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Trouble with Tribbles

>> Monday, May 24, 2010

My husband has a problem.  It has to do with fluffy tiger tuxedo cats.

The first time around, it was Maxfield (a.k.a. "Smacky").  We were happy at the time with our one-cat-one-dog household, particularly because we were living in a rented 700 square foot townhouse with a lease that prohibited us from getting any more pets.

My husband, unbeknownst to me, became fixated on a cute fluffy little stray with a lot of attitude that had been wandering the neighborhood.  One morning he woke me up with a cup of coffee as a bribe, and said, "You know that little fluffy tiger cat that's been hanging around?"  I replied, "Yeeees..."  He responded, "I, um, let him in.  He's in the downstairs bathroom."

And we had acquired Maxfield.

I admit his little fuzzy lion face peering in the back door must have been hard to resist.  He was cute as a button, and insistent on coming in.  But poor Max had had a hard life before he found us.  We suspect he'd been abused, as he was terribly afraid of quick movements of any kind, particularly if you had anything in your hand.  He was also terrified - and I mean unbelievably terrified - of dogs.  And, unlike some cats who get skittish and shy when afraid, Max was an attack cat.  He acquired the nickname "Smacky" because he smacked everyone.  A lot.

Max spent the first 6 months with us living by himself in the spare bedroom.  If he was left on his own in there he was fine - affectionate and calm.  As soon as we left the door open and gave him the ability to roam the house, he'd get panicky and aggressive.

It took months of patience, and a whole lot of scars for all of us before Smacky settled into our household.  He did, finally, although he never trusted our dog Clancy, who was such a sweet soul that he just learned to avert his nose and never make eye contact with the fuzzy devil cat.

Crazily enough, I loved that cat.  Sometimes the more work a pet takes, the more I wind up loving them in the end.

A little love nibble:

Unfortunately Smacky had a too-short life.  We had him for perhaps 2 years when he developed repeated urinary blockages, and there was nothing we could do to make them stop.  We tried everything, including changes in food and even surgery to essentially turn the little guy into a girl so that the crystals wouldn't block his ureter.  It didn't work.  Within weeks scar tissue had occluded the opening again, and we had to put him to sleep.  Poor Smacky.  I still miss him.

Sooooo, my husband has done it again.  Fluffy, tiger, and tuxedo.  This time, it's Pippin.

You remember this little fellow?

He's been hanging about for the last few months.  We believe he's the offspring of two of the local feral cats: his papa is a ballsy little cat we call King Friday, and his mama is our sort-of cat Rocky's sister.  (We do our best to look out for Rocky, but he's a wild thing.  We've never been able to capture him even to get him neutered.  He continues to roam the neighborhood lookin' for love, and drops by only on occasion.  I still have hopes of snagging him and getting him snipped, but recognize it's a bit of a long shot.  He was too old and too wild when we tried to befriend him, and he remains extremely skittish with only very sporadic visits.)

My husband cannot resist this little kitten he's dubbed Pippin.  Is it the tiger or the tuxedo or the combination of the two?  My spouse, the same spouse who complains that I have a bad habit of acquiring cats, has been spending great amounts of time and energy coaxing the little fellow toward the house, getting him comfortable with petting.

In personality, he's frightfully like Max.  He's got the same kind of incredibly brave, not-intimidated-by-anything attitude, although thankfully no one has ever been mean to Pippin and he's exhibited no aggression of any kind.  He's feisty, stands his grounds with my spastic dogs, and isn't afraid of Tucker.

He spends much of his time flirting with my girl kitties through the window screens.  While Sneakers wants nothing to do with him and hisses at him, Wednesday, who is spayed, purrs and yowls like she's in heat when she sees Pippin.  Methinks she has a crush on the handsome devil.  She's been spending all her time trying to escape the house so she can roll around with him in the dirt under the neighbor's porch.

Although a couple of months ago Pippin was a wildly skittish kitten, he now comes when he's called and follows my husband around like a little shadow.  Amazing what can happen when you catch feral cats young enough.

Saturday morning, I caved.  After watching my husband scoop the little guy up and nuzzle him while Pippin blissfully rubbed his jowls against my husband's scruffy chin and purred like he was going to vibrate into pieces, I resigned myself to the fact that we have a new cat.  I fed the scrawny thing a good meal, and we called our vet and scheduled his first checkup, his first shots, and his neutering.  He made his first foray into the house this afternoon.

Good God, that makes 4 cats, plus our two awful Basset hounds.

My closest friend in law school was this wonderful woman who, along with her husband, had 2 dogs and 6 cats, all rescues.  My husband and I used to chuckle and shake our heads about how crazy they were for having so many pets.

Okay, universe or karma or whatever you're called, I cry Uncle!  I apologize for laughing at that wonderful couple.  You can stop sending us pets who need homes now.  No, really, you can.  I get the point!


Ellen Rathbone May 24, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

My first cat was a Pippin, too! He actually lived with me at BLNC that summer you were a camper there. Small world. Only he was black. And a stray. He passed away about five years ago at the ripe old age of about 18.

Woodswalker May 24, 2010 at 11:15 PM  

They say you're allowed to have up to three cats before you're considered to be a bit crazy. So yeah, you've gone over the edge. But who wouldn't, for such a darling little kitty? Good luck with your new family member, and thanks for your kindness to needy creatures.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire May 25, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

Ellen, apparently Pippin is a good cat name. :)

And LOL, Jackie, I officially crossed into crazy pet lady territory long ago. You should see the expressions on people's faces when I tell them how many pets we have... and that was before Pippin!

Sneaksleep June 1, 2010 at 2:17 PM  

Don't laugh, but I was just about to send you an "exploratory" email to see how you'd feel about adding two front-declawed cats to your menagerie. But don't worry, now I won't. Four cats and two dogs (even if one of the cats does spend most of his time outdoors) is more than enough for any household!

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