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Monday, February 8, 2010

Refusing to be Plan B

in which I ramble endlessly on and on (and on) so that y'all have SOMETHING to do while the snow melts

I promised y'all that I would share how I kept busy with my own special project while the husband shoveled us out this weekend. And I totally will. But first you have to realize something kinda important about me: I don't like animals all that much. (I know! I'm a horrible person!) I mean, I DO like them, but I don't. It's more of a love-hate relationship kind of thing. Because I have asthma. And because I'm allergic to most of the little buggers. So, while I don't go around kicking animals, I still mourn the loss of our beloved Bart (who was the! best! dog! ever!) and I will cry when our own personal Vortex of Vomit leaves this earth, I'm also not a tree-hugging, nature-loving, animal-coddling, gonna purchase a calendar of cute bunnies, fluffy kittens or adorable puppies kind of gal.

Just so you know.

Anyways, my special project this weekend has its roots in a story that began over five years ago. Several months before we received the Tongginator's referral, a feral gray cat showed up under our back deck. Oh yes, she did. And when I say feral, I mean FERAL, as in never been owned, not a stray, never been pet by someone, WILD cat. To make matters worse, she brought along with her five little kittens who had yet to open their eyes. *sigh*

Momma the Cat

With an animal adorer for a husband and a close friend who worked for a cat rescue league, I found myself sucked into the never-ending black hole that is POTTA. Oh, you don't know what POTTA is? Well, it's kinda like PETA, only it's one step higher up the chain of radical. It stands for People for Over-the-Top Treasuring of Animals. And my husband and close friend Yankee are both members.

Anyways, we cared for this feral cat and her kittens for about eight weeks, waiting for the kittens to age out of the Mommy & Me stage. Which basically means we fed the momma and stayed the heck away from her kittens so that she didn't attack us. And then - when the time was right, just a few weeks before we received an adoption referral for the Tongginator - we used a humane trap to capture all of the kittens, one-by-one, before placing them in a large cage in our garage. To capture the momma, we kept our garage door open just a few inches, then waited to trap her when she came to visit her babies. The first time we saw her inside our garage, we quickly closed the garage door, then waited her out until she finally entered the humane trap to eat the tuna we left out.

In other words, we starved her out. (I know! As I said: horrible!)

Once I heard the trap snap shut, I called the vet (whom we previously contacted) and headed over to his office with six snarling feral cats who didn't like me as much as I didn't like them. And yes, I sneezed the ENTIRE drive. We fixed all of the cats in order to prevent a feral cat population explosion and paid for them to receive all of their shots. We sent the five kittens to my friend Yankee's rescue league, so that special feral cat foster families could socialize the kittens before giving them to loving homes.

two of the five kittens, in their foster home

And yes, there truly ARE feral cat foster families. Who knew?!?!!

The momma cat, however, returned to our house, where she physically recovered from her surgery in a large cage inside our garage before we could release her into our back yard. During her week long recovery, she managed to decimate every single object we placed in the large cage AND scar the husband for life, even though he wore leather, elbow-length gloves specially designed for people who work with wild animals. I, of course, tried to remain patient with her since we'd just stolen all of her babies from her. (I know! Yet again: horrible!) I? Am a kitten thief.

And don't think I didn't see the irony of having all of this happen during the month we received our adoption referral.

Since I stole every single one of her kittens, I couldn't go on calling her Momma the Cat because it just emphasized my guilt, so Momma morphed into Molly. When we released a fully healed Molly, she - for some strange reason - decided to stick around. She still hunted, but also seemed to appreciate the food and water bowls left on our back deck. And the husband and I continued to feed her twice a day... for months. Because we stole her babies. Because I couldn't let go of the guilt. She hung around for about nine months before disappearing one day. I wanted to cheer, but I couldn't because I felt stressed that perhaps the neighborhood fox got her.

And celebrating that would have crossed the line.

During the next few years, the husband and I often wondered what might have happened to Molly the Cat. We never found... er... evidence of her demise, but that didn't necessarily mean she was alive and scratching somewhere. I sometimes teared up at the thought of life without Molly, but then I felt ridiculous because I don't even like cats.

I don't!!! Really!!!

But then... one day last year... Molly came back. I saw her sitting in the same spot she always sat in, quietly begging for food. I ran to fill up some food and water bowls, then called the husband to tell him Molly was back. He didn't believe me until he got home and saw for himself. She'd been gone over three-and-half years. That's when the husband and I had a humbling realization.

We? Were her Plan B.

Molly the Cat, formerly Momma the Cat

She'd obviously found some other suckers to take care of her during those years. They must have treated her better, given her better food or something. That didn't sit well with me. I mean, I've told y'all before how competitive I am. I seriously did NOT like the thought of another family taking better care of her. She'd come back, yeah, but it was probably because the family moved away or something. From that point on, I set out to spoil Molly outrageously.

