This is Barney. He’s a cat. He’s the reason why Lisa and I are having an extra long ride on the emotional rollercoaster that is Christmas time. For a long time we’ve wanted a pet that we could cuddle with. Fish just don’t come when you call them. So we decide that since Lisa was taking a few days off this week we’d get a kitten. The idea was that we’d both be around to make sure it learns to use the box properly. It turns out that the Monday after Christmas is the worse time of the year to go looking for a free kitten. We made a few calls to local shelters and they were either closed for the week or had no kittens. We ended up at an animal shelter in Salem where they didn’t have kittens but did have one 8 month old cat. Thinking we had our heart set on a kitten we decided to look at him anyway. We walked into the room and he stood up in his cage. He put his arm through the cage bars and swatted at Lisa’s long hair. I knew instantly that he was our cat.
He was originally with a family who had to give him up because of allergies. He spent two months with a foster family who box trained him and did a fine job of teaching him to stay off the kitchen counter. He’s neutered and vaccinated so at $80 bucks he’s a bargain. I’ve always said only a fool PAYS for a cat but I don’t mind making a tax deduct able donation that’s less then what a vet would charge for that kind of care.
Barney spent his first night in our master bathroom where he inspected all 144 square feet before he decided he liked the dirty bathmat the best. We let him out on Tuesday where he wandered around our bedroom and discovered he likes to terrorize the fish. We let him come downstairs and encouraged him to take full advantage of all the wonders that our McMansion has to offer. He likes to stand at the top of the entrance hall and look down on us as we walk by. He’s picked out a chair in the living room that he can call his own. He really likes to swat at the fish.
Late Tuesday afternoon we noticed his left eye was bothering him. After an hour it started to get weepy. We called my parents vet. I figured any doctor that can keep Elvis, my moms cat, alive after fighting raccoons and losing is the man to see. It turns out Barney has an eye and respiratory infection. The doctor gave him a good thorough checkup. The checkup included a very scary feline leukemia and AIDS test. The shelter had given him one and told us it was negative but that was when he first arrived at the shelter. Lisa almost broke down crying when the doctor ordered the test. Imagine falling in love with your pet and finding out you have to give it up right away. Luck is on Barney's side, the test was negative. To be on the safe side, he spent last night in the bathroom again. He spent this morning sleeping on our bed and now is wandering from room to room like he owns the house.
He’s still very much a kitten and likes to chase round balls, the kind with a bell inside and heavy golf balls. He prefers the surlyn covered golf balls to those covered in balata. Which I find odd as I would think the balata covering would be softer and give him better contact with the ball. I know it’s more time aloft with the surlyn covering but balata offers so much more control when putting out. He doesn’t like mouse shaped toys or the feather on a string but loves ribbon and Lisa’s long hair. The laser pointer is something he has to be in the mood for, even the brighter green pointer. He loves looking under things and into holes, under the counter, where the cushions in the couch meet, under the bed and so on. He’s not afraid of the robot vacuum cleaner and he’s not afraid of the Aibo robot dog. He likes to swipe at the Aibo’s tail as it wags but the ears clicking up and down sometimes startle him.
So we’ve finally got a cat and to see it get sick on the first day really gave us a scare. In 24 hours we went from pure elated joy to absolute fear and back to joy. I have no idea what we would have done if his feline leukemia test had come back positive. Luckily we’ll never face that possibility. Barney will be an indoor only cat.