This is the fallout I forget about when fostering my wife’s favorite hobby, pet harvesting.
If she weren’t so compassionate and caring, we’d have far less dander in this house. But because her heart behaves like some maniacal co-pilot struggling to take the controls away from her brain, we have a stockpile of litter in the stairwell. Enough to outlast a nuclear winter.
I can’t say I fault her entirely. I mean, I suppose I could have said “No.” I could have asked her to take the handfuls of fuzz back to the barn in which she found them. But then, if I did, what kind of person would I be?
Well, in hindsight, I’d be a smart one.
Instead of banishing these kittens to the harsh outdoors, I agreed to bring the three felines into our home with the understanding that A) I get to name the ONE we keep IF we keep it, and B) we will find a home for the other two.
I’m happy to report that we finally accomplished the latter. I’m not so happy to report that the home we found for them is ours.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying. It’s just downright impossible to find people willing to take kittens unless you have suckers like us in your circle of friends. We thought it’d be easy to find them a home because of how welcoming we were to the pitter-patter of kitten feet. What we learned is that we *don’t* have suckers like us in our circle of friends. They have some rare gene that makes them immune to kitten attachment.
While bringing kittens into your home and acting as a conduit for adoption is a noble and humane gesture, it has to be done properly and without emotion if you want to avoid going from homeowner to zookeeper. It’s too late for us, but perhaps my “day late” realization can help other leaky hearts considering doing the same.
Of key importance is to remember that you have a very small window in which to rid yourselves of the kittens. If too much time passes, you’ll go through what’s known in therapy circles as the “Five Stages of Orphan Cat Ownership.”
Stage 1: Denial – “They’re adorable. It won’t be hard to find homes for them.”
It’s a well known scientific fact that puppies and kittens have some sort of mind-melding power that suppresses both reason and logic in some humans. These are the humans you need to find, because once you deny the reality that not everyone on the planet wants five cats, you’ll find yourself cradling a crate full of kittens that are harder to give away than the plague.
Stage 2: Anger – “$278!?!”
In the world of pets, “Free” can cost a fortune, and if you can’t find homes fast enough, the kittens’ initial vet appointment will become your responsibility. This introductory visit, which is mere foreshadowing to the lifelong financial commitment you’ll have to a creature that repays you by nonchalantly vomiting in your shoes, will include shots, de-worming pills, ear mite treatments, stool samplings, and a series of belly pokes and prods that are referred to within the vet community as “Fee Justification.”
Some veterinarians will offer you a bulk discount if you arrive with kittens en masse. To see if yours will do the same, here’s a handy little phone script I created that netted a sizable discount for our kittens’ first appointment.
Me: “Yes, I need to make an appointment for our kittens but I’d like to get two quotes so I can see which option would be more affordable.”
Vet: “Sure thing, how can we help?”
Me: “First, I need to know how much you would charge to see three kittens and give them their shots, treatments, and overall stamp of approval.”
Vet: “Okay, and the second?”
Me: “What’s the going rate on three euthanasias?”
This is the point when the veterinarian will break out the calculator and ensure that you’re getting a good deal on the treatments. Not so much because of their love for cats, but rather because they know that each cat will generate approximately $17,000 in revenue over the course of its lifetime. An amount that doubles if the household has kids.
Stage 3: Bargaining – “If you take this kitten, you can have my car.”
When the realization hits that no one wants your kittens, panic will start to set in. For some, this results in shameless begging. For others, it results in late night calls to unscrupulous Chinese restaurants. For us, it resulted in a relentless assault of our address book. No one denied the kittens were cute, but they all denied they wanted one.
We assured them that if they took a kitten off our hands, they’d be rewarded with an unfathomable amount of good karma. We also promised that the cats wouldn’t shed, expel dander, or require grooming of any kind.**
** Once shaved bare.
Stage 4: Depression – “We’re gonna be stuck with all these f’in cats.”
While the blow you’ll suffer in this stage will be softened by cute little antics and kitten brawls, there’s still the realization that for the next 14+ years, the cats will act as a constant reminder that you need new friends. Friends who share the same spineless reaction when it comes to furry freebies.
For while you’re surrounded by cats that regurgitate Meow Mix logs onto your carpet and unabashedly lick their kibbitz in front of guests, your friends are living carefree lives in their non-cat dander-free homes happily inhaling turd-free oxygen through their nostrils. A pleasure that will remain a luxury until you grow a pair.
Stage 5: Acceptance – “I’ll just get a second job.”
Once you realize that adoption is a fruitless notion, you’ll slowly begin to embrace the cats as members of your family. You’ll give them names, you’ll play with them more often, and you’ll hope and pray that they’ll at least have a tolerable personality and a “dig, squat, and bury” approach to using the litter box. It won’t happen, but you’re in their house now anyway. Your name may be on the deed, but it’s abundantly clear who owns the place.
What started out as a well-intended good deed to find three kittens a home, ended with an unintended good deed of allowing them to have ours.
At the time of this writing, Eusless, Jazz, and McMuffin are nestled together in one big kitty clump at the base of their cat tree. I’ll admit, they’re adorable, but they’ll soon grow into life-sized cats. And I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’ll have five of these things running around the house.
As I said before, if there’s a “crazy cat lady” line in the sand, we’re dangerously close to crossing it.