On Hot Cats in the Summer, Vigilantly

It’s been a while since I’ve subjected you to cat pictures, but I didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten how much you all just love to stare at pictures of cats.

black cat

I realized last night that I’ve become the stereotypical female cat owner. Sure, he’s adorable, but I’m way over the top with how much I love him. I ordered him a cat bow-tie off the internet, which he wore for about twenty minutes one day. (In all fairness, the bow-tie was $3, including shipping, and it was twenty minutes of adorable, so I don’t regret it.) I catch myself referring to myself in the third person when I’m talking to him, as in “Mommy doesn’t have any wet food for you.”

I also realized that I don’t care whether or not anyone thinks that is ridiculous. He’s my son. I rescued him and I will love him. Seriously (and so incredibly selfishly), I love that he loves me.

In college, my roommate Emily used to call all cats “chicken nuggets”, so it was only a matter of time before it was shortened to chicken. Last week, Swisher said the word “chicken” and Carlos turned his head, confirming my worst fears that he may think his name is actually “chicken.” But then again, maybe not. It’s not like he responds to anything that isn’t “tsk tsk tsk” or the sound of a can or package of wet food being opened.

Wet food is like crack. He can’t resist; it gets him every time. Now that he knows that we have wet food in the house (it’s hot, and I like knowing that he’s getting a little more hydration and also some good protein), he won’t even run. He’ll bound out the door, but once he realizes that I’m not following, he’ll sashay back in and start the begging.

Swisher accidentally shut the door to my room one night, locking Carlos out and forcing him to sleep in the living room. Mike said that when he got up to go to work, Carlos was scratching at my door. Since then, he won’t sleep in my bed when Swisher is over. (But the minute Swisher leaves, he’s right back on his side of the bed, stretched out territorially, his head cocked back as though he’s wondering when I’m going to come keep him company.)

long black cat

The one drawback to loving a cat in the middle of summer? The shedding! Everywhere! White sheets? Don’t even think about it. (Yes, those are white sheets. The bottom, where Carlos likes to sleep, is no longer white. It’s cat-gray. It’s unpleasant for all of us.) Since all of my friends are allergic (except Jacob), I have to change my sheets or put new sheets down when anyone wants to sleep on our giant bean bag or on the couch or on the futon mattress. I have been doing so much laundry! I started to say, “On the plus side…” but then realized that there really isn’t one.

Until Colorado decides to cool down, I have a very hot, grumpy chicken on my hands, and I am one stressed out cat mother (the thought of heat stroke or dehydration, etc. is terrifying). We have fans everywhere, so hopefully when we’re gone, Carlos just parks himself in front of them and gets some good air. He has fresh water, food, and a dark closet in which he can look for quiet, cool spaces to hang out. But I can still tell he’s miserable. I gave him a cool bath the other day – just barely warm water, and he was dry in less than a half an hour. Maybe more cool baths are in store for us.

Cool baths and wet food are going to get us through the summer.

Side note:  I remember one of the vets at some point telling me that Carlos just looks like a feral cat, based on his facial features. I don’t remember what it is, and can’t verify to be sure that this statement is correct. I was doing some Googling and came across this link, in case any of you are curious about feral cats and the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release program) that took the tip of his ear.

As I read more and more about these sorts of programs, and especially since I know that he’s FIV+ (Cat AIDS!), the more it sinks in that we are both incredibly lucky. Carlos is lucky to be alive – had he been tested earlier for FIV and found to be positive, there is a high possibility that he could have been euthanized. He ended up at the no-kill shelter that is PAWS Chicago, whether it was through the TNR program or through other means, I’m not sure. After waiting for six months to be adopted (by me!), he’s a sweet, sassy, spoiled house cat who hopefully has a much better life than the one he had before. I could not have asked for a more challenging or entertaining companion.

If you’re looking for a pet, please look at the shelters first. There are some amazing used animals just waiting to find great homes. (I use “used animals” because I think it sounds cute, and not because I think the animals have any less value. Trust me, Carlos would not be the lovable smart-ass he is today without his street experience.)

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