Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Purpose of Cats

We have a cat.
(Courtesy of Danielle Bright Photography)
I'm not sure why.

You can ride a horse. You can walk a dog. What do you do with a cat?

Nothing. The cat does stuff with you. The cat makes you put out a box full of sand that she poops and pees in and you have to clean up. The cat jumps on your bed in the middle of the night to remind you that it will be morning in four short hours and you had better not forget to feed her. The cat sheds her unwanted fur on your couch and waits until you vacuum it, then sheds some more. The cat begs and begs to be fed, then promptly hacks up a hairball at your feet in gratitude. The cat turns her nose up at your love and affection, but jumps into your lap and sticks her tail in your face when you're caught up in a good book.

It makes you wonder why anyone loves cats.

I love cats. Ok, maybe not any cat, but I love our cat. I fell in love with her when she was brought into the animal hospital where I worked. She was a kitten, just days old, and one of our clients had found her and her two littermates at a construction site, motherless and hungry. The vet techs agreed to trade off taking the kittens home each night and bottlefeeding them, but despite their best efforts the kittens got sick and two of them died. The remaining kitten was put into the incubator at the animal hospital, her every need attended to. She managed to pull through where her siblings had not, and when it was clear that she would survive one of the vet techs named her Oot, short for One Out of Three.

The animal hospital became Oot's home. She was given a small kennel full of toys and every day the daughter of one of the vet techs would come and play with her (and, to Oot's dismay, bathe her). One day as I was working the front desk, she brought Oot up and handed her to me. Still a tiny kitten, Oot fit perfectly in my two hands, a little ball of soft gray fur with big, expressive gray eyes. I cooed and gushed over her and she lifted one white paw and daintily batted at my face. I fell in love right then and there.

Working at the animal hospital gave me many opportunities to bring home needy and unwanted animals, but I was still living at home at the time, and my dad's answer was always an emphatic, "No." I knew he would never agree to me bringing home another cat. So I didn't ask. I stowed her, mewling pitifully, into a cat carrier and drove her home, where I introduced her to my parents and promised that when I moved out, so did she.

I could almost feel little Oot's joy when I let her out of the carrier and, no longer a prisoner of the kennel, she romped and spun and rolled and played the way a kitten should. Well, a little more psychotic than a normal kitten, but I chalk that up to being imprisoned too long. Or maybe to getting too many baths. Either way, it was really cute the way she curled up and attacked her own back feet.

True to my word, when I married Mr. Brown Eyes Oot came to live in our apartment with us, where she spent most of her days hiding from Mr. Brown Eyes' cat, Critter.

Now she spends her days shedding, begging for food, and escaping from Baby Brown Eyes, who thinks she's the funnest toy he's ever seen. He'll chase her around the house, squealing in delight, reaching for her fur with his chubby little hands. Sometimes he actually manages to grab her tail but, instead of trying to bite him, she merely wails in agitation until one of us releases her. And then the chase begins again.

So I guess Oot does have a purpose after all.
Wasn't she just the cutest kitten ever?
She is still a brat, though,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

2 comments:

Kolena said...

Aw! Little Ootsy! She hates me. I still remember when you finally told Dad that you have a new pet. The look on his face when he said "what is it?" LOLOLOL!!

Rachel Kirkaldie said...

LOL, easier to ask forgiveness than permission, right?