There are two "spare" cats at my place right now, which would be two more than the usual limit of one. It's also what happens when your children go off to college and collect pets of their own that need babysitting over spring break. And when you're the only parent among several blended families that doesn't have someone deathly allergic to felines as an excuse to say "no thanks!"
Life has been a series of interesting adjustments roughly since last summer, when I put my brain on a shelf and brought home a new border collie-mix puppy to an empty nest. Within the first few days I began to feel like the single parent of a newborn, with all the desperation that implies. Lucky and I have survived the growing pains, as has Smokey, the pampered sixteen-pound housecat who was here first. But just as that ebb and flow reached equilibrium, Meatball moved in for a couple of months while my son finished up a grueling semester in engineering. Archimedes nailed it perfectly when he articulated the theory of "displacement." Smokey got displaced right out of my lap by Meatball, who could lap-sit for twenty four hours straight. Lucky had two cats to watch.
Then over Christmas my other son brought home a brand-new six-week-old kitten from an animal shelter. And with this many cats for the dog to be jealous of, and with the new kitten Finn displacing Meatball from the lap of honor, pandemonium reigned throughout the holidays. We hung very few Christmas ornaments, and moved half of those higher up the tree later anyway. Finn took to scampering up my pants leg and scrambling to the top of my shoulder to escape being trampled. He rode around like a pirate's pet parrot like that for three weeks.
Then everybody went back to school, and there was about a month and a half of serenity. Enter spring break. Meatball came home first, displacing Smokey from my lap. Finn arrived yesterday, displacing Meatball for prime nap space. Meatball is not amused, hissing at Finn like one of those small deadly dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Smokey is not amused either, hissing at Meatball the same way. I walk around in the middle of a scrum of paws and tails and ears and claws, with the occasional large kitten on my shoulder.
And Lucky is putting all that collie lineage to wor with a new job for the next few days, herding cats. He's finding it's not as easy as it looks in a beer commercial.
Causes Mary Wagner Supports
Washington County, Wisconsin Human Society
Crohns and Colitis Foundation
Chicago Writers Association