My husband says the only redeeming thing about my cat, is that I love her.
A large pouch of skin hangs from her middle; a flappy, back and forth belly. I have an un-scientific theory that her bones stopped growing before they fit her skin, as a result of malnutrition in the first few weeks of her life. She doesn’t know how to regulate her food intake, as though there were a time when she was entirely without and she’s afraid of never being fed again.
She has almost exotic eyes, lined thick in black Egyptian style. The left is dark and hazy with limited vision, from an unknown accident or abuse.
She is not elegant, graceful, streamlined, or proportionate. Her markings are best described as blotchy and her body type, lumpy.
She is bitey, anxious, afraid of being outside, and generally maladjusted.
But I am her mother.
I have already forgiven her for all the future times she will turn on me without discernible reason and draw blood. It’s a little terrifying to live with a creature I am certain of being attacked by, mostly because of the startling effect of the unpredictable timing, but I can handle it.
I went back to the residential rescue shelter not even a week after the death of my first kitten, who had succumbed to an upper respiratory infection. I’m not sure what I was doing there. Yes I am. I was lonely. I was there on the premise of visiting, but secretly hopeful to come across a new cat that matched my home decor. I met four kittens that day, three of them gorgeous, long-haired babies that wanted nothing to do with me. As I proceeded to fail at forcing my affection on the beauties, the fourth, a spotty, cloudy-eyed runt, threw herself at me. Full of spunk, she batted and jumped about in the cat version of, “Here I am! Aren’t I great? Pick me!” I gave her a nominal pat and no serious consideration and went on my way.
Days later, I called the cat lady, blubbering and asking after the funky one with personality. I had been imagining the horrible scenarios that might have brought her to her circumstances as a lone rescue, at four weeks old. Abused. Neglected. Thrown out of a moving car like garbage. Left for dead. People do horrible things to animals. I had rejected her because she wasn’t pretty. I didn’t deserve her. But I wanted to try. I thought I might be able love her enough to cancel out whatever hardship had begun her life.
We got along terrifically. I would have gotten along terrifically with a cockroach in those days, if it had had the ability to keep loneliness from eating me alive.
She kept me company when I was miserable; living alone and dating jerks. Our first two years together, I preferred her to most of the humans I knew. Unfortunately for her, my self-esteem and taste in people eventually improved.
She only needed the one good eye to see she was falling in rank, when I moved in with the man who would become my husband. After seven years, they still don’t get along. He calls her nasty and mocks her inability to jump and she occasionally poops on his side of the bed.
I am sorry for my young daughters who run wailing to me with scratches received upon chasing the cat into a corner. Maybe if she’d give the kids the time of day, they wouldn’t try to force their love on her. They’ve noticed that other cats they meet allow themselves to receive affection, even welcome it. I wish I could offer my children a pleasant pet.
I keep my ill-tempered feline, not to punish my husband as he might think, but because I promised to love her and I can’t bear to break her dysfunctional heart. I’m not sure I could live with myself if I let her nastiness get the better of my commitment. I fear she would explode from sheer anxiety if she were to sent to live elsewhere. And I’m not sure if there is an elsewhere that would have her.
What do you do with a wonky cat besides love it and yelp when it bites you?