Sunday, December 23, 2012

How We Avoided the Apocalypse

Friday morning Apocalypse/Solstice gchat conversation:
bustaarmov: Two women, one who looks exactly like Razorslut came to the door. Watchtower people. I forget what religion that is. As soon as they mentioned Christmas and Jesus, I pulled the "We Jewish, and we don't believe in Jesus. Well, we believe he existed, just not believe, believe. Thanks for stopping by."
me: Jehovah's Witnesses.
bustaarmov: I should say, "And hebrew does not have a "J".
you should tell Razor about her JW doppleganger.
bustaarmov: They're always so nice and well groomed.
I should have taken a picture.
me: I see them walking around the neighborhood sometimes when I'm out on the bicycle or skating. 
bustaarmov: I should have handed them a cat flier.
me: YES
bustaarmov: Goddamn early morning mush brain.
me: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?" "I will if he brings me my goddam cat back! Here's a flier. Get on it!"
"No cat, no Jesus!" 
"PS, the cat's name is LouC Fur."
bustaarmov: HAHAHAHA!
I wish I was that quick thinking.

That conversation proved prophetic.

Now is the time I must sideline my own storytelling, as this will play into what happens when I get home from work that evening.

 When we visited the animal shelter while looking for LouC, the Dear Husband floated the idea that no matter whether we find LouC or not, we should think about breaking a kitty out of Animal Shelter Death Row. Paying it forward, he called it. I moodily agreed to go to the shelter to check out a cat the DH had liked the first time he went there. A cat named Pickle.

We met Pickle. Pickle did not care much for me, so we passed on him. We continued to wander around and look at other cats. I was not struck by any strong feelings one way or another, but continued to pet the various cats in one of the shelter's day rooms. One of them rolled over onto his back, and purred when I rubbed his belly. I thought he was cute, but didn't turn into a big pile of goo or anything. But while I was rubbing his belly, I noticed a soft lump. I brought it to the attention of one of the volunteers, who took the cat back to the shelter's examination room. A few minutes later we discover the lump on the cat's belly is a hernia.

When an animal is discovered to need surgery, like this little guy, the shelter won't arrange to have the surgery done so that the animal can be placed out for adoption all healthy and ready to go. Nope, they put the animal to sleep right away, because they don't have the budget to rehabilitate the animal. So basically I doomed this cat to death because I was the one who found the hernia. OH, GREAT. 

Of course the DH and I immediately turn to each other and ask, NOW WHAT?! I said, I don't know if I can handle this cat. The DH solemnly nods. We then came up with the idea of seeing how much surgery would be for the little guy, pay for it, and then he could end up being adopted by someone else. 

We went to the shelter people and asked if that was possible. Their response was one of confusion...apparently people don't generally ask that. They went off to see what could be done for the cat. In the meantime, we sat and stewed. 

After about 15 minutes of sitting, waiting, and talking to each other about the cat, we came around to the conclusion to just adopt the damn cat and immediately take him to our vet, because waiting around was getting tedious. I remember thinking that we're doing the right thing at the wrong time.

We got this guy:

The shelter called him, "Blackie". What a dumb name! We paid $20 for him and immediately took him to the vet. No surgery that day; we'd have to wait until midweek.  But we found out that he's quite young; maybe a year old. He's eight pounds of cuteness. He is well-versed in escaping, and we quickly discovered how well he blends into the house furnishings, so we renamed him Houdini. That name totally fits.

In the meantime, we continued to make fliers and wander our neighborhood for LouC. It was getting to the point where we were going out of our way to take the streets where LouC was allegedly last seen every time we left the house. We continued to be upset and depressed about his disappearance...not even Houdini's ridiculous levels of cute could take those dark feelings away.

So, back to Friday's Solstice/Apocalyptic nightmare...

I had taken the Metro to work on Friday because I wanted to avoid the batshit-crazy holiday traffic. It failed on my way home, because the Metro was experiencing maintenance issues, then I almost got squished on the bicycle on Venice Blvd. because there were trash cans, cars, and open car doors blocking the bike path, forcing me into traffic several times. I was a MESS when I got home. A cranky, overwrought MESS.

As I stormed into the house with mp3 player earbuds still firmly entrenched in my ears with music blaring, I noticed the DH was in the living room holding a black cat. I assumed he was holding Houdini. I stomped past him and started throwing down my backpack and bicycle gloves as the DH was talking. I finally ripped out the earbuds and yelled, I CAN'T FUCKING HEAR YOU. I HAD THE SHITTIEST COMMUTE HOME EVER! and the DH said, Listen! so I replied, NO, YOU LISTEN! I ALMOST GOT KILLED IN THE BIKE LANE COMING HOME AND IT'S REALLY UPSETTING! The DH sighs and yells, LOOK AT THE CAT!

That's when I realized he wasn't holding Houdini, HE WAS HOLDING LOUC.


I immediately burst into tears, dropped everything I had in my hands, and hugged a skinny, filthy, annoyed LouC. 

