Let me begin this week’s piece by stating for the record: I am a dog person.

Nothing personal, feline fanciers. It’s just that I grew up with dogs. Aside from a relatively short gap until my youngest child was old enough to have one in the house and not get knocked flying by canine excitement, I have always had a dog or two by my side. Pupper powered, that’s me.

So, it is with no small amount of wonder that I find myself in possession of a cat. (See, you’re laughing at my naivete already, because you know it’s the other way around.)

I blame my children, obviously. Not content with the chaos of a four-child, two-dog household, they wanted another fur kid. After months of campaigning on their part — and one of them fulfilling a promise to go volunteer at the local shelter to learn cat care — I finally relented.

Getting a cat was a ridiculously complicated (compliCATed?) task. Not the actual acquisition part, but the preparing for it. It turns out, you see, that there are approximately 1532 different kinds of kitty litter on the market. Dustless, clumping, clay, silicon, multi-cat, the variations were endless and bewildering. And most of them absolutely loaded with perfume. We went through four boxes of the stuff before we found one that didn’t make me a) want to rub my eyes off, b) make me cough, or c) make me want to die. I can only imagine what that much scent was doing to the critters of the house.

Then came the question of where to locate the stupid litter box. Our house is open-plannish, which seemed like a great idea … until it came time to locate what amounts to an open toilet. Keeping it in a bathroom was out of the question because one of our dogs is stupid and likes to swipe and eat stupid things, including toilet paper rolls. So bathroom doors must stay closed, for the sake of my carpets and my vet bills.

After a brief stint in the master bedroom (see option C, above), we found out that “cat litter box enclosures” were a thing, and so spent an extraordinary amount of money on a lovely walnut coloured wooden cabinet that looks as nice as anything you’d find in an antique shop.

Have I mentioned we haven’t gotten around to finishing the renovations to our own bathroom yet? Yes, it’s true. The cat has a nicer water closet than I do.

After that, the next big hurdle was: training. Not the cat, obviously. Because we wanted this to be an indoor cat (cats kill something like 2.4 billion song birds yearly in the US alone) this meant teaching teenagers this weird thing called keeping the doors closed. As you can imagine, this was a stressful time for us all, and yes, I am accepting donations of gin, thanks for asking.

The actual picking out of cat was super simple. Because the kids had decided calico was the cat’s meow, and we had ‘an in’ at the shelter, we knew there was one available. My son introduced me, and the cat immediately head bonked the cage and curled upside down for pats and scritches. Yes, dear reader, I admit it: those big round eyes and 48-decibel purrs sealed the deal.

Of course, it didn’t hurt her chances that the cat in the cage below was reaching out and actively trying to murder me. Which, I’m told, is a perfectly normal cat thing to do, but, uh, sleeping with one eye open is not my jam.

And so all of this is to say that Sherbie has joined the chat. We’ve had her about six months now, and, well… it’s been interesting. My next piece will either be titled “Things I Have Learned (The Hard Way) About Cats” or “The Adventures of The Bloody Cat and the Damn Dogs.” For now, you can enjoy the picture, which clearly shows all the grace and wonder that is felis catus.


    • Sandra Woodall

    • 3 months ago

    Please read the book “Good Owners, Great Cats”. That’s what I did when I got a cat and realized I knew nothing about them. The book is an easy read and may save you a boatload of “learn by experience” pain.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely check it out.

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