143: Adopting

I am an adopter. I adopt ideas, missions, projects, and kittens. I figure a grown cat is probably getting along OK on its own (or it would not BE a grown cat), so I do not adopt those. But I am a serious sucker for a mewling kitten, especially when it is cold and wet, or snowing, or if little bit looks poorly. I figure all children need a chance to grow up. The nice thing about adopting cats is that they are grateful. Unlike some (MOST) of the people I have tried to help in my lifetime.

This is not to say that cats are trouble-free, grateful children all the time. They make mistakes. Just like human children do. They break things, usually not on purpose, but the things get broken, nonetheless. They make messes: a flat rug on the floor is generally seen as a personal challenge. They adore running and skidding on a flat rug, rumpling it all up quite satisfactorily, and then playing hide-and-seek in the folds, pouncing on brothers and sisters under there. When I come home from work, there is not a flat rug left in the apartment, no, not one.

Kitty love

They knock things over, and they spill. This happens most often when playing, just like human children. They get lost outside, and have to be rescued. They get sick, and need medicine, and they are not any happier about getting medicine than the average human child: but they have claws. Speaking of claws, they scratch the furniture, and occasionally and USUALLY not on purpose (except for the medicine part), they scratch YOU. And they give love bites (little gentle ones) and they “make bread” on you.

For those of you not familiar with this, making bread is the nursing motion that very small kittens make on their mother. It is a rhythmic, massaging motion with both front paws, one after the other, very similar to the kneading motion that people make when making bread, hence the name. As long as you get no claw tips during the massage, it’s fine. However, the more enthusiastic the kneading motion, the more likely that you will get a few claw tips in there – YEOUCH!! It is hard to fuss, since you know that they are loving on you the best way that they know how, but it still smarts!

Cats live generally about 15-18 years, some longer. It really is like adopting a human child, except that the cats don’t ask for money and the car keys. That’s not to say that they don’t cost money, because they do. Part of being cats is the natural urge to reproduce. Cats that make the best pets are cats that have had that urge removed (unfortunately), especially if they are indoor cats. Outdoor cats still benefit from spaying or neutering, too, though, and tend to live longer than unaltered cats. This process costs money.

Male cats spray urine to mark their territory: they consider your house their territory, and they will spray their very strong-smelling urine inside on your things: walls, furniture, etc. It is a VERY difficult scent to get rid of, since it’s purpose is not to be gotten rid of. It’s like a signpost for other cats, even though there may be no other cats around. They still do it. Neutering takes care of this problem, as long as you have them neutered BEFORE they start spraying. About six to eight months of age should be about right. After they begin to spray, the neutering does not always work to stop it.

Female cats go into heat, and produce kittens exponentially. They NEVER have menopause, and continue to have kittens until death, though the number of kittens in a litter usually drops a bit with age. The worst part of heat is the noise. Females announce they are looking for a boyfriend. They meow, and meow, and meow, and MEOW. Loudly and fairly constantly. If not bred, they will cycle back into heat fairly quickly. And, you will quickly discover that nobody wants a kitten from your cat’s litter, unless your cats are registered pure-blooded and you are charging lots of money for one. Trust me, it is best to have them spayed. I recommend at about five to six months of age, and you must watch them before that to be sure that if they do go into heat (early) that no male gets to them. Or, you will be asking your friends do they want a kitten?

Once you have nipped the reproductive hormones in the bud, cats are great companions. They love you, entertain you and love you some more. And they will talk to you, and beg for treats, and greet you at the door, and accompany you to the bathroom. But they will never ask for money or the car keys, and they will never bring home an “F” on their report card.

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