Felines & Persuasion (#273)

My child was always fascinated by cats.

My cats were only fascinated by my child when he was an immobile source of warmth. The minute he developed enough motor control to grab their fur, the cats were out.

Bat Cat and Commando Cat had been my pampered bachelorette cats. They grudgingly adapted to both husband and rescue dogs. But small fingers pulling fur? Hell no. They hid up in their scratching posts or heated cat bed.

Baby D had a boy-loving rescue dog who would have happily played chase or keep away with him for hours. But Baby D was contrary. He scorned the in-your-face, I-love-you-so-much creatures. He wanted the ones that were hard to get.

“This,” I told my husband, “does not bode well for his future dating life.”

Baby D hated tummy time. He refused to crawl. He insisted on grabbing his parents’ hands and walking, or cruising from one piece of furniture to another. One day, as 9-month-old Baby D protested the requisite tummy time while I used the bathroom, he got quiet. Too quiet. I hurried out of the bathroom.

Baby D wasn’t where I left him. Luckily, our house was tiny. It only took me five seconds to find him—sitting on top of the poor cats and cackling with glee as they yowled in protest.

A very hurried photo before rescuing the cats underneath Baby D

Baby D had only learned to crawl to catch the cats.

Unlike the rest of the family, my Chinese-American husband was not fascinated with cats. He tolerated them. That was all. When I was pregnant, he cleaned their litter box –after ostentatiously donning a damned RESPIRATOR to show how offensive he found the smell. When they got various geriatric illnesses, he shrugged, mumbled a vague “sorry,” and sighed over the vet bills.

I was on my own when it came to vet visits and hairballs. And death.

Commando Cat, unable to produce any more blood cells, had to be put down first. After Baby D said good-bye, I left my two-year-old with a babysitter and took Commando Cat to the vet, where he purred his way out of this world.

Ten days later, while my husband and son were visiting my in-laws in Hawaii, I had to put Bat Cat down as well. My friend JM, who had been my roommate when I first adopted Bat Cat, was nice enough to come with me and hand me tissues.

Andy, on the other hand, barely said “sorry” over the phone before launching into a tirade about how difficult it was to parent our child solo. Alone, I packed up the litter box, the cat food bowls, and the cat toys. Alone, I cried over cleaning up the last hairballs. (Well, what I thought were the last hairballs. I found more hidden under beds and in boxes under beds months later. I cried over those, too.)

I was still sniffly when Andy and Baby D returned home. Andy was still unsympathetic.

“They were old, honey. They had good lives. What’s there to be upset about?”

Weepiness turned to rage. “Listen to me, you unempathetic monster,” I hissed. “Someday, SOMEDAY, when we have to put down our dogs, you will understand how much it hurts not to have your beloved buddy run to greet you when you walk in the door. And fucking Niagra Falls will be pouring down your face, and I will remind you of what an asshole you were right now. And then, maybe you will apologize for being such a jerk.”

Baby D was more upset about not having cats than Andy. He talked about both Commando Cat and Bat Cat being dead and begged repeatedly to get another cat.

Andy was adamant. “No more cats. The dogs are enough.”

Baby D scowled at Andy and made friends with cats in the neighborhood. He remained ambivalent about the dogs, expressing an interest in Woofie’s tail only when he could pretend it was a fire hose or a machine gun. Woofie was far more forbearing than any cat would have been.

I wanted a cat again, too, but caring for two big dogs and a preschooler was more than enough. It was at least a year before I mentioned the possibility of rescuing a cat.

Baby D was all over that. “Yes! Kitty!”

Andy was not. “No! No cats!”

Baby D said, “But Mommy and I both want one! That’s two against one! We win! We get a cat!”

I shook my head and explained, “That’s not how it works with pets, sweetie. Everyone has to agree to get a pet. If Daddy doesn’t want a cat, he won’t be nice to it or love it and that’s not fair to the cat, is it?”

Baby D glared at his father. “You don’t like cats? I don’t like YOU!”

Andy merely laughed.

Not long after I crawled in bed that night, Andy gave me a kiss. And then a little nudge. You know the nudge. It’s the nookie nudge.

I smiled at him and said, “Oh, did you want something?”

Andy grinned hopefully.

I said, “Well, you know what? I want something, too. I want a cat. Let me know when we can make a deal.”

And I went to sleep.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

12 thoughts on “Felines & Persuasion (#273)”

  1. This one smells of a part 2 and I’m putting my money on Mom and Baby D. I’m getting attached to Baby D. As a child we had a dog and cats and I gravitated to the cats. I still love dogs but the cats were my favs. I also went directly to walking at 9 months.

    1. Part II and more, I think. I was more of a cat person as a child, for sure, although dogs have really grown on me. Proof that it is possible for love to be all encompassing, I guess. 🙂

    1. It was just the three of us (me and my two cats) for many, many years. I suppose mourning them alone was fitting. Actual sympathy would have been nice, but sometimes there’s just not much time when you are raising a toddler.

  2. Your poor husband needs to learn that minor changes in responding in sad situations can prevent future stress. “They were old, honey. They had good lives. What’s there to be upset about?” really should be reworded to ‘They were old honey, we gave them a good life'(…then silent hug), and don’t ask questions.

    Learning how to stop asking those ‘bad’ questions in these situations will be the most difficult part, but I have confidence that he is capable of doing so, since if I can do it, so can he.

    I do have the advantage of being a cat lover myself, and mourned each of my cat’s passing. Unfortunately for me, it is my turn to take the cat to the vet in the future for the ‘appointment’ since the last time we had to put a cat down, I had to watch the kids while my wife took the cat to the vet, and was wrecked by the whole experience. Thankfully our current cat is young, and(hopefully) will be many years before I will have to deal with that sadness.

    1. He is normally pretty good at the heartfelt, “I’m sorry, honey,” with a hug. Which made his “let me try and talk my wife out of her feelings” approach seem even more insensitive. I believe he has learned since then.

      Taking animals in to be put down is a soul-wrecking experience. I’ve returned the favor to JM recently and even just being there for a friend is hard. I’m grateful for the fact that we can end a pet’s suffering, but I do wish that they could just die in their sleep sometimes.

  3. You cut a pretty tough deal. Commando and Bat Cat where beautiful. Confident that you and Baby D will win the argument, I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of the new cat(s) .

  4. How long it took before Andy cave in and you got a cat? Haha!

    I have to confess I’m not a big fan of cats. They are scary. Plus, I was allergic to them. No idea if I’m still are, a couple of weeks ago we went to some friends’ apartment and they have 5? 7? cats and I was fine. But well, I didn’t touch any of them (they all hid from us).

  5. How sad 🙁 It’s so hard to lose a kitty. I’m so sorry you had to lose two cats one after the other.

    Glad to hear baby D will also be a cat person. There’s just something about cats, I love them so much.

    Hope you were able to get another cat 😉

    1. Thanks, Mary. Losing pets is so painful, and yet it’s the deal we make, given their short lifespans. How does your partner feel about pets?

      I’m sure everyone who follows me on Instagram has already figured out the end of the story. 🙂

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