Ok, so it’s no secret: I love cats. I mean, most people have a pet that they’re fond of, but I seriously could and usually do talk about cats all day. I’ve had a cat for as far back as I can remember and have only been without one for a couple of months – EVER. And when I haven’t had a cat, I’ve gone catsnatching (don’t worry, it’s not as sinister as it sounds… I don’t think). My ambition in life is to be a crazy cat lady. Perhaps not as crazy as that lady who cried over her cat obsession in her online dating video (Youtube it), but approaching that level.
Therefore, the title of this blog is probably no surprise to those who know me well or little.
But, it is inspired by a very specific set of behaviours seen in our newly adopted
in flurry of hormones and panic that I would never have another baby and another cat would make it all ok again cat, Gary. She* was adopted when one of Monster Major’s nursery girls needed to rehome her. She was really freaked out and spent the first two weeks hiding under the kitchen cabinets. We put food there for her and left her to it. Imagine that – ‘Fuck this, I’m not feeling life at the moment, I’m just going to take refuge in solitary darkness and have you bring me food. I’ll resurface when I feel ready’. Hell, if that sort of behaviour was acceptable in humans, I’d bloody do it every time my mother-in -law graced us with her presence… which in fairness, would be extremely infrequently, but you catch my drift.
Anyway, Gary did resurface, and she quickly decided, yep, life in the Monster household is bearable, I can get on board with this. Fast-forward four weeks, and we were successfully living life as a family of two cats. Or so we thought. Gary began to display some odd behaviour. I can’t quite remember the specifics but most notably, she was getting fat but wasn’t eating any more than usual. After a quick google, I suspected she may be up the duff, but having been assured when we adopted this unspayed female that she didn’t go outside, I had my doubts. A visit from a friend with cat procreation expertise, confirmed that (based on her, apparently, massively erect nipples) she had been an irresponsible floozy. Having discovered kitty gestation is approximately eight weeks, and having now had Gary for six, I knew the family growth was more than imminent. And I felt panicked.
But not Gary, she just carried on. No panic-buying 40 packs of wipes, only to realise you’re meant to use cotton wool. No frantically cooking all kinds of ridiculously vegetably one-pot ‘I’ll just be able to stick this in the oven from the freezer when I’m sleep deprived’ dishes, only to eat them that night. No waking 6 times a night to pee. No wanting to cry every time you have to roll over in bed. No goddamn pineapple, hot curries or hippo sex when you’ve decided you have had enough AND JUST GET THE FUCK OUT YOU WANKY, SHITTY BLOOD, ENERGY AND LIFE DRAINING FUCKING LEECH. No, Gary just carried on her merry way, sleeping peacefully for the largest part of the day, flexing to clean herself in ways I could only dream (damn bitch could probably perfectly trim her own bush and paint her own toenails if she’d have wanted to), and generally looking all elegant and glowing. Well, as much as an entirely black cat can glow.
And then, Gary’s time came. Having done this twice before, she was fairly pro at it. Apart from getting a little tetchy about where in the house she’d give birth, she breezed through the labour. I barely heard more than a few mews. She didn’t endure days of backache and braxton hicks, having to wonder ‘is this it, is this it?’, she didn’t have a contraction or two and call her hubby home from work, only to fart loudly and it amount to nothing, she didn’t moo ‘SSSSSHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT’ through a contraction when she knew she should really be practising the hypnobirthing way of imagining her vagina opening like the petals of a rose. No, Gary didn’t shit in her own birthing pool, didn’t hyperventilate down a gas and air tube or beg for an epidural as the ring sting began. Nope, Gary gently took herself off (into a basket of my clothes) and effortlessly birthed Martha.
