The Cat We Couldn’t Keep

You have to be good to your cat family, and to potential kitty additions, by respecting the personalities of each and doing what's best.

She showed up at a meditation class my boyfriend and I were taking – just stormed right up the carpeted stairs and plopped down in front in front of everyone while the instructor was explaining something. Everyone laughed and the dilute calico cat basked in the attention. But there was going to be no meditation done while she was around, so she was gently urged outside. Where she waited. One of the other students found her when class was over.

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“We can’t just leave her here!” she insisted as she held the cat in her arms. “She’ll run out in the street.” The calico looked at my boyfriend and I as if she were in total agreement.

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Of course, this student wasn’t able to take her to her apartment, and of course we got stuck holding the cat. So we took her home and put her in the downstairs bathroom for the night. Brian worked at a veterinary clinic at the time, and he would take her there in the morning for a checkup.

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We already knew we couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, keep the little cat. It was November 2004 and we already had Binga, Boodie and Sparkle. I’m not one of those people who can have a dozen cats. Even with three, I felt it was a stretch to give them each enough attention. But Brian brought the cat back, freshly spayed and with a cone on her head, and we kept her for a month while we figured out what to do with her. We were careful not to give her a name.

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It wasn’t long before the calico cat took over the whole house. The moment the cone was off, she spent most of her time getting into everything in the house, soliciting attention from me, Brian or Brian’s dog Sushi and entertaining us with her crazy behavior. She treated my stuffed bears like prey, carrying them around in her mouth and bunny kicking them fiercely. She loved the dripping bathtub spout. She would jump on my lap as I worked at the computer, involving herself in whatever I was doing. She was the best cat you could possibly imagine.

Except our three cats did not agree. While none of them acted out by peeing inappropriately or fighting, it was obvious. My office was Sparkle’s domain, but every time she came in, it seemed like the calico cat was already on my lap. Sparkle’s hurt look would sear through me. Boodie was visibly depressed, as if she were worried that we would keep the cat and get rid of her. Binga had it the worst because the calico cat took over her social duties. The last straw for her was the dog. Sushi was her pal, but this interloper stole her friendship! Binga did not talk in her normal voice the whole time the calico cat lived with us.

Even though Sparkle and the kitty eventually became friends – they were close to the same age and came to enjoy playing together – it was clear that she had to go. This cat needed a home where she was in charge and her rule wasn’t questioned. She also needed more attention than she could get in a four-cat family. Fortunately we did not have to look far – another student from the meditation class (not the one who originally foisted her on us) decided she wanted her. She lived in a large apartment with one very passive cat. So Brian and I bundled up our guest in a cat carrier and took her to her new home.

The calico cat treated the whole journey as an adventure. She didn’t make much noise on the drive over, and once we arrived at the woman’s apartment, she proceeded to explore the living room, kitchen, bathroom and anywhere else that was open. After chatting for a while, Brian and I got up to leave and as we went down the stairs to the apartment’s front door … the calico cat followed us. When we told her, “Stay, kitty! This is your new home,” she looked hurt and confused. I think all three of us – me, Brian and the cat – cried a little when we left her behind.

Soon enough, the cat, now named Peaches, adjusted and predictably took over the apartment. Binga returned to meowing in her normal voice. Sparkle went back to her regular office duties and Boodie breathed a sigh of relief. It was December and I put up a Christmas tree something I could not possibly have done with our mischievous visitor around. But even though I knew we had given the cat the best gift possible, the holidays glittered just a tiny bit less.

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