I couldn’t figure out what was causing the hives.
Every time I would give the boys a bath, Wesley would suddenly become covered in hives and start itching from head to toe. He would eventually start crying, and I would dry him off quickly and put on his PJ’s.
This went on consistently every night.
Then one night, my husband gave the boys a bath, and he came out of the bathroom scratching his legs from the hem of his shorts to his socks. “I am itching like crazy,” he said, clawing at his skin. “So is Wesley.”
I looked at Wesley, who was rubbing at a red patch on the side of his throat.
“Oh no,” I said. “Are you guys allergic to cats?”
“I don’t think a cat allergy looks like this. Remember when Madi came over, and half her face was red and one eye was bloodshot?”
Madi and Bailey are the daughters of one of my best friends, and our boys have no idea that they aren’t actually cousins. The girls call me Aunt Natalie, and I hope they never grow out of that. One day while the girls were playing in Wesley’s room, Madi walked up to me with one eye beginning to swell, the whites completely red. It turns out she’s allergic to cats. She had climbed onto Wesley’s bed, where Shadow had been napping earlier that day, and immediately had a reaction.
“What do you think is the problem?” I asked my husband as he began rubbing the sole of one shoe against the opposite leg.
“Maybe we’re just allergic to her pee. The littler box is in the bathroom. We only itch like this when we’re in there.”
I picked up my phone. “OK, Google. Can people be allergic to cat pee?”
Minutes later, we came to the conclusion that the kitty litter was to blame. I began researching the cost of buying hypoallergenic kitty litter, and I literally heard my bank account start to cry.
“What can we do?” I asked.
“Maybe she can get used to doing her business outside. It’s either that, or we find another home for her.”
Wesley dropped to his knees. “Nooo! We can’t get rid of the cat! Her tail is so soft!”
Kris shot him a look. “She was an outside cat when we found her. Maybe instincts will kick in.”
I should have known that pure sass, not instinct, would inevitably kick in.
She was NOT happy about her litter box being moved.
Little by little each day, I would inch the litter box closer to the back door. Then one day, I placed it on the back porch.
The next time she needed to use the litter box, I opened the back door, and waited.
She glanced at the back porch, looked back and me, then sat down and glared at me with an expression that said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
I shrugged and just stood there, holding the door open, until she finally went out. I closed the door and peeked through the window. As soon as she squatted, she turned and glared at me.
When she was finished, I let her back inside and praised her.
She walked past me and ignored me.
After a couple of days, she stopped using the litter box on the back porch and found her own litter boxes in nature, and the official litter box went away forever.
That’s when the protesting began.
It started only occasionally. Instead of going to the back door to let me know she needed to go out, she would head into the bathroom and pee in the tub.
I would grumble as I cleaned it up, but told myself to be patient. She couldn’t possibly be doing it to intentionally annoy me.
Not my sweet itty bitty witty kitty.
Then she began pooping in the tub.
Enough is enough, I thought. How do you train a cat?
One method of discipline is to use a squirt gun, and give her a little stream of water when she broke the rules.
Yeah, right, I thought, and just imagined the whole scenario.
I take said plastic water gun. I squirt a tiny stream of water at itty bitty witty kitty. She claws my eyeballs out of their sockets.
One suggested method is to give the cat rewards when she obeys the rules.
Yeah right, I thought. How do you reward a cat that hates rewards? She turns her nose up at kitty treats (I’ve tried them). She doesn’t play with toys (waste of money). She refuses to use a scratching board and instead, uses the couch, which is right next to the scratching board (sorry, Heather – it was a very generous gift).
The next one made me crack up laughing until I cried. WebMD said, “You could even teach your cat to pee in the toilet and flush afterwards!”
I came up with the brilliant idea to just leave the bathroom doors closed.
Until it wasn’t.
One night, my husband and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. It was winter, but wasn’t cold enough for a fire, so we covered up with blankets. Shadow marched through the living room, stepped up onto the hearth, slipped into the fireplace, turned her back to us, and squatted in the ashes.
“What… Shadow!” Kris said, sitting up.”Stop! What are you doing?”
Oh, she didn’t stop.
She just turned and glared at him while she took her time finishing her business. Then she stood, delicately raked the ashes into a neat pile, and walked away, leaving a trail of tiny, ashy paw prints across the living room floor.
Kris and I looked at each other, dropped our jaws, and died laughing.
Shadow: 1, Inferior Humans: 0.
ROW80: Hi ROW80 community! My writing progress update isn’t as good as I’d hoped to report, but at least it isn’t zero. 🙂 I’ve been very sick for the last week. I’ve only written about 3,000 words in the last two weeks, but am just shy of the 40,000 word mark. That means I’m still on track for completing my first draft by May 1st! I’m so ready for the revision stage. Hope everyone else’s progress has gone well! High fives all around!