain and misery. Rich and I were beside ourselves with grief. Boo was a very affectionate cat that loved to be held like a baby and spent time sleeping with us and lying with us. She loved us and her home.
The other cats began to be mean to her except Loki who would lick her and be kind to her as if he knew she was sick and was trying to be supportive to her. I had been trying to bring her upstairs away from the other cats and she would try to eat and I gave her wet food hoping it would help. The vet gave us some heavy duty pain killers to dull the pain she was in. We brought her home for one day to say good bye to us and her family members, my daughter wanted to see her, she had grown close to her.
The following day, Rich and I took Boo to the vet and we knew she was not coming home with us alive. It was a horrible day for us. She wanted to be held by me, like a baby like she always did, lying against my chest and the vet tech inquired into how well she was doing, it looked like she wasn’t sick, but it was only the pain killers making her life tolerable. I held her against my chest as I always did and the vet came in to put her to sleep. She was taken from my arms and I knew that was the last time that I would ever hold her.
The vet administered the first shot which was to put her to sleep and the lethal injection came after that. But this process was not without complications and it appeared that Boo did not want to let go. The lethal injection would not circulate through her body. So she lay there in limbo still alive. Eventually the shot had to be given to her heart. We were in the room and Rich and I cried as I think we have never cried. We had a hard time making arrangements for her ashes and we decided to have her paw print.
Rich and I went to a pet store to look at the cats for adoption, but then went home. We held hands and were grief stricken for about a week with all that had happened. Rich began to look for another cat online from an adoption program and we found that they would be showing their cats at a local pet store chain. So Rich looked at the biographies of all the cat and found some black cats he was interested in. We have always tried to adopt black cats due to the fact that they are adopted the least. That is why we adopted Thor.
We showed up on the Saturday and looked at all the different cats. I found one that I loved immediately, he was a black fuzzy cat that was quite pretty. He was there with his mother and they were both up for adoption. We found out that the adoption organization was having a two for one black cat sale. Rich was waiting to see a cat he had seen online named Patrick. We waited all afternoon for Patrick’s foster family to bring him. He had only been in the foster care system for a few weeks, he was found wandering in the Cottonwood Heights area which had a kill shelter. Apparently the animal control worker had thought that he had such a sweet temperament that they immediately called the adoption agency to make sure that his life was spared and he got in the program. I would talk to the black cat named Indie I was interested in through the bars of the cage and I whispered, “I am getting you out of here”. I got to have him let out of the cage and spend time with him. He was a cat that would also allow you to hold him like a baby and nuzzled your ear and face. He had a sweet little meow.
I got quite angry at one point, as we sat waiting for Patrick to show up, a woman with a Pitt bull dog, let her dog come up to the cage with Indie and his mother. I don’t have a problem with dogs or Pitt bulls I was mad at the human involved. In fear, the mother cat attacked Indie. I felt like throttling the woman with the dog, she laughed and thought this was funny. I thought how terrifying this must be for these poor cats to be in this place with all the strange animals and people.
Finally, Patrick was brought in by his foster parents. Rich had waited all afternoon to see him and he immediately fell in love with him. He was so terrified of all the people and animals. He just sat in his cage motionless afraid to move. He didn’t make any sound. Eventually the volunteer workers talked Rich and I into taking the two black cats, Indie and Patrick. They were healthy boys, both were long-haired and they looked like they could be related. They were fairly large cats, maybe they looked larger then they were because of all their hair. We immediately renamed them, Indie became Onyx and Patrick named for Saint Patrick ’s Day, became Horus. We brought them home and unlike most people, we did not have as much time to introduce all the cats to one another. We first introduced Onyx and Horus to one another as they came from two different foster homes, we did this upstairs. They hit it off immediately and we were quite pleased with this. Then we slowly introduced the other cats that same day. There was some friction, but in less than 24 hours, no one had killed one another or had a serious fight and we were quite lucky that only a hierarchy was being established. Onyx appeared to be the alpha cat and he ran the show. Loki was a close second to him and they appeared to get along a great deal grooming each other.
Unfortunately the illness hit the very first week we had them. Onyx and Horus both had upper respiratory infections, Horus had a blockage in his stomach and they both had eye infections. They then gave these infections to the other cats. It cost a great deal of money, into the thousands in vet bills, but we had given our word that we would care for these animals the rest of their lives. We meant that we would and we have the best vet in town. But thousands of dollars later and a month of giving 5 cats medication several times a day which were not easy, Loki is very sinewy and active and quite a challenge and that included eye drops, if that could be imagined. We had a definite love for these animals and a dedication.
Six years has passed since we brought Onyx and Horus home. Would we ever bring home any other cats? No. We have been through hairballs, mistakes here and there with Horus as to where the litterbox is as he was never the same after being sick and we think it may have been from the fever he had at one point. We have had ruined couches shred to bits and everything that goes with having animals. But it is the moments when I have five cats following me around and hanging out with me as I do daily things, sleeping with me when I am sick and showing me how much they love me, that I realized that I would never have it any other way. Only a cat lover would understand this. Rich and I will look at each other when we are cleaning the three large litterboxes, or when we have to buy couch covers or look at the torn up carpet and say, “We have too many cats”. But truth be told, they are like our children and we could never live without them.