So, clearly a baby is a HUGE, life-altering addition to any family. Like, a forever commitment. You can't shove that thing back in. Can ya really compare cats to kids? In our sick, deluded world...in a word...sure. How? Let's break this down, shall we?
- Meal Time - Like clockwork, we are informed that it is DEFINITELY time to eat (even sooner, at times); what's more baby than that? This has evolved as we got more cats, but currently, as if elected by the other two, Beardslee bravely sits next to the bed awaiting my cell phone alarm to go off in the morning. (The others sit near the bedroom door, peering in, if they're not actually on the bed or looking out the window on the nearby chair - placed there specifically for that purpose.) On weekdays, Mommy isn't the "morning giver of food" (I do on weekends so that they don't get into the habit of bugging Dave every morning - they are, if nothing, creatures of habit), but the alarm signals that Daddy may just be getting up (on a good day) with the sole purpose - or so they think - of feeding them.
When I arrive home in the late afternoon from work, they're already clamoring for their evening meal. I make them wait until the scheduled time, which is around 5pm, but man do they cry until they get it. I have recently taken to giving Beardslee his first (he's a very slow eater, and often walks away unaware that Jasper
- Potty Time - This is on a schedule, too. It's well-known that when aforementioned Beardslee wanders away from his food in the morning, it's generally to take his morning constitutional. It's also annoyingly well-known that the second after we scoop the litter, he's in there messing it up. He has some strange sort of OCD (or another neurological disorder that the vet has dismissed...he'll just have to deal with it) that involves piling the litter but not actually using it...then licking the rim of the pan. Weird.
Oh, and we scoop (ie "change" - like a diaper, get it?) the litter several times a day. Since we use scoopable/flushable stuff, we like to flush small "batches" so that less harm will come to our system (not that we've had any problems from using it). So, we scoop it once or twice in the morning, I scoop when I get home from school, then we scoop before bed. On weekends, it's more frequent. Man, are we trained.
- Grown-Up Potty Time (ahem) - I think the last time I went to the bathroom alone in this house was when we just had Beardslee around. He's our polite, gives-you-your-personal-space guy. Actually, he prefers it, himself. "Don't get all up in mah grill, Mama. I nappin'." I get that look a lot.
ANYHOO, it is IMPOSSIBLE to "go potty" (yes, our language is already skewing in this direction) without someone (W or J) sticking their head through the door (or, at times, pushing it wide open so that they can run in to examine the tub *cough*Winston*cough). It's just a fact of life. And don't get me STARTED on how crazy I get if Winston isn't already in the bathroom when I start a shower. If he is, he prowls around, inspecting the built-in storage for awhile, only to happily settle down on my towel until I'm finished. If he's not, inevitably he WILL make his presence known, leaving the door wide open in the process. Dave doesn't understand my frustration, but when you're shaving your legs and you catch a cold breeze, it's not a fun time.
On a side note, Beardslee does on occasion traipse into the bathroom, but it's generally in one of those quiet, "Are you okay? Do you need help", sweet ways. It involves a rub up against the leg.
- Illnesses - Thanks to Beardslee, mostly, we're definitely prepared for traumatic doctor visits. He's just our chronically ill boy. The fact that he's still here is a miracle, so we'd do pretty much anything to keep him with us. Same with the other two (but they're much heartier). So, needless to say, we've made lots of doctor visits, and have taken full advantage of emergency services on weekends. Also, at any given time, we'll be administering an sinus pill to Beardslee (he has what Mommy has! Chronic sinusitis!), a cold pill to Jasper, and keeping up on regular Revolution and ear-cleaning (Boo, in particular, has one ear that makes his entire face smell like stinky cheese. He's our "stinky cheese man"! Anyone get that reference?)
The thing that bugs us the most lately is the fact that Beardslee has a wheezing convulsion thing that the doctors are currently assuming to be part of his sinus issue - but I'm definite is an asthmatic seizure. It's terrifying, and the helpless feeling that we all feel (well, Winston takes it as his chance to try to prey on his brother) that we can't help him will be tenfold when kids come along.
I've become an expert at shoving a pill down a throat. I guess the sheer ferocity of such an event has prepared me for SOMETHING involving kids. I know I'm ready for the gross stuff, and the "do I really have to do that?" stuff.
- Quirkiness - Kids are weird. Cats are weird. Their personalities are so distinct (especially before the kids at school have gotten to them and forced them to homogenize) it makes you laugh...and, at times, rip your hair out. Beardslee's our sensitive soul, but when he actually starts to play (y'know...right before one of his "attacks"), it's so out-of-character that we can't help but stare and giggle. Winston seems to have a tortured soul; he's evil and calculating and makes a weird "mmmm" noise to show disapproval, but when the other boys aren't around, he's the sweetest, smartest cat on Earth...it's like the teen years. Jasper's our nutjob. He chases his tail like a dog. He gets into EVERYTHING just to find food. He craves affection (from humans; he still won't return a Beardslee head butt). He simply makes us laugh (or scream, when he tips over garbage cans or begs for food like a dog or jumps on the shelves - which he's teaching to Winston!) will his silliness. His "duh" and "what'd I do, Mama?" and "OMG!!!" eyes almost never show an ounce of meanness. He just prefers humans to other kitties.
