This morning my son and I said goodbye to one of our cats.
Allow me to wind back and tell you the story of my horde of cats.
Nine years ago, my new husband and I adopted a cat together after a mutual friend of ours skipped town and left him behind. His name was Oreo, and he was the most fearsome indoor/outdoor cat I’d ever seen. He survived the year wolves had taken 10 of our neighbourhoods’ cats, he’d had a full-blown street war with our neighbour’s cat Susan, and I kid you not, he had supported a mother skunk and her three babies by bring food to their home under our garage.
We loved that beautiful monster Oreo, but a few months after my husband left, that cat disappeared.
I was devastated. I put up signs and Facebook posts. I would go around the neighbourhood calling for him every night, and kept urging my neighbours to check their yards for him. He used to go outside all day and return at night when he was hungry, but after a whole month of not coming back I felt I’d lost him for good.
Then one day, a neighbour I didn’t know well happened to see one of my posts; and commented that Oreo had been living in his garden shed.
Three houses down from me. The little punk could definitely have heard me calling for him.
After learning about where Oreo belonged, that neighbour started bringing him back to my house. However, upon his return, Oreo's demeanour was that of an angry tempest. He would hide all day and he would snarl and lunge at me or my son if we got to close to him. And despite our best efforts to keep him inside, every chance he got he’d bolt out the door. Straight back to my neighbour’s garden shed.
It was as if he’d chosen a side in the divorce and no longer lived with me too.
So, I adopted Nancy.
I thought Oreo might stick around if I got him a new friend. And my son and I were missing having a cat at home.
Nancy was affectionate and fluffy, and we just adored her.
Oreo no longer came home. He would even viciously attack my neighbour whenever he would try to bring him back. So, we were back down to one cat.
About a year later, I decided to get one more cat. We go out a lot and I thought Nancy was lonely. So, I watched the local rescue page for the right cat, and after a while one popped up! An all-black long-haired male. My favourite type of cat, and he looked just like Nancy. It was hilarious.
However, the rescue responded saying that he was being fostered in a town way far away from me and they couldn’t bring him down.
A few months after that, the rescue posted about a feral colony of cats they’d found in an abandoned house in the middle of a January cold snap. They were desperately looking for fosters to take in as many of these wild cats as possible. I saw another fluffy black cat, and signed up to foster him.
Spooky was a completely feral cat. He was not even a year old and had likely never even seen a person before. He would hide inside a drawer in my dresser and only come out at night to eat, drink and use the litter box. He would hiss and pee himself if ever we got too close.
It went on like this for four months, and I didn’t think he’d get any better. However, one day he decided to sleep on my bed at night. I was so excited, I didn’t dare move a muscle. Weeks later he started to let me play with him as long as I didn’t get to close.
The rescue asked me to bring him to the vet for a check up after about five months after getting him. They also asked if I was still interested in taking the other cat because they could meet us at the vet and transfer him to me.
I, a crazy cat person agreed. We named him Norman.
Now I had three identical black cats, but I reasoned this by telling myself that Spooky didn’t count because we rarely saw him.
A year later, the three of them had closely bonded and were a happy little unit. Even Spooky had come around and was a friendly — albeit skittish — cat.
Fast forward to two months ago, one of the rescue groups had posted a senior fluffy black cat needing to be rehomed. I knew I couldn’t take another one, so advocated hard to help him find a home. But after six weeks, he still hadn’t had anyone interested. So, I agreed to let him come try it out here.
My heart is bigger than my common sense.
I took in Jazz on a trial basis, hoping he would acclimate in with my cats and he could live out his last couple of years with us.
But he didn’t. He and my Nancy decided to have an epic rivalry and were at each other’s throats constantly.
I knew I couldn’t in good faith keep him here.
So, this morning at 7:30 we sent him off after a month of trying to settle him in. His original owner found a family member to take him, but my son and I were sad to see him go all the same.
While I definitely can see myself as a crazy person, I have a real heart for animals. Having written it all out I’m hoping that it might seem less crazy to outside eyes.
However, I don’t intend to get any more cats any time soon.