Even though she's NOT our cat. And even though I don't even LIKE her.

Really! I don't!

The husband adores her though. And Rusty, our Vortex of Vomit, seems to tolerate her. Molly, however, has a strange fascination with Rusty's tail. Most nights find the husband and I sitting in the family room, with both Molly and Rusty in between us.

Molly, attacking Rusty's tail

Over the past year, we've spoiled Molly outrageously. She has a house now. With a heating pad in the winter. Seriously... it's a heating pad that automatically shuts off after 30 minutes, but we plugged it into an electric timer, set to go off every two hours. (Can someone say suckers?)

the house the husband built

During the snowstorm this weekend, I cannot tell you how proud I felt. Molly settled into her little house, complete with chairs on either side to help block the wind and snow. She looked so serene... seriously content. She was warm; she was dry; she purred at us until we went to bed at around midnight.

happy and content during the first part of the blizzard

I woke up around 4 AM, unable to fall back asleep until I checked in on Molly. I went downstairs... only she! wasn't! there! I couldn't tell whether the blizzard conditions or deepening snow chased her off her house, but I felt fairly certain that she hid beneath our deck. I couldn't get back to sleep... I needed to SEE her, to see that she was alright. I mean, I don't like cats, but this was MOLLY. Our Molly!

see how the snow is as tall as her house?

After fretting and pacing for at least 15 minutes, I fell back into an uneasy sleep, realizing I couldn't exactly start shoveling during the worst of the storm, before the sun even rose. At 8:30 AM, I was out, shoveling pathways on the deck so that Molly could reach her food and water bowls, then her house. It took forever.

the first round of shoveling, while still wearing
my pajamas ... another 11 inches fell after this

After the storm finally stopped, once I finished the second round of shoveling, our deck looked like this:

from left to right: a view from our kitchen door (notice the
food and water bowl hiding under our grill cover); and a
side tunnel to the right, leading to Molly the cat's house

My back ached. My toes felt frozen. And God wasn't too happy with my... er... grumbling mouth. But it was all worth it. Because later that night? Less than three hours after the storm stopped? Guess who came back?

Molly on Saturday evening

and on Sunday morning

So who's Plan B NOW, huh?!?!!!!

(But I still don't like cats. Even though I may possibly be a sucker.)


Buckeroomama said...

I'm sure Molly appreciates your efforts, TM, and in her heart of hearts, knows how much you NOT not like her.

Sherri said...

Has she ever let you guys pet her? I think this is such a sweet story--kind of a prodigal cat story.

Briana's Mom said...

I swear, you had me on pins and needles at the end of that story! LOL! I started freaking out about Molly! I'm glad she is back safe and sound. And I can totally tell how much you despise that cat. ;)

As you know, I am a total cat person. The ordeal with my poor kitty last week had me a complete wreck.

A good grief! You had a little bit of snow fall on you, huh? Good luck digging out!

Stefanie said...

Awwwww, TM... you ARE a sucker!! The cutest, sweetest sucker I know :)
another *non* cat person

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

I am a definate cat person and currently have 2. But I have to say, Molly's set up would make my cats jealous. I will have to keep them away from the computer because if they see this, there will be an ugly uprising that I don't have time for. LOL!

Saw your link on Grown in my Heart- Congrats!

Carla said...

We are newly reformed cat-lovers. ;) Our own vortex of vomit helped cure us, and as it's only been 2 years since his demise (*sniff*) certain members of my family are not quite ready to have another cat.

But this story? You made me cry! So glad Molly was okay, and came back...and survived the blizzard.

Aunt LoLo said...

Heh....and she never comes into the house?! She just lives on the porch?

(Grrr...the only way to leave comments on pop-up comment forms right now is to use my "name/URL" option.)

Kris said...

dude! omg this has got to be the best post ever. i am smiling from EAR TO EAR and i am now officially a Molly Follower, Fan, and Lover.

but then, i love cats. you don't :P riiiiiggght.

Debz said...

and the cat came back.... :o)
Love this post...warmed my heart.

Sheri said...

....and the cat came back, the very next day!!! YAY, TM and Hubby!! What a GREAT story!! :)

LucisMomma said...

Sweet story!

I am amazed that your deck is holding up under all that snow.

So, from the deck comment, I guess you can tell I am not a cat lover. lol

Love Letters To China said...

What a great story! I am a cat person on most days... lately I'm not quite sure. So glad Molly is safe and sound.

Donna said...

Yeah, it's plain to see that you don't like cats (insert sitcom laugh track here).

Dogs have owners.
Cats have servants.


Our Blog: Double Happiness!

Mamatini said...

Oh, you are FUNNEEEE! You do understand the "feral" concept, right? ;)

But ignore me; I'm soooo not a cat person. And I think this story says a lot about the person you are: very loving.

wenjonggal said...