And who can say how strange our KIDS are gonna be one day?! Seriously! Hee hee...just for fun, and to see if anyone's still reading (blah blah blah, wrap this up, Meg)...if you know Dave and I...what do you think our kids WILL be like?
- Toys! - If you saw our living room right now, you'd see a basket under our coffee table dedicated to a couple dozen toys...then another dozen toys strewn throughout the first floor (and up the stairs). These kids are spoiled...but we want them to get exercise, so it's not like we're getting a kitty treadmill! Hand-in-hand with the toys is their other "gear": two perches on the front porch, strategically-placed furniture for prime viewing through windows, and a huge fish (aptly named "Big Fish" - all toys must have names, says Mama) from our awesome friends B&B that they can run through and crinkle, but only comes out occasionally to play. There are other "dejected" toys that are stored in bins in our cellar, near the 2 carrying crates we have. (We don't have 3, mostly because they don't ALL go to the vet at the same time. If we had a fire, I figured they'd all go in the car, one without his crate - probably Boo, since he's chunky and slow-moving. Wow. I have a fire plan. I've thought this out!) Gee, I wonder where all the kids' toys will go. ;-)
- Naughtiness (ie Discipline) - I love our cats. They're sweet and well-behaved...when company's over. On an average day, however, I do find myself yelling at them as if they were my worst class at school. The dumping of garbage and the jumping upon countertops (and in the sink) makes my blood boil, but here's one example of a recent "GAH!" moment:
I was taking a shower in the evening earlier this week, and had left a pile of my clothes on the bathroom floor. Since my hair was in a ponytail, I buried the hair-tie (ie elastic) deep within the pile, thinking cleverly that Winston would never find it in there. Just as I was ending my shower, I heard the door creak open and looked out to see that Winston's hair-tie radar was in working order; he was nibbling it already. I shouted, and he (as if playing a game) athletically ran out the door and downstairs, hair-tie dangling from his vampire teeth. I threw on my towel and chased after him, leaving everything in my path (floors, carpets, walls) soaked. I didn't want him to choke on it, after all. He was quite peeved when I retrieved it, but I think I was moreso. My husband couldn't contain his giggles when I told him, later that night.
Discipline is hard. Tapping a kid (or cat) on the bottom hardly accomplishes anything when it's done at an age that they simply don't understand - for cats, this age never comes. A water bottle works, generally, but doesn't fix some of the hardest challenges altogether. This has to be one of the worst parts of "parenting", besides being unable to help when they're sick. And EVERYONE has opinions.
- "Why Can't I Have Nice Things?!" - I think this is a quote from every mom I've ever known. Oh, so true. Our guys aren't de-clawed, and they never will be. For the most part, Beardslee and Winston have the scratching post thing down (although even Boo occasionally uses my antique trunk...but that's got a "weathered and worn" look going on, so I'm not too bothered by it). Jasper's another story, using any carpet, slipcover, etc he can find to "scratch it out." Heck, it took Boo and Wee Wee awhile to get the hang of it; I'm holding out hope for Jasper...and for the shower curtain that Beardslee snagged when he didn't have the hang of it. And he did it so casually, as if he was stretching, which makes it worse not to get mad over.
Oh, and I'm still trying to determine how to get crusted-on cat snot out of fabric. I've washed it off the walls, windows, and woodwork, but our comforter and several other fabrics are another story. Thank goodness Jasper's feeling better, at least.
- Snugglability (new word, 10 points!) and Cuteness - As with kids AND pets, it seems, cuteness, lovability and the deep connection from snuggle time together can make any altercation or infraction, no matter how big or how little, melt away. Most of the "negatives" I noted above are now thought of as funny anecdotes...most. Our Jasper Dale will let me hold him in the fetal position and purrs to show he won't scratch my eyes out for it. Our Winston Churchill helps his daddy pick out clothes for work (you think I'm kidding) and shows his trust by laying on his back and stretching out. (Both of our naughty boys have taken to finding a spot to sleep next to and/or on our legs late at night...) Our Beardslee Moore looks directly into our minds and souls with his eyes and can read that a head butt is highly necessary.
So, while I'm fully aware that parenthood is a different sport altogether, I think that we've at least been playing the Little League version for awhile. I hear the varsity game is rough, but a lot of it is a learning process that takes on the field, during the game. And our little mascots will help us keep it real along the way.