As I have written about before, I had a wicked cool cat for many years called Newton. He was a one in a million cat who loved people, never destroyed anything, didn’t sleep on my head and was fine if I vanished for a day or two and then resurfaced without prior notice. He was great company the first few years of my renewed singledom, though I swear he spent most of his life laying around and watching me. Guardian angel or secret feline NSA employee, I’m still not sure.
It was tough to put him to sleep at the beginning of this year and I missed the little blighter for the following few months, but I’ve always believed that if you have a pet you shouldn’t immediately replace it with another one, but have a few months of grace period out of, well, grace and in honor of that pet’s memory. In fact, I still have a picture of Newton on the mantel.
The kids have been eager for us to get a new cat because they too really loved Newton — as did all my friends — but wouldn’t even talk about the possibility until the summer ended.
And so over the weekend when my 16yo A- and her mom rescued a tiny little stray kitten from a pile of trash, they naturally thought it was a sign and the kitty would be a great addition to my household.
Except a funny thing happened in the intervening eight months: I realized that since the odds of getting another cat as low-key as Newton are incredibly small, I have gotten used to not having any pets and being able to both focus on the kids when they’re with me and being able to fly solo without worrying about pet care when I travel or even want to crash at someone’s house for the night. I’m sort of beyond pets at this particular moment.
There’s also the allergy issue.
G-, my now-13yo, is highly allergic to cats. Enough time has passed that they forget this fact, but I can remember being so frustrated by the idiocy of having a pet that my child was reacting to every single day that I threatened at one point to find a new home for Newton. G- bravely and lovingly responded by offering to have weekly allergy shots, and we basically ended up with him having Benadryl every single night he was in my house so he could get to sleep without sniffling and jerking around all night. Not a particularly good solution (and we spent thousands on various new age allergy treatments, all of which failed to work for the long term, in case my fellow Boulderites are about to tell me about the Amazing Dr. So-and-so from India or similar. Sorry, been there, done that, bought the $#@%# t-shirt, and it didn’t actually help)
Is he still allergic? Well, let’s just say that I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he told me this afternoon when he returned to my house for the week that he was exhausted because he’d been up until 3.30am last night as Mom’s house, sniffing and feeling poorly. 48 hours after a cat entered the picture.
There are two other factors that make me unenthused about the new kitty, who has also picked up a name: Kiwi. The first is that she’s a kitten. Kitten = madness and destruction. No thanks. I got Newton when he was about 20mo and that was nice. He was still playful but the wackiness of kittenhood (which I’m the first to admit is hilariously fun in small doses) was past him. Playing with someone’s kitten? Definitely fun. But having one with me 24×7? Not so much.
The other issue is claws. Newton had been declawed before I got him and while I do not endorse what is apparently a quite unpleasant surgical procedure, I have to admit that the result was beneficial and when he’d leap onto the couch and start madly digging at the cushion, nothing would happen. No shreds, no tears, no damage at all. Nice.
Having said that, I have to admit that in the photos A- has sent me it’s clear that Kiwi is really cute. All kittens are cute. We’re biologically wired to think baby things are cute, frankly, and kittens and puppies? 10x so!
But here’s the great news, I think: Looks like Linda’s going to adopt her to the menagerie at her house: three dogs, chickens, goats, horses and now a cat. All’s well that ends well.
And I’ll just hope that the allergy thing doesn’t come back and haunt my son as Kiwi’s fur and dander inevitably wafts through their house and settles on everything in sight. But maybe that’s just our pet karma coming full circle or something.
Sorry, Kiwi. But plan b is going to work out pretty darn well after all, and I’m thankful for that.