Get out of the refrigerator!

Going back in time 1 year, I would have never thought I’d be saying that phrase. I mean, in what possible context could “Get out of the refrigerator!” have meaning? Yet today it is a command I issue, sometimes at an extreme volume, almost every single day.

Who would have thought “Get away from that boing boing!” would mean something, especially at 3 AM. “Come back here with that tootsie roll!” Another phrase uttered often in this household. Notice that tootsie roll is not capitalized because it’s not that kind of tootsie roll.

“Get out of the sink! Get off the kitchen table! Where is the top to my milk? Stop kicking the curtain rod! Dammit, my blanket is not a litter box!”

Oh well, I guess I gave it away there. I have cats. I also have a dog that eats tootsie rolls, but for the most part I have done everything I can to keep her away from them. Before getting into this though, I thought cats played when you had a fake mouse on a string and dangled it in front of their faces. I thought the rest of the time they curled up with you when you slept, pooped and peed in their litter box, and as long as you fed them and stroked their manes and played with them, that they were easy. This is how I remember our Siamese cat growing up.

After owning them for a few months, and looking at the cat litter all over the hardwood floor, everywhere in the house, and smelling pee everywhere in the house, and finding bags torn open, and little bits of food everywhere, and dirt from the plants everywhere, and the broken flower pots, and the diarhea, and the torn curtains, I felt like I was going to either commit felicide or suicide spontaneously.

I erupted at my vet. I told her I wasn’t spending another penny on these animals, and that I wanted a refund for every penny I spent on Seri (my Tortie) because I got her from the vet’s office. I told her the dog didn’t need all of the supplements she was taking, or the antibiotic she was taking for yet another UT infection that she had. I told her that if the dog really needed all that crap that I couldn’t afford it and it was time to put her down. I told her that she didn’t know what she was doing, that she was ripping me off, and that I was going to find another vet. I told her I was going to take Seri to the pound because obviously she had some severe psychological problems and that I had just witnessed her peeing on my couch down the crack between the cushion and one of the arms. My leather couch, which had non-removable cushions! How dare she!

When I saw the cat do this, I chased her around the house, trying to grab her. I didn’t know if I was going to choke the life out of her or just take her over to the litter box to show her where she was supposed to go. But I was seeing red, that’s for sure, and the cat knew it. When I finally got her cornered, she looked at me with those big yellow eyes, and made a sound I had never heard from her before. She didn’t lash out at me and try to bite me or scratch me. She just looked at me with those eyes, and the sound was so pitiful. It was a cry for help. The look and the sound conveyed the message of terror. “What did I do? Why are you so angry with me? Please don’t hurt me. You are supposed to be protecting me.” I swear to God, that is what the cat was saying.

I stopped and looked around. Furniture turned upside down. Broken glass and porcelain, gouges in the hardwood from where I had slid the couch across the room, and upstairs, a crack in the drywall from pulling my bed away from the wall and pushing it back against the wall with just a little too much force. What had I become? I lied down on the bed, and started to cry, and the cat, yes the same one I was about to kill a few minutes earlier, jumped up on the bed and started to head butt me. I sat up, and she jumped off me, and I reached out to stroke her and she rolled over on her back because she wanted me to rub her belly. I sat there and cried, and rubbed the cat’s belly, and she licked my fingers, and held my arm against her with her claws. She then began to gently bite my fingers, and although this hurts a bit, and so do the occasional incidental scratches, I’ve come to accept these things as a part of cat ownership. There are other things that I’ve had a more difficult time accepting, but they haven’t yet been mentioned here. I didn’t need to accept the cat peeing on my couch. I did need to accept that I needed help, and that I was the one with the problem, and that I didn’t have the solution. I needed to accept that my behavior, my reactions, can sometimes make matters worse, that is, unless God is guiding my cat to do exactly the right thing at exactly the right time so that I can have an epiphany and instead of chewing out the vet, ask her for help.

I contacted the vet again, and she told me to change a few simple things. I lucked out so far. The advice she gave me has worked, and the cat hasn’t peed once on the couch since then. The vet wanted to me to come in to have a face to face discussion, and I did. I apologized profusely, but she was only happy to know that I would be keeping Seri and not returning her. This is Seri’s home. She is happy here and she trusts me. She loves her little brother, plays with him constantly, and she is even spending more time with the dog, or trying to. The vet gave me a hug that day in her office. I think it’s because she knows Seri has a good home and knows that I will do whatever it takes to keep her happy.

I still yell at her to get off the kitchen table, or to stop meowing at 3am. I still yell at her brother to get out of the refrigerator he jumps in a half a second after I’ve opened it to get something out or put something away. And I still yell at the dog to “drop it” when I see her running away with a tootsie roll in her mouth. But there’s a difference between yelling at your pets because they are doing something they aren’t supposed to, but having love in your voice, and throwing a temper tantrum like a little child, possibly winding up hurting them or yourself, either physically or emotionally.

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Seri and Bene are a part of my family now. I’ve made a commitment to them, and that means that even when I’m facing a challenging problem I have to do whatever I can to help our family get through it. Since most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, my first course of action should be to ask for help. But not just ask, but listen to the advice I get and follow through on it. I have to trust that my vet knows what she is doing. My dog Jamaica has been seeing her for over 10 years, and we’ve been through some very difficult times, but Jamaica is alive, and happy, and loves the life she is living. Her tail never stops wagging, and although she has some problems with balance, she struts when we walk if she can.

I’m a good pet owner. I’m just new to this cat thing. My vet is not, and she will help me get through anything that we face, of that I am sure. Here is to hoping that these cats live a long, happy and healthy life, and that I can learn from the mistakes I make and move forward. And here is to hoping that Bene stays out of the refrigerator, and that Seri only pees in her box.

3 thoughts on “Get out of the refrigerator!”

  1. I guess I’m lucky. We have a cat and a dog and the cat, 100% an indoor cat, has never taken care of business outside his litter box. Oh sure, like all cats, he throws up wherever and whenever the mood strikes him, but, hey, that’s what cats do. At the end of this comment I will put a link to a post I wrote nearly two years ago that, as someone with both cats and a dog, you might enjoy.

    In the meantime, when I read the title to this post, it brought back all kinds of memories for me. As a teenager, I would stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open trying to decide what I wanted to eat. After a few minutes of contemplation, my reverie would be interrupted by my mother. “Get out of the refrigerator,” she’d yell at me. Thanks for the fun post and for the memory.

    Here’s the link, in case you’re interested:
    http://mindfuldigressions.com/2012/05/26/20-things-you-should-know-about-the-differences-between-dogs-and-cats/

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