|Here's a nice picture of me losing my mind.|
When—if—you ever come across ‘property’ to call your own, there is something to anticipate.
People will think of you and your property a lot.
Especially when they have to get rid of animals.
When we first moved to the farm, our neighbor was talking to us about her cats: “I have so many cats,” she said, “and for some reason people think that means I want more! A few weeks ago some ‘friends’ of mine thought it was okay to just drop off kittens at my house—no shots, not spayed. Just you wait; now that you have property, you’ll just become a dumping ground for animals.”
For a while we seemed to be doing well. Granted, we kept our home open when someone was in need of a place for a homeless animal. We took in a dog that would have been put down, boarded a very sweet horse as a return favor for a friend, adopted some chickens from a hatching project. It was such a no-brainer to help our friends that we didn't even worry. We were fine and still had plenty of space.
Then my dad got a horse for my mom. Soon after me and my family begged my reluctant mother for an adorable blue heeler. My sister took in a barn cat, my mom purchased some more chickens after all ours had died. Once we started getting animals just because we wanted them, we started to notice how crowded our place was getting. Not to mention how long and expensive it was to feed these animals on a daily basis. It was then that we all nodded our heads and agreed: we are at max capacity. No more animals.
My sister and I had been looking for a kitten to give my brother for a long time. We were searching for an orange tabby to replace his that had died last November. So when we enlisted the help of a friend, who knows so many people that she herself is her own networking system, it wasn’t long before we were presented with a litter of stray kittens to choose from. The next step was to convince Mama. After begging, pleading, bargaining, and groveling, she just looked at us solemnly and said, “One.” So we said, “Of course! One.” My brother chose a small gray striped kitten and named him Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All. But Stormageddon was incredibly close to his brother, an adorable black kitten with white paws and whiskers and big green eyes. He had no brother and no home now. Our friends that were fostering the kittens encouraged me, “Take the kitten! He’s so cute!”
I gently refused. Although he was absolutely adorable, we just couldn’t take any more.
Then Big Mike held him. Secretly, I think my dad is a cat person in disguise. We didn’t have cats until he let our first cat, Cheese, into the house on a cold night when none of us were home. Cheese went on to reveal she was actually a girl by delivering six kittens on my mom’s Maryland Terapins sweatshirt. Needless to say, something in me knew that once Big Mike held the second kitten, he was coming home with us. With a grim exchange of glances, my parents, with the same solemn tone with which they had insisted ‘only one,’ said, “Put them in the car.”
I was confused. “Both?”
My dad nodded with a look like he had pulled the trigger on his whole family. In a moment of weakness, we had given into cuteness and reached the animal tipping point. We were officially suckers.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t over.
The foster family of the kittens couldn’t take care of them any longer because of allergies. So within a week we had five kittens crowded in our bathroom, and in the process I discovered something.
I. Hate. Litter boxes.
All of our other cats live outside, so I was blessed to never have to touch or clean a litter box. Let me just say something about litter boxes: if cats are known to be so clean, then why do they do their business inside? Can’t they learn to whine at the door like dogs and do their stuff outside? No matter how much deodorizer and brand name litter you buy, litter boxes still stink.
So imagine with me five small kittens with large appetites and fast metabolisms all stuffed inside one bathroom with dangerously low ventilation. Let me just say that bad things happened. Very, very bad things. In the days following, the smell of litter box permeated the whole house. The back bedroom smelled better than the kitchen and the kitchen smelled only a little better than just outside the bathroom door. The bathroom door was a hint to what the bathroom smelled like, which smelled better than the litter box. The litter box? It just reeked.
The only two things that kept me going with these kittens was:
1. They would go outside once they were old enough to be vaccinated
2. They were great cuddlers
Nearly every night when we settled down, we would get out the kittens and cuddle them. For me and Big Macintosh, it was great to be able to bond with our cats. For Farmer’s Daughter, it was dangerous.
One fateful night, Farmer’s Daughter was cradling the meanest cat in the litter when he did something unexpected: he started purring. Now my sister is the competitive kind of person—her whole life revolves around the feeling of ‘Veni. Vidi. Vici.’ So this purring cat in her arms was not just a kitten; it was a trophy. She and she alone had won over the heart of a cold-blooded feral animal. So, of course, she said it.
“I think I’ll keep this one.”
Six cats total.
We are dog people and our cats outnumber our dogs three to two! This should have never, never happened. I’m pretty sure people only ever have cats because they were once sweet kittens. Cats aren’t even that nice! But here we are, with six cats, with two more that need homes.
Luckily, we found a home for one of them, and my granny agreed to take the remaining cat if no home was found. Then we were down to four cats in our bathroom and their time to get shots was just around the corner. Which was good, because I was done with the litter box thing.
Alas, it was too good to be true. My sister came home the other day with some bad news. The kitten vaccinations come in three rounds separated by three weeks each, and the cats would not be protected until they had received all their shots.
They would be inside six more weeks.
Six more weeks of litter boxes.
I have six. More. Weeks. Of litter boxes.
So with that, I promise to keep all of you posted. I’ll give you updates on the kittens, litter box horror stories, and reports on my sanity. And I want to hear from you! What’s the worst animal project you have ever taken on? Answer in the comments below!
I just want my bathroom back, folks.