Gorgeous little Martha was Gary’s only kitten and she was this teeny gooey bundle when I peeked in. There was a bit of mess around her, you know, a bit of amniotic sac, a bit of placenta. But not the litres of blood that spewed out of my vagina post-birth and significantly fewer expletives passed Gary’s lips. What she felt compelled to do next (eat the placenta, umbilical, sac and goo), I don’t envy, but the neatness of the clean-up operation I do. Nobody had to give her a sponge bath because she was too weak to clean herself, nobody mopped blood from the floor and walls, nobody had to consult a colleague to try to piece together her placenta, and, most importantly, NO ONE SHONE A FUCKING TORCH BETWEEN HER FUCKING THIGHS AND TRIED TO RECONSTRUCT HER FRANKENSTEIN VAGINA.
Gary and Martha were the image of maternal bliss. Within no more than five minutes, both mother and babe were clean and snuggled together, Martha instinctively feeding as though the pair had been doing this forever. There was no need for a midwife to manipulate the offspring’s fragile skull whilst
agonisingly ‘massaging’ the mother’s breast. Gary didn’t take each wee to the nurses’ station to be examined, nor did she burden herself with the horrendous but secret guilt that she didn’t feel that overwhelming ‘rush’, that Hollywood moment of all Christmases come at once, that indescribable emotion that it seemed everyone told you ‘made it all worthwhile’. It really was an amazing thing to behold – they each just knew; it was all so effortless and this incredible peace and love seemed to encompass them both.
The weeks that followed continued much the same. I’m pretty sure Gary never spent 20 minutes triple checking the car seat because it just didn’t seem right. The lucky cow didn’t get a constant stream of visitors who were lovely and offered help but didn’t actually DO anything. (Sorry, Mum – you did, and A.B. you offered to wash up.) She didn’t get the Day 4 emotional fuckwit sobfest and she never had to lie on the sofa with her knickers down so that her nether regions could be inspected.
Gary spent her days snugly feeding her fluffy bundle (the bitch mastered the ‘lying down whilst sleeping’ feed in hours – that took me MONTHS!), and lovingly cleaning her. The only sleepless hours in the night were spent like this:
Martha: Mew, mew
Martha: Mewww, mew
Gary: Mew, mewww
(Presumably cat-language for: I love you, you’re so perfect, I’m so blessed, you’re a much better mother than that spotty, sweaty, dark-haired bitch that keeps coming and staring at us.)
Gary weaned and potty-trained Martha with the same effortless, innate knowledge that had brought her into the world. Why is it so much more complicated for humans? Why do we have to endure reflux, bottle refusal, baby-led bullshit, pull up pants, FUCKING JUST SIT ON THE FUCKING POTTY TO TAKE A SHIT YOU IMBECELE sticker charts? Why do animals get it so easy?
By this point, Martha was resembling something more like what you envisage when you imagine kittens. She was playful, inquisitive… bloody bonkers! Unfortunately, having no surviving siblings, Martha had only Gary to interact with, within this stage of her development. And, bless Gary, she tried her best. She showed more patience and forgiveness than I’d have done if my child had pounced on me and bitten my neck.
And then something remarkable happened. Overnight, Gary turned. She suddenly HATED Martha. She hissed whenever Martha came near, she chased her off, she hid from her. If push came to shove, she’d hit her. Gary literally couldn’t stand to be anywhere near Martha, not even in the same room.
Frustrated by the constantly hissing, yowling and clattering that their fracas caused, Husband Dearest and I sought viewpoints and advice from other cat/kitten owners. And it turned out it was pretty common. Female cats often repel their kittens around this point.
Can you imagine that? When your blighter pisses you off, being able to say ‘Go on then, sod off you twat, I’m done’, but like… actually doing it. Kind of, getting sick of this motherhood shite and deciding to take it all back…. and being able to. Realising you made a massive mistake and it being ok to erase it all. Of course, I
don’t think wouldn’t do that. But even to just have the option to, it might be nice. Might be scary too, because we potentially definitely would have taken this option up. Many times.
Martha went to live next door, where she is very happy and very lovely. And Gary stopped pissing all over the furniture and went back to normal. Except she lost weight post-baby and we had to offer her more food and pay her more attention.
And that, my friends, is why I wish I was a cat.