Sunday, May 30, 2010

and the cat came back

We have a cat named Eleanor.
Now, for those of you who are really animal lovers, you might want to stop reading. Don't worry, no actual harm comes to any animals in the course of this story.

Oh, you're still here? Well, then.

Eleanor is a cat of indeterminate origin, about 13 years old, brown striped, with an orange belly and sassy green eyes. When I first got her, I was excited to have a cat that liked attention from people and would snuggle on the couch. Less attractive were her habits of hissing and swatting at you if you attempted to move her from her perch (on your knees, say, in the middle of the night when she woke you from your sleep). But all in all, she was a great cat for a single person.

Fast forward nine years. Now Eleanor is a slightly more crotchety animal, who unfortunately lives in a house full of people who have very little time for her needs. She used to be an indoor/outdoor cat (happily), but because of our recent move, she has been only indoor. She mostly stays in our living room.

We discovered a few years ago, upon having friends with young children, that she does not like young children.
Now we have young children. Specifically, a baby monster who is moving faster each day.

Did I mention the swatting and hissing? And the very sharp claws and teeth?

When Lucy was this age, we just shut Eleanor outside. But now, in a new house with very little yard, we had hesitated to put her out.
After a few days of very close calls between the two monsters, I made an executive decision. The cat would go out, or she would no longer live with us.
We put her out. She cried for a long time. A loooong time. It was very early morning (I tend to make rash executive decisions at 5:30 am for some reason). I worried about the neighbors taking extreme measures.
And then she stopped crying.
Except. When we went outside, she was no longer there.

What made me sad was that I had reached the point that I was relieved. I like this cat, and though not a person to call a cat my "child", I like cats. She is a nice cat (for people without young children). And I do not want to get rid of a cat by having her be lost, and scared, and hurt. But having an animal scratch my children, or come close several times very quickly cools the affection I once had for her. And having to actually drive her to a pound has proved very difficult to stomach.*

She was gone all day. we have no idea where she went. But at 3 am, Dyami heard some growling outside. And he went out and found her on our doorstep.

So, the cat came back. And I put her outside again today, and this time, she didn't disappear.

Oh, Eleanor, I wish I could say I were glad. I mean, I'm glad you're okay. Really. But I wish you were a little less touchy, and a little safer for my kids. Especially since the baby monster will be pulling herself up to the couch soon, right in reach of your claws.

*Why have we not given her away to the pound? Well, because this makes Lucy very upset, even though she is somewhat frightened of the cat, and super terrified that she will scratch Julia--screaming any time the cat so much as looks at the baby. Which helps the situation immeasurably!!! Also, the only pound that will take her would end up putting her to sleep, because she is older and won't get adopted. And I feel guilty. But if things don't get more livable around here soon, I will stop feeling guilty.

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