The DH told me that he got a phone call around 5pm from a lady in Santa Monica who sounded hesitant about asking if we were missing a cat. When the DH replied that we were, she said, I think I have your cat. He's black, right? The DH affirmed that yes indeed, we were missing a black cat, and after a few more minutes of roundabout chatting, he got the lady's address and drove over as fast as he could to her house. When he pulled up, she was in front of her house, holding LouC in her arms.

Apparently LouC has been eating her cat's food in her yard for a couple of days, but was so skittish she couldn't get close enough to him to see if he had a tag until Friday. She was finally able to sneak up on him while he was eating her cat's food and got our phone number off his tag. We have no idea how he got as far as he did without getting smooshed on the city streets; there's a couple of streets that have cars flying down them at almost all hours of the day and night. We have no idea how he managed the rain and cold weather. We have no idea about anything else in his adventures. We only know he's OK and he's back home.

Here's a map of how far he traveled:

I immediately took him to the vet, where we found out that LouC weighed in at seven pounds. He lost a LOT of weight out there; in his prime he was around eighteen pounds, and in the last year he'd dwindled to around ten or eleven pounds. But other than the weight loss and dehydration, he was healthy!

So now we have two black cats in the house. LouC has been ignoring everything that doesn't have to do with eating, sleeping, or being petted. Houdini is hyper and playing with just about everything he can get his little paws on. His hernia surgery went well and he doesn't even need the Cone of Shame to keep him from bothering with the surgery incision. His greatest enemy is a cat toy that looks like a fishing pole with a wad of denim at the end of a piece of string. He's determined to conquer it. LouC doesn't care, he's seen the Big World out there, and is just content to rest after his big adventures.

Monday, December 17, 2012

She Done Him Wrong

Damn that box of cat litter.

Last Tuesday, December 11 is one of the worst days of my life. All because of a box of cat litter that spilled in the back of the Dear Husband's car.

The DH had run errands, including getting the cat litter. When he got home, he found the litter had spilled all over the trunk of his new car. So he pulled the car into the driveway, went into the garage, got the ShopVac, and vacuumed out the car. As he finished up, our cat LouC was in the backyard, meowing and wanting to be fed. The DH absent-mindedly patted him on the head as he walked by him to the driveway to put his car back in front of the house. In the process of doing so, the backyard gate didn't get closed all the way.

That's when LouC vanished.

The DH didn't notice for about fifteen minutes, then he searched the usual spots: the front yard and the neighbors' yards. No panic at first, because come on, we're talking about an eighteen-year-old cat that has never run away before. Besides, he has a name tag on him, so if someone else found him, they'd just call us and tell us to get our cat.

But LouC wasn't to be found. I got an annoyed text message from the DH saying that LouC wandered off. We both figured he'd saunter back when he got hungry enough.

We figured wrong.

He couldn't have gone far. He's never been away from home before like this. We thought he wouldn't have gone beyond the block we live on.

We thought wrong.

I made a flier Tuesday night and we ended up printing about 500 copies to put on everyone's doorstep in the area. On Wednesday night, we canvassed the neighborhood in the cold drizzle, calling his name and leaving more fliers in a wider circle of panic and distress. On Thursday we got a couple of calls from a couple of neighbors on the next block. LouC was spotted in a yard Tuesday night, but wouldn't come to them when they called to him. He melted into the bushes. That's the last time anyone has seen him.

Fliers have been put up in local pet stores and vet offices. A craigslist ad went up. Trips to the local animal shelter happened. Posts on Facebook were made. The weather got more cold and wet, and the house was also colder and more empty than it ever was. My heart was heavy, my brain racing with thoughts of where could LouC be at that moment?

The week before LouC left, the neighborhood was fliered with a warning: there may be someone killing neighborhood cats, so keep yer kitties inside. After our fliers went out, the lady who made the warning flier talked to the DH and told him about cats disappearing, some turning up dead, some never to be found dead or alive. So obviously, all I can imagine is that LouC was grabbed up, tortured, and killed. I cry every time I think about that. I'm crying now as I type this paragraph.

That possible fate is what convinces me that I failed LouC.

Was he mad at us? Was he curious about the world and just took a chance to explore? Is he cold? Is he scared? Is he hungry and thirsty? Did a cat lady find him and is keeping him because she assumes his owners were negligent? Did he do what old animals sometimes do and wandered off to die? My mind races with the possible fate of LouC, most of those fates are horrible, and I hate that I can think of inhuman things that a person can do to a cat.

Not knowing is the worst.

The first night LouC was gone, I had a difficult time getting to sleep. But at some point after I drifted off, I woke up, practically shivering with cold. There was a voice that wasn't mine in my mind at that cold. So, SO cold...

Then it faded away, as did the cold feeling.


Not knowing is the fucking worst.

I was supposed to take care of him his whole life. HIS WHOLE LIFE. I can't while he's gone, and it's gutting me.

On Thursday the DH insisted on returning the box of cat litter that started this heart-rending chain of events. It's cursed! he said. I didn't argue. 

Hearing stories about other people's lost cats are as varied as the cats themselves, and I don't know if LouC will be showing up a week, two weeks, three weeks from now, skinny and annoyed, but alive. I hope he's one of the lucky ones that do. He's my guy, my handsome fellow. 

Until then, I hope. And cry. I cry an awful lot.