I don’t spend enough time writing about my cats. We have four of them. Four meowing, eating, pooping machines.
Sometimes having four cats is hard.
- Four cats produce a lot of cat shit. We order 120 pounds of kitty litter at time. (Seriously, the UPS man hates me.)
- Four hungry cats have a big appetite. We order 30 pounds of cat food at a time.
- Four cats require a special pet water fountain to make sure there is enough clean water to keep everyone hydrated. Dehydrated cats get constipated and constipated cats will keep you up all night.
- Four cats require a lot of cat scratchers. Currently there are three in the living room alone, and they still insist on using my pretty couch and chairs.
- Four cats cost a lot of money. We just spent $500 in vet bills in 2 WEEKS for annual checkups.
There is also the issue that cats are typically solitary creatures and do not always care for the company of another cat. My cat was an “only child” before we moved to Kentucky and was NOT pleased with her new step siblings. After two years of resistance and constant cat accommodations, she finally came around. While she does not love the others, they tolerate each other quite nicely.
Mr. Husband’s cats are all sisters from the same litter. Two of them are quite happy together and play and bathe one another. It is adorable and at times disturbing when one will clean the other’s ass. Mr. Husband’s third cat, Newton, is “special.”* Newton does not understand feline body language nor does she understand boundaries. She does not walk so much as lumber along. She has an abnormally small head and mismatched fur – short hair in some spots, long in others. She does not bathe herself and requires regular grooming and clipping. She does not have a normal meow and instead makes this ear-piercing squeak. That said, Newton’s simplicity, naivety and adorable squeaky attempts at meows make her absolutely charming. She is ALWAYS happy and always excited to be around anything or anyone that moves.
During the past two months we have seen a dramatic negative shift in Newton’s personality; our perpetually happy, squeaky, small-headed cat has been torturing my cat and it is destroying the peace. Seriously, even the dust bunnies seem tense!
Newton approaches my cat, gets right in her face and starts glaring without blinking. After a few seconds she starts letting out a war cry that gets my cat all upset. The others them come to see what the fuss is and soon we have a room full of unhappy animals – one wailing, another growling like a dump truck and two more looking around, obviously on edge while two humans frantically flap their arms and try to calm the masses.
We have tried everything to curb this behavior: squirt bottles filled with water, loud noises, picking up the aggressor and offering cuddles and putting them in “time out.” We have tried more play time, offering a treat dispensing toy, opening windows despite the oppressive heat and putting a bird feeder outside their favorite window. Nothing seems to work.
We can’t eat a meal without having to attend to angry cats. We can’t enjoy an episode of 30 Rock (my current obsession – yes I’m grossly behind the times) without having drama. My cat spends most of her day perched on a stool, out-of-the-way of the war cry and aggressive stare.
Last week it all became too much and I called the vet and set appointments to bring each cat in for her routine exam and rule out any underlying health issues. First we took the two buddies in and they got an excellent report. Today we took the two drama queens in and while they got a clean bill of health, the doctor agreed that the misbehavior is not good.
The solution? Kitty antidepressants for Newton. I feel like a terrible cat parent. I don’t want to dope the dopey kitty, but can’t handle the tension anymore. It is unfair to all the creatures in the house, humans and dust bunnies included.
I’m having a really hard time stomaching the idea that tonight I will go home, greet my lovely little cats with pats and hugs for all, tenderly scoop their kibble, sit with them as they dine and then snatch the “slow” one and drug her. Does anyone have experience with a pet acting out like this? Has anyone had success with pet antidepressants? I don’t want my cat to be a soggy lump of fur, but do wish that the happy-go-lucky “I LOVE EVERYTHING” feline who used to shed all over the ottoman would come back.
* Now that I’m learning all about genetic defects I really want to do a karyotope on Newton and see what exactly is askew but that is not really in the financial cards!