Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cat Angst

I've taken ownership of  the cat.
As you can see, I've got him all packed up and ready to go. Actually, no, that's just the cat taking ownership of my daughter's accordion case. Anything that looks like something he shouldn't be in is something he decides he wants to be in.

But back to my original statement: I've taken ownership of the cat. Not that I know what I would do if the technical owner showed up at my door tomorrow and said he wanted the cat back. I suppose I could say, "Let's leave it up to the cat" (because I'm sure the cat would pick me, since,  in effect, he already has), but I don't know if that's a thing with pets like it is with kids.

See, although the cat clearly wants to live with us and has been living with us for quite some time, it still fills me with angst knowing that there's some guy in the neighborhood that is the technical owner of the cat. The fact that he could, theoretically, knock on my door and break my daughter's heart fills me with all sorts of angst over the whole cat issue and what we should do about  the cat. But no more.

As of today, I'm declaring the cat ours. Sort of like planting a flag. See, now, I've had to spend money on the cat, real money, and if I'm going to have to take the cat to the vet for medical attention, the cat is mine. That's just all there is to it.

Let me explain:

A few weeks ago as we were walking out the door to go somewhere, the cat came limping up with a swollen left shoulder. It looked rather like someone had stuffed an orange in  there, but that wasn't the first time the cat had hurt himself, and we had somewhere we had to be, so we let him in and left. The swelling had gone down by the time we got home, so that was good. We did see, at that point, that he had some kind of wound in his shoulder.

There's an orange tabby cat in the neighborhood that is the neighborhood cat bully. He likes to stand over other cats making this horrible meowing, pinning them down. He does this without actually touching them, but I've had to rescue Jack (my cat) from him several times, and I've seen him keeping other cats hiding under cars or against walls or whatever. We don't like this cat, and I think it and Jack may have gotten into a scrape that resulted in Jack's wound. That or the dead gopher Jack left as an offering for us (and, yes, they are actually offerings) managed to bite Jack before he partially skinned it.

But Jack didn't "belong" to us, so I decided to just keep an eye on the wound in the hopes that the actual owner might show that he was still keeping an eye out on the cat and do something about it. But that didn't happen.

Still, the wound seemed to be healing up just fine. Jack quit licking it all the time, and it had closed up and everything. Until a couple of days ago.

This may be coincidence, but Jack and The Orange (my name for the bully cat) had another go at it. The Orange was making his horrible noise, and I went out to see what was going on, and The Orange had Jack trapped up against the gate to our backyard. I got in between them, and Jack took off toward the car (where he often hides from The Orange), but The Orange went for him, and Jack turned around and took a swipe at him. Good for him, right?

So, maybe, the cats went at it, and Jack's wound got reopened. Or, maybe, it was just itching because it was healing. We don't really know what started it, but Jack started licking at it again and licked all the hair off of it and the surrounding area. It was pretty gross, but the wound was smaller than the nail on my pinky finger, so, again, I thought we should just keep an eye on it.

Today, though, something changed in all of that. The wound broke open, doubling in size, and was actively oozing. I don't know if he scratched or licked it open or if he got into another fight or what. It was fine when he left the house this morning, but, when he came back in around 2:00, it was a mess.

That was the end of the angst. I took ownership of the cat and took him to the vet. He got all kinds of shots (both immunizations and an antibiotic) and a couple of staples in his shoulder.
I figure for $300, the cat is mine. Especially since he has to go back in two weeks and again in four weeks. The good news is that the vet said he's a strong, healthy cat. In fact, everyone was admiring him. The cat has got some charisma is all I can say; after all, he got me to like him. I mean actively like him, not just kind of like him in that way I like most animals.

And here's the allegory:
A lot of things in life are like Jack. There are these things out there, situations or whatever, that someone else should have responsibility for. However, for whatever reason, those people won't take responsibility for whatever it is. Maybe, they just don't care. Or care enough. Or, maybe, there are some sort of extenuating circumstances. Who knows. In the end, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that, if it's something you care about, you take responsibility for it. Just do it. Don't wait for someone else to step up to the plate and do the job. Most of the time, if you're waiting for that happen, you're just going to be disappointed.

Let's look back at the situation with Jack:
Initially, it was apparent that the cat was just out on his own nearly all of the time. He wasn't really being cared for. That included being fed on a regular basis. Whether this was the fault of the cat not going home to eat or the fault of the "owner" not providing food, doesn't really matter. Now, we didn't know if the cat had an owner at the time, so we started slipping him so food, but, even after we found out who the owner was, it was clear the cat was still going unfed. Eventually, it was also clear that the cat only ever stayed at or around our house. We took on the feeding responsibility because the cat was (is) important to my daughter. It was something that needed to be done, and no one else was doing it or doing it adequately. All of that lead to us taking care of the cat's wound. Because someone had to do it. The person that should have been responsible didn't do the job. Because we care about the cat and don't want him to die from something that is completely preventable, we took care of it.

And that's kind of how life needs to be. People need to pick up the responsibility for the things they care about and quit waiting for other people to do it. Even if those other people are the people that ought to be doing it. Sometimes, those things are even our things. Things that we ought to be responsible for, things we say we care about, but we're too busy waiting around to see if someone else will come along and do them for us. Those things can cause all sorts of angst.

It felt good to actually say, "You know what, I'm taking responsibility for this cat. This cat is now mine." No more angst. So, if you have a Jack in your life, pick him up and take responsibility for him. Scratch him under the chin and listen to him purr.
The cat also plays the piano.


  1. Betadine! It's like iodine only twice as expensive, but it's saved me many trips to the vet. A little dab while the wound is new..
    The truth is a lot of people treat animals like an inconvenient responsibility. I've been involved in too many of these situations before! Even my two kitties now are the result of me hopping a fence and rescuing them from freezing to death when they were a day old. Good for you for stepping up and taking care of biz, that cat is definitely yours.

