When my youngest sister, Samantha, turned 15, she announced that she wanted a cat for her birthday.
My whole family was perplexed. We didn’t know a damn thing about cats, as all of us had been dog people. My dad grew up with dogs. My mom grew up with dogs. Accordingly, my sisters and I grew up with dogs.
(I will save my dog stories for another time.)
Why would we need a cat? We had dogs and neighborhood kids and a bird and a fish pond and mayhem enough in our zoo of a house. What would a cat add except more hair? Besides, we-the-non-cat-havers thought, aren’t cats like, aloof?
But Sam insisted and Jiminy Kitten came into our lives and changed it forever. Because we all quickly learned how sweet and personable and loving and funny and friggin’ adorable cats can be. And how EASY they are to take care of compared to dogs, especially if they are outdoor cats. (It should be noted that now that we’re grown-ups, all three of us have cats and both my sisters have dogs.)
So a year later, we got another one. Thinking all cats must be the same. All cats must, we suspected, be just as easy to take care of as Jiminy.
Tinkerbell was not, however, quite as charming as our first love. She was tiny and demanding and not so much fond of people. We were okay, but we weren’t huntable and therefore just not that interesting to her.
And so it goes with some cats.
But another key thing we learned from Tinkerbell (and we learned it the hard way) is that cats can get pregnant a LOT YOUNGER than dogs can. We discovered Tink was preggo just months after we took her into our home.
When she had her litter, we worked very hard to find them all homes with our friends and families. But no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t help but keep two of her kittens. (And when I say “couldn’t help but keep” I mean it; we could NOT find anyone willing to take them. Phantom and Ripper seemed destined to remain in the family forever, not because they aren't good cats but because, um, they are maybe not the most attractive cats you have ever seen. And they are a bit, um, chatty.)
So there we were – my parents in their farm house running a zoo. Three dogs and four cats, with two girls still living at home. And yet before any of us had time to contemplate how crazy THAT seemed, or that if Tink got pregnant so quickly after we got her home that maybe we should get ALL of the girls fixed…
…all of them got pregnant. Tinkerbell, Phantom, and Ripper. All pregnant at the same time. All giving birth at the same time. Meaning that my once-anti-cat family went from having Jiminy one year, to having a house fiilled with TWENTY ONE cats the next. Even the dogs were afraid to go anywhere near the rooms that housed all the kittens, and we didn’t blame them. It was a bit overwhelming.
When this round of kittens was old enough, we didn’t even bother trying to find homes for them ourselves (we had learned our lesson). Instead, we worked out a deal with a very reputable pet shop in a very upscale part of Connecticut, and not only did all the kittens find very good homes to go to, they found them within one day.
For years, then, my parents continued to be the zoo keepers, and it was all pretty okay. But times change.
Soon after my parents moved to New Hampshire with their cats and (by then) two dogs, Jiminy was struck by a car.
(It was night, and he darted out in front of the car at the last minute; the young driver couldn’t avoid him. She felt awful. Her mother was in the car with her, and when they knocked on my parents’ door to give them the news, she was sobbing. At least, we learned, it was instant, and had most likely been painless for Jiminy. The same could not be said for the poor girl.)
And then not even a year later, Tinkerbell just disappeared into the woods.
Which left my parents with Phantom and Ripper – the only two pets my parents had never voluntarily taken on in the first place.
And over the years, as all of us grew older, throughout my mom's illness and after her death, after the other two dogs passed, after my dad left the house he'd shared with my mom and Sam and moved to a smaller place just for himself, Phantom and Ripper remained part of the family. They even grew closer to my dad (almost protectively), ignoring that he had been the most staunchly anti-cat of all of us.
Now that my father, too, has passed away, we don’t know what to do with them. (It’s so sad on so many levels I can’t even talk about it. I’m crying as I write this.) It’s just that…
Healy has a house, but in addition to her full-time job and year-old son, she also has two cats and a sick dog who requires physical therapy. Samantha lives in a small apartment in Connecticut and is overrun with her own cat and her own dog, and can’t reasonably take on two more. And I live in a small apartment in San Francisco that is completely overrun with my two cats. (I tried living in a small apartment – hell, I tried living in a big apartment – with four cats once and it was just damn awful.)
So we don’t know what to do. The two cats who -- for better and worse -- remained at my parents' sides, now desperately need a home.
They have grown up with each other and shouldn’t be separated. They are also outdoor cats and have been their whole lives. They are sweet and dutiful and chatty and good. And if you happen to know of anyone, anywhere in the country, who could provide them with a good home, please email me as soon as possible.