Cat Herding

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Year Later...

One year ago today, I started caring for my brother's cats.

My brother, Dick, was hospitalized after I took him to the ER for pain. After tests were run, he was diagnosed with terminal multiple myeloma and died from respiratory complications after a few weeks.

A year ago, I walked into his home and experienced the thunder of frightened cats scattering in many directions. Those that knew me well soon came back up to me and inquired as to the day's menu, while others hid under a bed, an armoire, a sofa, a table, or hid inside cabinets and closets.

When I put the food out, most came to eat or at least investigate, but some waited until I left the area before they darted to the bowls. I had no idea how many cats there were, I didn't know all their names, and I wasn't sure about which ones still needed to be spayed/neutered. I also didn't realize that I was going to be caring for many of them for a long time, and for all of them for months.

Today, all the cats that hadn't been altered are spayed/neutered. Today, some are living in new homes - as family or as guests waiting for adoption with a family. A dozen are living with me and my original cats and dog.

When I touch or simply look at each one by itself, I see a beautiful, fascinating creature. When I look at all of them together, I see a herd of willful critters that have changed the living conditions of my own cats, my dog, and especially me.

Some changes are for the good -- my shelter dog, Honey, has learned to deal quietly and politely with cats instead of gleefully chasing them under the bed and following to see if she could catch them. Now she waits for permission to walk past either of the small grays (Grayling and Midget) who tend to glare and growl at her as often as not. My original cats are learning to live amongst them, although there are still spits and spats as they try to remind "Dick's cats" that this is THEIR home.

I get frustrated, and tired of cleaning/spending money/worrying about adoption/worrying about cat-cat fights and cat/dog fights, etc. But when I have some quiet time and one of "Dick's cats" jumps on my lap, I enjoy the softness of the fur and the tone of the purring, and the pressure of the head butt against my hand or chin. Unless it's Tig who jumps up when someone else is on my lap and bites their neck, or Bunny wants to rub my chin when I'm trying to eat, or Jin squalls for the 10th time for "more food"...

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