The internet is inundated with memes about people obsessed with dogs. I have friends who have dogs who are treated better than my children are and are probably given more attention than my children get. Me? I can stay a week at a friend’s house and only accidentally touch their dog once. I can forget that another friend has a dog because she always hides it away when I come over. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, I just don’t care for them. They do nothing for me. I guess you can call me a cat person. But not really. I’m more of a kitten person. Cute little gray and white long-haired kitties, that’s the sweet spot.
Once upon a time, my mom decided that she and I should go “look” at cats for an outing together one day. Although we were just looking, I secretly hoped we’d stumble upon a little tiny adorable long-haired gray and white kitten. That’s the perfect cat and there’s no way I’d be able to resist. We went to an adoption event and there was a couple month old, long-ish haired, black-ish cat. Not at all what I’d fall in love with, but it was cute. I took Altima out of her cage and held her. The cat seemed alright, but it wasn’t necessarily love. She didn’t check off any of the boxes for age, color, or even the length of her fur. She was cute because she was a kitten, but she was a bit on the scraggly side. I held her while I walked around and browsed other cats up for adoption. Just as I was about to put her back in her cage, a nice, young couple walked in and told the person in charge that they were there to see Altima. And if you’ve ever questioned my character, what happened next should clear things up for you. I squeezed the cat a little tighter and instantly decided that this was the cat for me. That poor couple never even got to pet her because with a signature or two and a small donation, she became mine in a matter of minutes. Sorry, not sorry. I later renamed my kidnapped kitty from Altima to Zoey.
They boxed Zoey up (because, ya know, I was there to look and not adopt, so I wasn’t prepared with a cat carrier) and we hopped in the car. And that’s when I should have known that I had just taken ownership of the worst cat ever. Within moments of getting in the car, she pooped in the cardboard box with a 25-minute ride home. It smelled and was all in her fur. Strike 1.
After a couple of days of having her I noticed one day that she was taking an unusually long nap. Being the good pet owner that I am, I left her alone so she could get her beauty sleep. Another hour or two passed and she still hadn’t moved. Upon further inspection, her eyes were all goopy and were glued shut with goop. No wonder she wasn’t moving! Turns out she has a form of herpes of the eyes that is a lifelong condition. Strike 2.
A year or so later, I’m living on my own with Zoey. Once a week I was out of the house for long days for graduate school out of state. Without fail, within five minutes of me returning home on school days, Zoey would poop on the carpet in the bathroom. It was her way of giving me the finger for deserting her all day. Although it was somewhat endearing that she was upset that I abandoned her, it was also gross. Strike 3.
So here I am, a little over a year into having this cat who from (literally) day one had proved that she was the best worst cat ever. She had three strikes, so you know what that means…she was out!
Well, she should have been, anyway. But remember how I don’t care for dogs? I’m also not exactly one for sports. So, I continued to spend exorbitant amounts of time with her. Besides, how could I truly be upset with a cat who has unparalleled ear hair?! I continued to spend hours every day tossing obnoxious jingly balls down the hallway for her to chase, putting her on a leash and walking her to the backyard for cookouts, dressing her up for Halloween, making her Easter baskets, getting her embroidered Christmas stockings, and all those other things people who are obsessed with their dogs do. Zoey daily received more attention than any living thing could ever want (unless you consider my oldest two kids. Those living things are helluva needy). I was pouring any spare time and energy into a cat who already had three strikes against her because she was the center of my universe and I loved her regardless of her shortcomings. I must have forgotten to mention this was pre-kids. Back when I had energy, sleep, and spare time.
Then something kinda funny happened. My husband and I had a baby. And while my husband prioritized teaching our son how to torture the cat, Zoey had a drastic decrease in attention that she was given. She took it fairly well. In fact, I think she somewhat enjoyed that she was no longer forced to play dress up and that I could focus that onto my unsuspecting offspring instead.
And then we moved. And had another baby. Turns out Zoey wasn’t a fan of those events. She must have not realized she already had three strikes against her, because she really upped her best worst cat game. She stopped using the cat litter and started to poop and pee anywhere she dang well pleased. After several veterinarian visits, hundreds of dollars, some tests, and a handful of medications, it was determined that nothing was medically wrong with her and that she was determined to not respond to behavioral interventions. Ultimately, she made it clear that she had no intentions of correcting her behaviors and, after exhausting all options (and waking up to her jumping on the bed at night for the sole purpose of pooping on us), we came to terms that the only option remaining was to re-place her for adoption.
Cue ridiculous amounts of tears, me secluding myself, and being really depressed about the whole endeavor. It took me by surprise how hard I reacted to not having Zoey around. Fast forward less than a week later when Phil surprised me by re-adopting her. In his words, “it’s easier having Zoey around than dealing with you”. She may be the worst cat ever, but she’s still too great to live without.
Zoey seems to have taken the addition of our third child in stride. She hasn’t upped the ante with her behavior (she’s been right on track with her terribleness). Unfortunately for Zoey, she continues to be tortured by everyone in the family. For a cat that seems to hate everything and everyone, she sure gets a lot of undeserved attention from the kids. She pretends like she doesn’t like it, but I think she secretly enjoys being smothered.
So, there you have it; the best worst cat’s journey in our party of boring.
But wait! There’s more!
To be continued…