Thursday, June 11, 2009


Once upon a time, we had two cats. Two cats that we adopted shortly after buying our house. We had lived in apartments for three years or so and were unable to have pets. So about two weeks after we moved in we trotted down to our local Humane Society and found Rufus. We fell in love with him. It was almost like he picked us, instead of the other way around. We took him into the little room they use to let prospective pet owners interact with the animals and found him to be a really loving cat.

Unfortunately, he had a hold placed on him. Which meant somebody else thought he was special too. If that person chose to adopt him, we would be out of luck. So we waited. For twenty-four hours, we fretted and worried and wondered, “Would he be ours?”

Luck was on our side; for whatever reason, the people who placed that hold decided to pass. Rufus was ours. I went down the very next evening after work to start the adoption process. When I got there, they had moved him to a very large cage in their lobby. Rufus was a big cat. Easily 15 pounds. So he was very visible. While I waited my turn at the adoption desk I went over and kneeled by his cage and spoke to him very softly. I asked him if he was ready to go to his new home. Now, in the time that we had spent with him prior, he had never once uttered a single “meow”. But on that day, at that moment he looked at me and howled “MAWR”. Which I took to mean, “Yes, get me the hell out of this cage!” So I did. I completed the paperwork, and went out and got my Rufus. He had to go through some last minute exams, temperature taking, and what not. Being a large cat, and being rather uncooperative at that time, it took 4 people just to get him into his carrier. But they did it and we were soon on our way to our home.

He settled in quickly, made the rounds of his new home, and eventually flopped on the bed with me to hang out and watch TV.

Because my husband and I both work during the day we felt a bit guilty about leaving him home alone. We thought having another cat there would make him feel less lonely. Enter LGK (Little Girl Kitty) or as she would sometimes be called, LBK (Little Bitch Kitty). Rufus was very accepting of her, in the mellow way that he had. I always said if he were a person, he’d be the surfer dude, who smoked weed and said “duuuude” a lot. He welcomed her to our home, his home. LGK/LBK unfortunately did not reciprocate his feelings. We did not anticipate how territorial she was or would become. She spent her first few months trying to mark her territory in the way that cats do. We tried lots of remedies, eventually finding a spray that did the trick. Problem solved, right? Well, sort of.

Things went along pretty well for the next six years. The two cats got along fairly well about 90% of the time. There would be a flare up and a fight once in a while, but over time it became fairly uneventful. Rufus was definitely MY cat. He loved to lay on me, near me, head bump me. If ever I was not feeling well, or had a bad day, he was right there to try to make it better. He always seemed to sense when I needed him most. I remember once when I injured my back, I was sent home from the ER after being given a shot of Demerol (woohoo). I passed out on the bed, to wake up hours later with him on my pillow, above my head, with both front paws framing my noggin. Watching me. Protecting me.

LGK/LBK on the other hand, was Daddy’s girl. She lived to lie on her Daddy’s lap. Anywhere he was, she wanted to be. And heaven help anyone, or any cat that got in her way.

So this was life for six years. Our cats were our babies, our “children”. We doted on them and we were one big happy family.

Then I got pregnant. Almost from the first, both cats seemed to sense something was different. As rooms got changed around, new furniture brought in, new, tiny little clothes purchased, they seemed to know there was a shift coming. And they did not know how to react to it. We tried to make them feel like they were still important to us, because they were. But they still seemed confused and agitated.

Then last June, we brought our beautiful baby Ava home. Their reaction at first was complete terror of her, followed by a marked indifference. We still tried to give them attention, but any parent of a newborn can tell you, after dealing with diapers, feeding and whatnot, there isn’t much time or energy left.

So once again, they acted out in the only way they knew how. They started marking. And marking. And marking. Our lovely home was being turned into a giant litter box. Eventually, urinating outside the box wasn’t enough. The litter box was shunned completely. We’d come out of our bedroom in the morning to find little poopy presents in the hallway.

We consulted with veterinarians. We called the Humane Society. We contacted shelters, literally scoured the internet. Tried every device and chemical known to mankind. But it. would.not.stop.

So we made the most difficult decision any pet owner can face. We had to surrender them. We tried No Kill shelters first. Unfortunately, it was kitten season, and every shelter within 100 miles of us was over capacity. Our only alternative, besides just tossing them outside was to take them back to the Humane Society we adopted them from. So that is what we did.

I have never cried so much or felt more guilt in my entire life. As I sit here now, recalling that God awful day I still feel an ache in my heart. I feel as though I failed. I spent six years telling them that this was their home, and it always would be. But I lied to them. I kissed them goodbye and handed them to strangers. I ripped them away from the home they loved. I spent weeks agonizing over it. I would break down and scream “what have I done” as I imagined them cold, lonely and terrified sitting once more in a cage. I would constantly visit the website, looking for their adoption listing, so that I could have some hope they weren’t immediately euthanized.

I know in my head, I did the right thing for my family, for my baby girl. A house full of urine and feces is not a safe place for a baby. Nor is it the way I would want to live. But my heart, oh my heart. There is and always will be a piece missing. The piece Rufus took with him.


  1. *hugs* That was such a hard decision, but you know you did the right thing--you have to worry about your daughter first.

    I don't want to give you false words of comfort, but I do want to tell you that I've been there, and I feel your pain. I did the same thing four years ago, and it tore me up.

    My beloved beagle never adjusted to my new baby, and she got really aggressive with him, barking, growling, and nipping. We tried everything to train her, but nothing worked. I couldn't bear to lock her up in a kennel or leave her outside all the time, so I took her back to the Humane Society, and I cried for days.

  2. That's such a hard decision to make. My mom gave away her nutty dog last year after he bit one of my kids. She knows it was the right thing to do, but that didn't make it any easier. I'm sorry!!!

  3. I am sorry. That really freaking sucks. My middle son has asthma, which forced us to move from where we were living (there was an issue with the building), the only place we could find to move in right away didn't allow dogs. We tried to find her a home, but ended up having to take her to the human society. I bawled more that day than I thought possible. I can totally feel your pain.

  4. I can't imagine having to give up my boy cat, Finn, who I think is a lot like your Rufus. I'm sorry that you had to make that choice.

  5. I'm so sorry hun. I know you did the right thing and how much it hurts. We gave up a dog because it was biting Thomas - we tried to train her but after 4 months and too many close calls...well, the decision was made. Luckily we had neighbours (with one grown son) who wanted her.

  6. Oh that is so hard. Sometimes with the dogs it just gets to be too much. I came close once but I backed out. It is just so hard with two kids and two dogs. Now I tell people don't get pets til after you decide to have kids.

  7. Oh hon, I'm sorry you had to do that. You did the right thing thought for Ava.

    I'm glad our cats adjusted very well to our daughter I don't know if I could have done what you had to do. It definitely takes strength.

    I'm sure they both found new loving homes, they sound like great cats.

  8. The same thing happened to us. We found our cats as small kittens in an apartment complex in Austin Texas. They traveled with us from Austin to Vermont and then to New York. They were our babies for a long time. When we moved into our house and they could smell, hear and see other cats outside they started marking the house. Before Jamison it was manageable. But finding your son's clothes and toys peed in, or finding your son sitting and playing in a puddle of pee just wasn't. They "retired" to VT at my parent's house. They wanted to be outdoor cats and in VT they could be. One is now gone to the wild, but the other still around. He sleeps all day inside and at night leaves to go outside and play and hunt. I miss them so much though, and because they peed all over the house I know we can't get another cat. We might not smell anything but I'm sure another cat will be able to.