During my college years (plus a couple more), I worked at a health food store for pets (excluding fish, birds,rabbits,hamsters,snakes,gerbils, guinea pigs, chinchillas, spiders, and turtles). We basically sold high end, all natural, organic and raw food for dogs and cats. This era became what I like to call my Chapter to (almost) Adulthood. There’s probably a hundred different lessons/events I could go into, but the top 3 contributors are listed below.
1) I met my husband there. He was a customer who made me instantly wish I had done my hair that morning and wasn’t wearing my white and dirt covered work hoodie. But that’s a story for another time.
2)I learned the value of nutrition. While I ignored this for myself, my animals still eat the best. I still have a soap box I occasionally stand on and yell about how truly awful Science Diet is when it comes to nutrition. Think about it, people..Would you pick corn as the healthiest option for a carnivore to eat every day of its life? No, you’d pick a meat and then like the rest of the world you would pass the corn right through your arse. Digest that. *stepsoffsoapbox*
3) I met my baby sewer cat, Maddie. Now Maddie was technically not allowed to live with me under my parent’s roof (which was on the market), but I got around this somehow with the argument of joint custody (Maddie spent one week with me and then one week with my friend and coworker, Biff) and the fact that she was never at the house alone because she went to work with me. She was the store cat. See photo below for further proof and explanation of her description, “sewer cat.”
As a store cat, Maddie’s responsibilities included sleeping, pouncing on unsuspecting dog customers, stealing toy mice from open containers and sleeping. As a result of this, Maddiecat developed a preference for dogs, and a distinct animosity toward all things feline. To this day, she won’t even look at herself in the mirror.Not even if you stand super close and hold her head.
At some point, Maddie became fully mine and then by proximity, partially Laura’s (roommate), who I lived with for at least 5 years. One day, Laura got a kitten. He was tiny and orange and long haired and we named him Meiko Moloko. We introduced them slowly, tried placing his sent around the house prior, and associating it with Maddie’s happy things and chicken treats. We read the books and were prepared for an angry cat, but this was worse than angry cat, this was sadistic cat who raises threatening paws at you and growls when the kitten has been nowhere near for days and you’re just reading in bed. All the time. She stopped cuddling, purring, playing, and all things sweet until Laura and I gave up and found Meiko a new home.
Laura stuck to dogs after that. And the demon cat dissipated with the kitten scent as if it was always a one-cat home.
Fast forward to June of 2013 and Matt and I had a problem. Meet Matt’s huge kitten, Prim.
She’s maybe a year old, a complete klutz with that obnoxiously lovable “younger sibling syndrome.” She plays with everyone and thing, so we were less worried about her and more concerned with introducing Maddie to a new home and cat. We figured it was probably best that the yellow house was considered Prim’s and hoped this would tame any dwelling demons in Maddie.
Well we were slightly off. For the first 2 weeks, Maddie had her own room where she safely hissed at Prim and her intruding paws from under the door. But she was still sweet Maddie (to humans & dog), so I was content. Eventually we began switching them out. Prim would spend most of her timing smelling everything Maddie had touched in the room, while Maddie explored every nook and cranny the yellow house had to offer. They would share litter boxes, food, toys, and sleep areas, as long as they couldn’t see each other.
And then it happened. I was going into Maddie’s room ( aka the CraftyCat room) when Prim slipped in behind me. There was no greeting or pause, and Maddie was not prepared for the agile tiger disguised as Prim. Within 4 seconds, Prim was on top of Maddie who was screeching and someone was growling and so naturally I begin screaming. Not sure what I said, I think there was a mixture of “stop” and “Prim” and general “AHHHH” sounds.
Matt later requested that I never scream like that again unless it’s actually called for; he had thought I was dying. I maintain that my yelling was an attempt to distract the cats from killing each other.
Being the problem solver that he is, Matt did what I’m pretty sure all books tell you NOT to do–he intervened with bare hands and arms into the clusterf—- that was our cats. He did not scream, or yell, or say anything, or maybe I just didn’t hear him over my screams which now included the word “Matt” and “don’t.” Either way, he managed to separate Prim from Maddie who promptly bolted from the room. I shut the door and ran after her to check for wounds. Besides some bald spots and a couple of claw marks, she was fine. Shaky but fine. So I went to assess Prim & Matt for damage.
I knocked on the door before entering (in case Prim was stalking the exit) and heard Matt say “It’s okay” in his I’m-tired-of-this-shit-and-slightly-pissed tone. I opened the door. I first noticed the recliner had been flipped over and that Matt had blood down his arms. I looked at Prim who was growling at Matt from the top of her cat tree, her fur still standing. Next to the cat tree were two tiny cat turds. Matt refers to this as the time he “literally scared the shit out of Prim.” A full room assessment led to the discovery of multiple broken blinds some of which were dotted with blood, a yellow, fowl smelling puddle, several red specs on various spots of the walls, and dozens of frizzy-grey tumbleweeds.
I’m still not sure what happened in that room. Matt just says that he won and is now top of the pecking order. I’m happy to report that the cats are both free to roam and occasionally play together when Maddie feels like it.