My family pretty much always had cats growing up. When my parents were still together, we had a rescued greyhound until I was three or so I think. Then my parents divorced and my mom would only agree to cats, probably because she would be the one taking care of them most of the time. So, we had Smoky and the uniquely named Spot (I named her). We were living in Alabama, and I was in the first grade. When we moved at the end of the school year, the movers left the doors open and the cats ran away. I didn’t mourn for too long because I was young and didn’t care that much.
We moved to Nebraska after that. (My mom was in the Air Force, thus the moving). After a few years, Carol Ann once again agreed to let my sister and I each get a cat. We went to the local animal shelter and there were three sisters: one dark and striped, one gray and striped, and one with long hair. My sister wanted the dark one, and I wanted to the long-haired one. But, my mom jumped in and took the gray, striped one with shorter hair. I thought this was supposed to be my cat, Mom? I’ll never know what happened to that third little kitty with long hair.
On the way home with our new pals, my sister Melanie named her cat Tigger and I thought of the creative name Bubbles. Don’t ask me why I chose that. No, it’s not from the Powerpuff Girls. The two cats lived with us through several moves. Tigger died while I was in school in Costa Rica. My mom sent me an email saying that she was in “kitty heaven”. Bubbles survived a few years longer, but they had to put her down because she was sick and losing too much weight. Carol Ann called me and told me that she just hoped Bubbles had a good life and was happy. She’s buried in my parents’ backyard in Virginia. They have three other cats now, so there’s no shortage.
I was never super into any of these cats growing up. They didn’t want to lay in bed with me. They didn’t want to take a bath with me no matter how many times I pushed them in the bathtub. I also didn’t want to take care of them. So, I probably wasn’t the best caretaker. Does this explain why I don’t have a boyfriend? Possibly.
It took a huge bout of depression and loneliness in Armenia to get me interested in having a cat again. While I was bored in my lonely apartment in Yerevan, I remember scrolling the pages of the Humane Society in DC, imagining my life with each of the cats there. Pretty sad, huh?
After moving to DC, I still struggled to commit to a pet. Most apartments charge for them if they even allow them. Then there’s the cost of food and litter and shots and cute outfits that I would obviously make my cat wear. What if I move abroad? What if the cat gets sick? But, I still fantasized about coming home to a little furball that would love me unconditionally (or at least, I’d tell myself it would).
I think my sister sensed this desperation for a pet. She’s in the Air Force now and was living in Louisiana with her fiance who is also in the Air Force. They have a dog and a cat but needed to relocate them because they were both deploying to Guam for six months. My sister asked me if I wanted to take in the cat Fenway. Fuck yeah, I did. But, my lease prohibits pets. I thought I’d at least ask my landlord to make an exception. The worst he could say was no. I tried to use the patriotic angle, saying that my sister is in the “military” and is being “deployed” (I didn’t say to a tropical island and not a warzone) and that I would only have the cat for a couple of months (or six). To my surprise, he agreed.
All my dreams were coming true. This was like a rental cat. If I hated it, I could give it back in six months.
So, my sister flew up in February with Fenway. It took some getting used to, but I think she and I get along now. She likes to lay in bed with me when I’m falling asleep and sometimes sits on my lap while I’m watching TV.
My sister thought the easiest way for me to feed Fenway would be to buy an automatic food dispenser. It dispenses a certain amount of food everyday at the same time. It’s good for me because I’m sure I’d forget to feed her one day and then realize it at work and feel like one of those parents who left their kids in the car overnight. It also prevents her from becoming obese or “fluffy” as all of my parents’ past cats have been because they eat as much as they want.
The feeder, however, led to our first fight about a week or so into Fenway’s stay with me. Although there’s the same amount of food coming out of the dispenser everyday, Fenway will stick her paw up into it trying to get any loose food that might come out. It creates the most ANNOYING noise and she KNOWS I hate it. One weekend, I was trying to sleep in and I just kept hearing this scratching sound and I ran up to her and clapped in her face and said “STOP IT!” She hissed at me and wouldn’t let me pet her when I left later that morning.
She still does the same thing, but I think it’s a combination of I’ve gotten used to it and she’s not as bad at it. I also have just accepted that if she’s going to fuck around with the damn tray, her cat food’s just going to go on the floor, so what’s the point of putting it back on?
I love having Fenway though. I think she likes me enough and I like that whenever I have people over, even my mom, she runs away and hides. She only feels comfortable with her Uncle Peter. Though, there was this one time I brought a guy home and she jumped in the bed with us. That was very unusual of her and inconvenient for us.
My mom, being the forever cat lady, has taken it upon herself to look out for Fenway’s welfare. One time, I went out of town for three days, and my mom wanted to stay at my apartment for two of them. “What if she gets lonely? What is she going to do?” I don’t know, Mom, the same thing she does all day everyday. This past visit, my mom was shocked that I didn’t leave my air conditioner unit on all day so that Fenway doesn’t get too hot. This is an apartment not a pet spa.
The weirdest part of having a pet is being naked in front of her. Walking around after taking a shower is ok now. I used to lock her out of my room when I needed to be “alone”. Now, I don’t mind as much. It’s just weird if we make eye contact while it’s happening.
So, like any annoying person who has a pet, significant other, or child, here’s a collection of photos that I want shove down your throat: