Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Bittersweet Goodbye: The Kitten Saga Concludes

Do not be fooled; Cooper's interest is not benevolent.

[Cooper: This treat looks delicious!]

It became painfully clear we could not keep the kitten when he and Little Mac had an ugly altercation on Saturday (we have no pictures, thank goodness). In brief: We decided to do introductions one dog at a time. I was nervous, David was sure it would be fine. The kitten purred and rubbed up against Mac's legs. Mac suddenly and without warning picked the kitten up between her teeth and flung him across the room. Kitten somersaulted through the air, I screamed and then burst into tears. David yelled at Little Mac, retrieved kitten. I transferred my anger from Little Mac to David because it had been his stupid idea anyway and stomped off to take a shower because I couldn't deal with his freaking crazy ass dog.

Kitty shook the whole thing off much better than I did. Mac is obviously a psychotic demon and I must accept this because I love her and she is 9 years old and obviously never going to change. And Cooper is honestly not much better -- he literally drools and licks his chops when he sees the kitten and has lunged for her twice. If the kitten were big enough to defend herself (eg. claw Mac's googly eyes out or scratch Cooper's nose) it would be one thing. But as she is about the size of a squeaky toy and makes the same delicious noise as a squeaky toy, it is clear that kitten would be fighting a losing battle. And stressing over dog/cat relations in this house is enough to drive me to drink.

So after a loooong holiday weekend with the kitty, I called this morning to make an appointment to take him to vet (yes, so much for Daisy. Kitty is a boy. I like to call him Pip.).

Thinking the humane society would be the least expensive place to take Pip, I called to make an appointment. Exams there cost $45 (!) and that doesn't include any shots or treatments. Yeah, we take our dogs to a country vet in Nevada when we're visiting my parents because we cannot handle paying that kind of vet bill.

But I wanted to make sure the kitty was healthy and I figured that a clean bill of health from the vet would make him more attractive to someone looking to adopt a kitten. So I was ready to pay the $45+ even if I wasn't excited about it.

Anyway, the humane society veterinarian office by my house had no appointments available today. They were two doctors short so they were pushing appointments over into tomorrow and didn't have anything available at the location near my house then either. I ended up making an appointment for tomorrow morning, but at at another location way out in the county, which was annoying.

After scheduling that, I went Jazzercise and on my way home I drove by the Cat Clinic on Hampton. I remember my friend Beth had mentioned once that she took her cat there when she lived in this area so I decided to call and ask what they would charge to examine a stray kitten.

$46. (!) But they could fit me in this afternoon at 2:30pm.

So I put Pip in Little Mac's carrier and we headed to the vet. Once we got in the exam room I took him out to hold him so he would stop meowing. He was very active -- climbing and walking all over me, purring the whole time. He kept trying to bite my fingers so I wadded up a receipt from my purse and made that into a toy to keep him entertained. I am amazed at how much more active he has gotten everyday. At first he just curled up in one spot in the garage and waited for us to come over and pick him up. The last couple days he would come running over to us when the door opened and start purring immediately as he rubbed against our feet.

So we're hanging out chasing a wad of paper when the veterinarian enters. I should say that I'm used to the country vet in Nevada, who hauls our dogs up on the table and calmly and efficiently checks them over with no fuss whatsoever. He's friendly, and he'll scratch Cooper behind his ears, but he talks to us -- not to the dog -- and his philosophy is obviously that pets are pets.

This veterinarian seems to have a slightly different philosophy. My first clue was the series of questions at the bottom of their information form. The first question asks you to check whether you feel:
(a) My cat is a member of my family
(b) I want the best care at a reasonable cost.
(c) Pets are pets.

Is it just me or are these answers clearly (a) right, (b) less right, and (c) totally WRONG you unfeeling jackass?

So this Cat Clinic veterinarian comes in and picks up the kitten. And she snuggles him up against her face. And she pets him and nuzzles him. And she baby talks to him. Which is fine, I mean, it's normal for like a pet owner, but maybe a little weird for a vet, right? But just when I thought that was weird, she kisses the kitten. Three times. On his head. Then pauses, says "You are so cute," and kisses him again.

[Kitten: Don't you want to kiss me?]

I just stand there awkwardly while she makes out with my stray kitten, trying to imagine our vet in Nevada kissing a cat or dog. And I cannot. Clearly this lady is a cat lover. I realize my mouth is hanging open and I hope that she did not notice I was staring at her in mild disbelief. I mean I think this is great and really nice, but just... strange.

So once the make-out session is over, she actually gets started with the exam and says that he is definitely a boy, that he weighs 1 pound and 1 ounce, and that she estimates he is just 5 weeks old.

I tell her the whole story about finding him under the shed and not being able to keep him because of the dogs and explain that I'm in the process of sending out mass e-mails to see if I can find him a good home because I don't want to take him to a shelter and I ask if I can post a flier in her office. She says yes.

Then she pauses for a minute, still snuggling the kitten, who is purring audibly. (He seriously is so irresistible that I am kind of jealous that she is making out with him.)

So then she tells me that they sometimes take kittens and care for them and adopt them out to their clients (only those clients who select option A on their information sheet, I'm sure).

The deal is that if I want to surrender the kitten to them, I just sign a form giving them ownership and when he gets a little older they will make him available for adoption by one of their clients. And until he is adopted, he will be fostered at the home of one of her employees who already has a kitten.

It seemed like the right thing to do -- and kind of like it was meant to be. I mean, I never would have ended up there if the Humane Society had been able to fit me in today. And if I have to give up the kitten at leastI can feel good about leaving him with a vet who loves him enough to engage in PDA on the first meeting.

So I agreed and signed the paper surrendering ownership of Pip to the Cat Clinic.

They didn't charge me for the visit, so I gave them a $25 donation. I watched the kitten scamper around the desk while the girl ran my debit card. She must have noticed me looking a little sad because she assured me that he would be in good hands.

I kept telling myself that this was a relief that it all worked out so well.

And then I got in my car and sat in the parking lot and cried.

I had told them that I'd donate the kitten chow and litter I had already purchased, so I drove home to get it. I went to the garage to grab the stuff and when no little orange kitten came running to greet me, I cried again. (I am obviously far more traumatized over all this than the kitten is.)

I can't believe how attached I got to that little thing in just a few days. And David wasn't any better -- he wanted to keep the kitten more than I did! He sounded so sad when I told him what happened over the phone, even though he agreed it was the right thing to do.I do believe that things worked our for the best this way and I am confident that our tiny little kitten will become a fat and sassy and spoiled cat in a good and loving home. It is better than having him live in our garage or foisting him out on Max and Jamie who were really not excited about welcoming a kitten into their pet-free home. But it still feels a little empty knowing that he isn't out there, waiting for David to come home and snuggle with him on the couch (while the dogs drool and stare as though David were cuddling with a chicken strip).

So this little incident has shown me that we are definitely not ready to adopt a kitten, but that someday (perhaps in a post-Little Mac world) we will be. It turns out we are dog-and-cat-people after all.


  1. Oh Brooke that cat is sooo cute! I wish I lived close enough to take him, I miss my Mr. Boo who was also an orange and white boy cat and the best cat in the world. But, Gimpy has decided all strange cats are from the devil and screams bloody murder when she even sees one so I guess a second cat is out for us too.

  2. I'm sorry you had to give him up, but it sounds like he's going to have a loving family soon. Just think of all the fun he's having running around with another kitten.

  3. Aw, what a cute little guy, and this story has a happy ending! I wish I would have known about the Cat Clinic when I lived there.