  2. Once you've plunged money into an animal, he's yours. (Actually that process starts the moment you name him.)
    I've always cared about animals and don't understand the way some people treat them. An animal isn't a possession. It's a living creature. It's like a child.
    Of course, there are people who don't take care of their kids either.

  3. So true Alex. I am totally unable to understand such people.

    He's definitely your cat now. Why Jack?

  4. Awww such a great story of pet rescue and I agree with the others, he is yours now. If someone really cared they would have been going to door to door the first day and posters up in the neighborhood.

  5. That cat is yours Andrew. I doubt the idiot who owned him gives a fig about the poor thing, elsewise he would have been frantic when it went missing.

    It's a good thing you've done here as animals need love just like we do.

  6. First, I read through the Star Wars Christmas post that I'd missed earlier. I am SO jealous of all those things. I had a great Christmas, but not a STAR WARS Great Christmas, so you won this round, Andrew Leon.

    On the cat post: I don't know what makes people take in stray cats, but kudos to you for doing so. I would not, but I am not a nice person.

    I think having invested money in the cat you probably can claim some moral ownership. I'm not giving legal advice here as I have NO idea what the CA laws are on the subject. Here in Wisconsin, pets are property and if you lost your pet I'd imagine that eventually it would escheat to the state.

    But that's not the point. The point is not that our governor technically owns all the lost cats in Wisconsin. That's cool to think about but not the point.

    Here is the point: My sister, who also lives in California, had a cat a while back that would disappear for days on end and then come back. One day, she was out walking around and she came across her cat, in the backyard of a neighbor's house. She stopped to pet him and tell him he should come home because people who own cats believe the cat listens to them.

    As she was doing that, her neighbor came out and said "I see you know Sharkey," which was weird because that was not the cat's name.

    It turned out that "Sharkey" the cat had been living half the time with the neighbors and half the time with my sister, and they continued that arrangement informally after that, but she changed the cat's name to "Sharkey."

    The point? "Sharkey" is a cool name for a cat, so cool that I've remembered it for years.

    Wait, I think I screwed that up.

    Congrats on your owning a new cat.

  7. Nicely done with the allegory, there. I like it a lot. And well-woven into a rather touching story. That cat is yours.

  8. That is so wonderful of you to do that for the cat. You are a kind human being to care for the poor thing that was suffering.

  9. Winopants: I think every dog I've ever owned was a cast away. The cat fits right in.

    Alex: Yeah, that's true. We've actually taken some of those in from time to time, too.

    Jo: Why Jack as in why is his name Jack?

    G_G: Oh, I met the guy once. He was completely unconcerned with the fact that the cat never went home.

    Anne: Yes, yes, they do.

    Briane: Oh, wait till next year! (I say that now.)
    I'm not a taking in strays kind of person, actually. Which is not to say that I haven't done that with dogs a couple of time, but it was always with the point of finding the owner and, then, being unable to do so. However, I've never had a cat and never intended to have one. Honestly, if the cat hadn't made friends with my dog (and then my daughter), we would never have started letting it into the house.

    Sharkey is a cool name for a cat.

    Jericha: Thank you!

    Michael: Well, you know, I couldn't bear the thought of my daughter being sad if something bad happened to it.

  10. Yes, it seems a somewhat odd name for a cat somehow.

  11. The first thing that came to my mind was how my wife refuses to eat Chinese food. Now I lost my appetite as well. I have been craving Chinese food of late though. I did get a good dose of it last Saturday when we went to the Pechanga Casino and ate at the buffet. The Chinese food was only a small portion of the buffet otherwise my wife would have never eaten there.

    The thing that amazed me is your daughter plays the accordion? I thought the only people that still played accordion were Weird Al and those guys in Mexican corrida bands and Germans in polka bands.

    Accordion is so cool. I wish I had learned to play one. It used to be a very popular instrument when I was a kid. Now the accordion classic "Lady of Spain" is running through my head.

    Tossing It Out

  12. I'm a big fan of you taking in cats - we've got tons of feral ones in our neighborhood. We have a neighbor that leaves out milk and such and then they come in droves. Can't get rid of the things.

    So please, come get all the ones in my neighborhood.

    And maybe you can train you cat to be a better fighter. I don't know, get it some giant spurs like they give to cockfight participants. You know, just something to even the odds.

  13. EW I hate looking at cat sutures! All that shaved skin and staples remind me of my ex-husband's neutering. Ew, ew, ew!

  14. Growing up I took care of dozens of stray cats since I was allergic. Everyone has a Jack whether it be a cat or a person. Hold on to those we love. Great lesson Andrew

  15. Jo: Well, I can't actually answer that question. That's the one carry over from the previous owner. I wanted to call him "Sam" as the neighborhood kids had named him that before we found out he had an owner, but, once they found out his "name," they all switched over to it.

    Lee: I actually have several posts about my daughter's accordion playing. I'll try to remember to link them to you.

    Rusty: Well, I think my cat has put a mark on our fence post to let other cats know we're friendly, because we have a couple others trying to get in now.
    I'm not taking in more cats, though (I say that now).

    Cathy: Um... I'm just not gonna ask what that means.

    Maurice: Wait, you took care of them -because- you were allergic? Like, your parents wouldn't let you have a cat because of that, so you took care of the strays?

  16. ahhhh...cute cat! i use to own, then i got kids. sorta replaced the cat need. hahaha... wait i gotta do it like you did on my post. you have a cat?! DUDE!! it!

  17. Tammy: Partly, I have animals -because- I have kids. I might have a dog if I didn't have kids, but I certainly wouldn't have a cat.