Thursday, February 18, 2010

just the two of us

I have two cats, Rita and Skip. Skip is slightly older, an ex-barn cat from southern Illinois, low-key and moderately affectionate when he gets a chance, which he doesn't often because Rita is absolutely the biggest whore of a cat I've ever met. A feral cat in her past life, she will walk up to a complete stranger sitting on my couch, roll over and flash her belly and then put her head on their knee, purring loudly; she is completely shameless and more than a little dumb in that somehow adorable cat sort of way, and I think sometimes that the other feral cats must have taken pity on her because I can't imagine her surviving on the streets. Her nickname is Threesome Rita, because if there are two people in the apartment she will inevitably wriggle her guileless way in between them, regardless of what they may be (ahem) doing. If I have a dinner party or whatever she gets to be Orgy Rita, and I swear she's in kitty heaven.

Also, she's afraid of hats

Rita's hard to not love--sort of--but she's also negatively impacted my relationship with Skip; every time he comes over for some mutual semi-introvert love, Rita runs over as fast as she can and insinuates herself between us because god forbid she miss any opportunity to be petted. It drives me crazy and has led to me sneaking my pets in with Skip when she's otherwise occupied, which is just sad. On top of that, I'm starting to think that the energy I put into both paying attention to her and rebuffing her advances is becoming rather overwhelming; it sounds silly, perhaps, but part of the reason I moved into my own apartment is because I wanted my own space and Rita is almost constantly pushing that bubble. She keeps me up at night, and she wakes me up in the morning, and in between she's always there, trying to get in between me and my computer, book, dinner, or whatever else I might be engaged in. All of this while looking disarmingly cute and hopeful, like maybe this time the petting will take and she'll finally feel satisfied and be able to take a nap.

The long and short of this is that I've been seriously considering taking Rita back where I got her from, the absolutely fabulous Tree House, a cage-free kill-free shelter conveniently within walking distance of my apartment. When I adopted her just over a year ago I was told that I could always bring her back, no matter when or why. It's become a moral dilemma, though, because she really hasn't done anything wrong or bad; she just wants love. And don't we all? Even if I feel like she would better have her needs met by, say, an old person who wanted to constantly pet a cat--which is not, I have discovered, what I constantly want to do--or a family with small children (Rita is incredibly gentle, has never scratched me intentionally, and doesn't scratch even when provoked), it feels shitty to me to say that I just don't have enough to give her. I keep imagining walking her over to the shelter, saying something along the lines of "This adorable and loving cat is driving me up the wall, and I think you could find her a better home than I could", and then leaving her there and never seeing her again, and I just don't know if I can do it.

So we'll see. I want to decide in the next week or two; advice will be considered, so feel free to offer any thoughts. I imagine a Rita-free apartment and it just feels so... peaceful. And I do think she'd be happier elsewhere, someplace where more pettings are in the offing. I suspect that soon, as soon as I can get over my perhaps misplaced guilt, it will be just the two of us here once again.


Anonymous said...

Aw. Wow. On the one hand, I totally see how that could get annoying to have this attention whore kitty hogging all of your attention. All the time. Everywhere. And taking it away from the other cat.

On the other hand, as kitty-mommy to a cat who has enough petting after about two seconds (at which point, he starts trying to gnaw off my hand or rip a nice hole in my arm), I think Rita sounds absolutely darling.

Then again, I am the real life equivalent of Elmyra Duff from Tiny Toons - so maybe that's why my cat has grown weary of my affection.

I think you have to do what you feel is best for the cat. If she's becoming a source of stress for you, after awhile she is going to feel that stress herself. And at least you can be sure that, if you do return her to Tree House, she will probably be adopted. I mean, a cat who wants love is pretty hard to resist to cat lovers.

Alicia Dabney said...

I completely understand your position, and I went through a similar struggle of guilt and what-ifs when I had to face a few facts about my bengal's happiness in an urban apartment with a young child that was taking all of my time. Inevitably, he went to live with my Dad where I get to see him when I visit and where he can run around in larger spaces with other kitties (which we cannot do because of Nathan's allergies).

The end point here is that I think you are wise and thoughtful, and I know you will give this the consideration it deserves, and that whatever you decide in the end will be what you feel is the best decision. Sometimes the hardest things to do are the best things in the long run. It may be difficult to get over the guilt, or to think of that moment when you might actually let go of her for the last time, but avoiding those two things is also not a reason to just keep her when, perhaps, there is another heart out there that has more space and time (and one less cat) to split attention with.


ShanaRose said...

For what it's worth, I think Alicia's (and Louise is) dead on in their assertions. Thoughtfully doing the best thing for you will probably translate into doing the best thing for her.