I FreeCycled Gus.
This morning as we were preparing for school, Allie announces, "I can't believe you FreeCycled a living creature."
To this I have no reply. It's true. I did FreeCycle a living creature. I attempted it once already, a few months back, after finally admitting out loud that I just couldn't stand Gus anymore. I am a tolerant cat person. Or so I thought. Allie had talked me into envisioning Gus as an older, fatter, a much, much cooler cat. A vision, mind you, based on a previous discussion about Gus. Allie's smart but she can't come up with such a forethought on her own. Not yet.
Wait a minute. Why do I feel the need to discount something clever said by my daughter? Maybe because I need to feel smarter than her in something. Consider my experience with her last night as I was supposedly helping her with decimal and fraction homework.
Flashback to me crying my eyes out, thumping my head - praying for unconsciousness - on the desk, as my dad questions my inherent inability to conceptualize any aspect of math. Period.
When we first brought Gus home I was up in the night every three hours like a nursing mother, helping him find his food or litter box. Aiding his attempts to jump to our bed with his undying need to cuddle, letting him suckle my arm as I stroked him like a new momcat. Even then I was all Are you KIDDING ME?? I couldn't take Gus's meowing. Incessant. He started off needier than anticipated, and although I tried really hard, I could not for the life of me accept this as ok. In addition to the ongoing chorus of meows, Gus would do other despicable things; like the licking me as he kneaded bit.
Some describe this as normal cat behavior, especially after they'd been weaned too young. This is likely as he was so itty-bitty when we rescued his demise from the shelter. Anticipating future interaction with cats, I now find nothing more disgusting than a sand dollar-sized wet ring on any portion of my clothing. The only cat characteristic more disgusting was my friend Liz's cat Lloyd who did the get-up-in-yo-face-as-you-caress-me...can't-get-close-enough...I-now-want-to-crawl-into-you...become-part-of-you cat routine. No wonder Italians think cats steal the breath of babies.
I think Lloyd wound up stowing away in a moving truck once and wound up in Louisiana.
I would hear people describe their cats waking them up early in the morning to feed them, curling around their necks to cuddle. I would observe other people's cats leaping into laps, immediately snuggling. The cat I've been used to in my adult life does not possess these catlike characteristics. Chloe has always been a very mild mannered, twinkle-toes type of cat. It'll take Chloe ten minutes before she finds the right spot to curl up on someone's lap, or no maybe that lap. No, a leg. No, actually next to the lap. Nope. Onto the floor she goes. This indecisiveness used to irritate me. Now I'd have nothing else.
Other cat enthusiasts would visit and Gus, being the outgoing little soul that he is, would immediately pounce onto their laps. More often than not, forcing a visitor to PET ME NOW! Because in Gus's world, you are there to PET ME NOW! My father, cat enthusiast extraordinaire, patronizingly reminding me That's what cat's do, Emily.
So this is what Emily heard herself saying over and over again, stifling the true need to cast off this new family member. Enduring Jon's ongoing criticisms of how bad the bathroom stunk because of Gus would be resentfully absorbed, only knowing deep down he had to go. Sweeping up deserts of cat litter, as if someone had delivered an order of sand from Home Depot. All over the bathroom floor. And I didn't order it. I'm not filling anything right now.
Feeding Gus daily because for some reason he was too good to eat the crumbs of the cat food HE CREATED by chewing with his mouth open. Chloe? She doesn't do that. I feed her once every few days. Which, I am reminded, is not normal cat behavior. Chloe is my normal. She completes me.
The kitchen. My countertops. He was getting onto the counter tops. Even when I didn't catch him, I'd see his little paw prints on the clean stovetop. This, dear readers, is inexcusable to any cat person. And if it isn't? You're probably the prototype for this.
To the hardware store we went for the classic conditioning tool: The Squirt Bottle.
However, my friends, this cat, after 5 months of catching and spraying, spraying and catching, this degenerative behavior did not stop in the kitchen. Next was the dining room table where we eat. Gus would steal a jump or sneakily climb from chair to table to QUICK! GET THAT INVISIBLE MORSEL OF FOOD!! He just wouldn't get it. I thought we domesticated these ravaging beasts.
Humor me. You're following my steadily vanishing appreciation for this animal, yes?
The crumbs the kids left behind were no longer sufficient. Gus was caught, white pawed, molesting a bag of Pirate's Booty. We began assuming a colony of rats had moved in, claiming our bread supply as their mess hall. Remember those paw prints decorating the stovetop? Led us straight to Gus, munching away entire loaves of unopened bread. Gnawed through the plastic. The crispy crusty tops gone. Nothing but shredded plastic and a few discarded nuts left behind. I haven't even entertained you with the image of him at the dog dish. He's there more than Daisy.
Again, these other cat owners? Those monthly subscribers to Cat Fancy? Their reply, Oh yeah. My cat does that too. You have to keep the bread in your fridge.
Really? Because I don't want to do that. I already make exceptions for two-legged life forms.
The other day I hustled Gus off as: "8-month-old neutered, litter box trained, front de-clawed male kitten is looking for a new
home. He'd do great on a farm. Food dishes and litter box provided!" Food dishes PROVIDED?? Gee, says the new owner. As if he needs those.
Note: He'd do great on a farm. Replies began almost as quickly as the post was posted.
He was picked up today by a mother of two whose current cat is old and almost ready to pass. She described them as currently having a fish and a mouse. The older cat, she says, pays them no attention. To which I warned her of Gus's mischievous ways. As I handed off Gus to his new owner, I reminded her of the No Return Policy.
With lingering sadness in my heart, I think I'll give Chloe her dose of anti-depressants and get the loaf of bread out of the refrigerator and put it back where it belongs.
Wednesday, January 16
I FreeCycled Gus.