Off to Orlando to spend the rest of Christmas with my Kiwi, whose original name was Merry, because the cat rescue folks found her in a parking lot one year ago today. And what a long, strange year it’s been.
It’s National Cat Day, so I’ve been looking at pictures of my Kiwi (left). She’s been staying with friends in another city until I can get my head together, but now I don’t have the heart to take her back. I miss her so much, but she and the cat on the right (Gilligan) have fallen into an epic cat romance. How could I break that up?
I’ve had to say too many goodbyes this year. Worst of all Kiwi, and now a friend is leaving town. Both will have better lives, so I’m trying to be happy, but…
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m feeling very, very down today, so I thought I’d torture myself even more by looking at pictures of my kitten, who I miss terribly because she no longer lives with me. I totally failed as a pet parent (long story), so I sent her to live with friends who are giving her a much better home than I ever could. I think she’s trying to tell me something here.
Missing my Kiwi marvelous much today.
Maroon 5 - Kiwi
It’s time to admit I named my cat after this song.
The Ballad of Kiwi, part 4
I keep hearing Darth Vader’s voice saying, “Your failure is now complete.”
Remember my kitten, who I had to give away to friends because of my irrational anxiety crisis? A co-worker emailed me yesterday to say that my friends had posted pictures of Kiwi on Facebook. I was so excited to see them, but since I’m not on Facebook (there, I’ve said it), I had to wait for someone to log in for me. When I finally saw this photo, my heart soared and sank at the same time. Friends of my friends had posted cute comments like, “her parents are strawberry and banana,” and it suddenly hit me that Kiwi isn’t my cat anymore. She’s theirs. Even though I didn’t think I’d ever be up to taking her back, I still kind of thought of her as being at extended sleep-away camp, not in her new permanent home. I also have to wonder if my friends are falling so in love with her (I mean, look at that face) that they wouldn’t want me to take her back, even though they said I could. Meanwhile, my mental state has not improved. Now that Kiwi is gone, the things that were bothering me before I got her are starting to bother me again.
All I know is, it’s a damn good thing I never had a baby.
The Ballad of Kiwi, part 3
At my age, I ought to know by now that you can’t live your life by song lyrics. Nevertheless, my 2012 new year’s resolution was to take the advice of my favorite band (Incubus) and “undo myself.” Three months later, I’ve come undone alright, but not in the way I’d hoped. Actually, unhinged is a more accurate word.
The full lyric is, “undo yourself and see a second sun ascend,” which I interpreted (perhaps mistakenly) as, “do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do, and be amazed by the result.” So my first act in the “undoing myself” project was to adopt a kitten, and for one brief shining moment (the first three weeks or so), I was definitely amazed. She turned out to be the sweetest kitten in the world, and everything was beautiful. Then, suddenly, despite my best efforts, my house became infested with fleas, and even though the guy who came out to spray the little buggers told me that “on a scale of one to ten, your house isn’t even a one,” I quite literally lost my mind. At some point between the second and third week of fumigation (yes, it takes at least that long), I felt my brain snap, and I’ve become so obsessive-compulsive that if you’ve ever seen the TV show Monk, you know exactly what I mean. When I’m out of the house, I’m fine, but my entire life at home now consists of vacuuming, mopping, laundering things that are already perfectly clean, separating things from other things so that they don’t become “contaminated,” washing my hands about a thousand times a day, and squinting down at little black specks on the floor and trying to decide if they’re fleas or just coffee grounds. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time at work, or at Starbucks, and not nearly enough time paying attention to my poor little kitten - in spite of the fact that the fleas are now gone. But you see, it’s not just the flea, it’s the entire cycle of the flea. I don’t want to gross anyone out by describing it in detail, but take my word for it - it’s gross. When I mentioned my insanity to my cat’s veterinarian, he said, “Oh, you’ve been online - don’t ever go online!” True, a little information can be a dangerous thing, but I can’t help it - I’m a librarian - research is what I do.
So yesterday, reluctantly, I made the 3 ½ hour trip up to Orlando to bring my kitten to some friends who offered to take care of her until I can get my head back together. I have serious doubts, though, that I’ll ever again be a fit pet-parent. Even though I’m fairly confident that I can beat the OCD, the simple fact is, you can’t un-ring the bell. There’s no Lacuna, Inc. that will erase from my memory all that I now know, and will always fear, about fleas. And the worst part is, in the grand scheme of life, it’s all so ridiculous.