You sure know how to tell a tale! With all the photos no less! What a great story! Much better than my "rescue the feral kittens" story, which ended with them mating, abandonning the babies, me handfeeding them and only one surviving, and then the "kittens" (the teen parents) escaping outside without being fixed. I did get them vaccinated, and got bit (which turned septic) in the deal... but you are way better. Dang.

And how happy is Molly that you are competitive!

thanks for visiting my blog and playing the Chinese game!

Chris said...

Yep, I'd vote for sucker...we ain't cat lovers at this house either, but I could see us doing something like that.

La-La-Liene said...

As my orange and white feline furball lays next to me I read this post.

Wow! Pretty amazing story. You may not like her and animals in general but I know a part of your heart loves this cat. A person who didn't wouldn't have reacted the way you did. You had to know where Molly was and that she was OK. Glad she's doing well and is cozy back in her pad built by your DH.

Myrnie said...

You're a good egg :)

Suzy said...

I don't think you were plan B. I think she was just one very P.O.'d kitty who needed time to forgive you before she was willing to admit that she appreciated all you'd done for her and come home. But I could be wrong because I really am not a cat person either (but I will feed them if they just show up and hang around). She really does sound like a prodigal kitty.

Dawn said...

Yes, I see... you really don't like cats. Seriously. You don't.

That's why you have TWO.

My hubby is just like you. (I'm certain I'm going to sneak up on them involved in a good snuggle one day.)


jen@odbt said...

She's yours. You know you love her.

Wanda said...

Laughing a nice slow chuckling kind of can't get the grin off my face laugh. Great story.

And I think you may be the nicest sucker/softy I know.

Holly said...

what the heck? Seriously? Feral cat foster families?
oh my.
well, I'll hold my tongue now.
You are fantastic TM. Really.

Patty O. said...

Yeah, you are totally a sucker! Definitely. But I mean that in a very nice way.

I love POTTA--made me laugh. I am with you. I am not a big animal person. I mean, I really like animals, but I would prefer not to be caretaker of one. I have enough problems potty training my kids. Paper training would kill me.

Ivy said...

Goodness, you're one smooth writer! I was sitting on the edge of my seat here scrolling and scrolling. Just love this story...I can just picture this all in my head as it occurred, but good girl for saving the kitty!

Thanks again for stopping by! Your comforting words were so welcomed!


blackbelt said...

That was fun! I totally relate to you in this way. I don't like pets. Hair. Ruined furniture. Through what were they walking? What were they licking? THE SMELL!!

BUT. I hate to see an animal suffer. I mean even the most insignificant critter. I would totally be the sucker too!

Kimberly said...

I love a good cat story! So glad that Molly is okay and made it through the blizzard.

Super Mommy said...

I don't like cats either much. I mean I like the thought of cats, but not owning and taking care of one.

Sounds like Molly was meant to be a part of your family ;0)

BTW the POTTA people are here too.

Laura L. said...

Yeah, I can tell you don't like cats. LOL!
Great story TM!

Janet said...

That cat will NEVER appreciate your efforts because....well, she's a cat. They believe that we have been put on earth to serve them. ANd they are right, because that is what we do. Daily. Those little suckers have me wrapped around their little paws. I can't help it. I love my babies. But they are cats. ANd they don't love me nearly as much as I love them. LOL!

The Source said...

INTERVENTION!! I'll stage one for you, TM...umm...as soon as the blizzard is gone.

A cat house? Seriously...that's what the red thing with shelves is? Too funny. I can't remember the last time I saw a real live cat. Lucy the Demon Dog won't let any into our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

That is one of the sleekest prettiest "feral" cats I've ever seen.
I guess because she is now what we would call an "outdoor" cat rather than a "feral" cat.
And a totally spoiled one at that!
PS Don't let your husband anywhere near Rabat. We have about 10 feral cats per square inch here. He'd go mad!

Norah said...

Awww, I just love Molly's story! Oh and I think you are in denial because Molly seems to have you wrapped around her little kitty claws. I heated bed, really? If my cat could read he might just be outta here.

Cavatica said...

So, what do you do for things you like? Life must be really good!

epin said...

I am an accidental member of POTTA. I am an animal lover but am allergic to cats. Then I found a tiny kitten outside without his mother and the rest is a long and expensive story. I now have 4 special needs cats (2 that visit cardiologists yearly, 1 that has an internist, and 1 that requires a neurologist). My wallet hurts, but my heart is full.

CC said...


Ha ha!! You couldn't have paid me to take care of that cat.

(I'm just super mean towards cats like that. You can only have your skin scratched off so many times before it's just a hate-hate relationship).

Dita said...

this post has had me in stitches for DAYS I tell ya!