My cat Panda is special. Special in that couple of fries short of a Happy Meal kind of way. There’s no deny she’s gorgeous with big hazel eyes and long, bunny soft fur. I adopted her my junior year of college when I was living with seven people and knew I needed a social cat that wouldn’t mind loud, obnoxious, drunk people. The problem is Panda enjoys being around people so much that now that I live in a quiet house where she’s home alone most of the day, she’s gone a little bonkers.
It started when I brought Ru home a year and a half ago. Although Panda had lived with a dog before and Ru was gentle and sweet with her, the stress of the new animal inspired Panda to think it would be a good idea if she would groom the shit out of her belly. Now her beautiful long hair is completely gone there and all that’s left is her pink skin (witness its naked pinkness below).
I’ve talked about it with the vet ad nauseum, who pretty much says unless she’s inflicting actual self harm, there’s no point in putting her on kitty drugs. I’ve tried using feliway collars and defusers, and although they seem to make her a bit happier, they don’t seem to help with the over grooming. More recently she’s started going to town on her back and now has giant patches of matching hair. I feel so helpless and like there’s nothing I can do.
My solution has been to spoil this cat friction’ rotten. I try playing with her (despite her general indifference) and have dropped major bucks on dozens of new cat toys she mostly doesn’t care about. She has constant access to an outdoor balcony, an automatic feeder that goes off at 7:30am and 6pm, a cat tree in the bedroom, and more recently, a cat tree in the living room as well. I’m trying to give her as much stimulation and regulation in her life as I possibly can, constantly worrying she’s not happy enough.
So right after I drop $120 on this giant new cat tree for the living room, my roommate tells me that Panda peed on a pile of his clean laundry. I couldn’t friction’ believe it, because she has never done anything like that before. I was so incredibly embarrassed and felt beyond horrible, yet was totally clueless as to what would cause this bizarre change of behavior. I assumed she must have been locked out of the bedroom where her litter box was and made the logical decision of peeing in the one room she never goes.
Then, as I was lying in bed Sunday morning, I look over and see her peeing two feet away from her litter box on these $100 jeans I had in a box and was planning on returning. I was furious, flew out of bed, and chased her down to strangle her little neck. I didn’t understand at all why this was happening – her litter box was clean, though not immaculate. She’d never been fussy about not peeing it before.
I did some research and decided that maybe all the nerotic-ness around cleanliness and over grooming had culminated in a distaste for the litter box if there was anything other than liter in there. I drove down to my local pet store and dropped $100 to buy an automatic litter box, which basically scoops any waste into a little bucket after she’s done doing her business. It’s absurdly loud, absurdly large, and absurdly expensive, but I’m kind of at my wit’s end when it comes to this damn cat.
But as I sit here, writing this blog post, Panda is tucked right up next to me purring up a storm. She looks up at me, staring in that unblinking way only a cat can stare, and occasionally reaching over to lick my fingers as I type. Adopting an animal is like getting married – you agree to take care of them for better or worse. Even if you shackle yourself to a neurotic nut-job.