But maybe it’s also all for the best. Kiwi now has two other cats to play with, a big house to roam around in, and pet-parents who aren’t psychos. A couple of days ago I was in the pet store buying her some new toys, thinking about how much I was going to miss her, feeling like a total failure, and trying to figure out how something so wonderful could go so hideously wrong so fucking fast. You can’t live your life by song lyrics, right? But just then, on the radio, came Bob Marley's Three Little Birds. "Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing is gonna be alright." Of course I started weeping, right there in the middle of Petco, and I decided that everything would be alright, especially since I’ve got such awesome friends.
Today, though, my house is a little less than a home, because Kiwi is gone, and I’m still plagued by the phantom flea menace. So, against my better judgment (since music is what got me into this mess in the first place), I’m seeking solace in the “Incubus All Day" idea that someone posted earlier today, and in remembering that I’m going to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers next week. Yep, I’m actually looking forward to seeing someone named Flea.
The Ballad of Kiwi, Part 2: The Phantom Menace
It seems I’m to have a healthy relationship with neither man nor beast.
The Ballad of Kiwi
The urge to adopt a pet is probably pretty typical after a divorce, though not necessarily because of loneliness. I’ve never had a problem living alone, but divorce makes you want things you’ve never had before, and one thing I’ve never had before is a cat.
This is Kiwi, my first cat. She’s 5 months old. I’ve only had her for 6 weeks, but we’ve been through a lot already. I got her from a reputable cat rescue organization who made sure she’d been spayed, immunized, and treated for fleas before dropping her off at my house. They had found her on Christmas day and had named her Merry, but I changed her name to Kiwi because she’s brown on the outside and has green eyes. I’d heard that cats can tend to have an attitude and are not terribly affectionate, but Kiwi was all up in my face right away, and continues to be a sweet as she can be. I guess you could say we’ve bonded big time.
She’d been sneezing a lot, so I took her to a vet, who told me she had an ear infection, so I started giving her an antibiotic. When I took her back for a follow-up visit, I knew it was getting to be time to think about flea prevention again, and had planned to ask the vet about it. I was horrified when he told me she already had fleas. Since she never goes outside, she must have picked them up when I’d taken her to the cat rescue’s clinic for one last immunization. By the time I found out about it, my house was already infested with fleas. I’m a very clean person, so the thought of bugs in my house is hellacious. I’ve been in Florida for many years, which, in and of itself, means living in constant fear of insects, but I’ve always been pretty lucky and able to keep them away. Dealing with the fleas has been a nightmare. Home remedies like borax and diatomaceous earth failed epically. Finally, not wanting to be ground zero for the next worldwide outbreak of bubonic plague, I had my house professionally fumigated, and will have to do so again next week. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve run myself ragged vacuuming, mopping, and doing endless loads of laundry. I’ve moved out of my bedroom, and don’t know when, if ever, I’ll feel completely comfortable in my own home again.
But when I took Kiwi back to the vet for yet another follow-up on the persistent ear infection, he told me the fleas are the least of our problems. She now has something called rodent ulcers, which have nothing to do with rodents, but probably indicate a congenital disorder. It could be as serious as feline leukemia or AIDS, or it could be some other sort of auto-immune condition. The cat rescue people had already tested her for leukemia, but the vet said that if a cat is tested when very young, the results could come back negative when they’re really positive. So now she’s being tested again, and it will be a very long week before I know the results.
Needless to say, adopting this cat has been an emotional (not to mention expensive) ordeal, and it may be far from over. My friends who have cats can’t believe what I’m going through. “Get a cat,” they all said. “They’re so easy - you don’t have to worry about anything.”
There’s a bright spot to this story, though, which is the whole reason I’m posting this photo. When I first got Kiwi, I bought her a really nice fluffy bed. If they made this kind of bed for humans, I’d get one for myself. She didn’t like it, though, and wouldn’t go near it. I tried putting her toys in the bed, but she’d just grab the toys and run off. She likes all the toys I’ve given her except one - a little stuffed monkey, which I bought because I thought it was cute, but since it doesn’t do anything except just lie there (no bells or rattles), I guess she considered it rather dull. One day last week, when I was vacuuming like a maniac in the war against the fleas, I started thinking that maybe this whole thing had been a big mistake, and maybe I’m just not the kind of person who should have a pet. For the first time, I began to regret adopting Kiwi. She must have sensed my distress, because when I walked out of the bedroom to empty the vacuum cleaner for the thousandth time, there she was, lying in her bed, holding the monkey as if it were a little teddy bear. I was overcome with joy.
Whatever happens now, I hope I will become a better person for it. That was the whole idea behind getting a cat anyway. When I told my well-meaning but sometimes overly critical mother about Kiwi’s health issues, she said, “Boy, you really got a lemon.” Nope, I got a Kiwi.
Introducing Kiwi. ♥