Thursday, February 02, 2017

What's new, pussycat?

Occasionally, it gets really cold in Colorado.

This may seem like a statement by Captain Obvious, but the weather in Denver is actually pretty mild, even in the winter. We get occasional patches of insanely cold temperatures, when the high is in the single digits (Fahrenheit, that is, so well below freezing), but most days in the winter the highs are in the 40s.

Anyway, when we get these superduper cold stretches, cute little mice make their way into my ancient house to keep warm. They are small and unobtrusive. We only see one or two. They seem harmless.

But still, they're mice, and I don't want them in my house.

So last week when it was freezing and the kids and I saw a mouse running under the couch in the living room, I said that I was going to get some traps or poison and get rid of them.

Josie immediately burst into tears. She loves the mice, thinks they're adorable, and wants to give them names. If she thinks there are mice downstairs, she'll descend from upstairs slowly so as not to startle them.

To memorialize the extent of her determined opposition, she went to my desk and started writing me notes.

I asked, "what about traps that don't kill the mice, but just enclose them so we can release them outside?"

"NO! I don't want them to be cold."


I posted about this exchange on Facebook, and after many suggestions from friends, I decided that the thing to do would be to get a cat.

I have never been a cat person. I don't hate them or anything, but I grew up with dogs and I love them and I understand them. I like my pets to be demonstrative and loving - big, dumb, slobbery and affectionate (like my men, right ladies?).

But the kids have been clamoring for a pet, and while I love dogs, I don't have the energy to take care of one right now. So a cat seemed to satisfy multiple needs - the kids' desire for an animal in the house, and my desire to deter mice from coming into the house, in a way that won't incur the wrath and disapproval of my daughter.

I don't know where to start, though. How does one pick out a cat? They're notoriously aloof, so how do you know which one to get?

I contacted a cat-owning friend of mine with these questions. He laughed at me.

"Are you picking out a cat or a Bengal tiger? The truth is, you don't really know what you're going to get. Go to the shelter, interact with a few of them, get the one you like, and hope for the best." He gave me pointers on litter and litter boxes, and the importance of having a bottle to spray water on the cat if it does something it shouldn't.

Friday night I went to Pet Smart and bought all the supplies. Saturday morning I went to the Dumb Friends League to pick out a cat. The nice lady sent me back to one of their big rooms where, she said, some of their friendlier, more mellow cats hang out. I walked in and was immediately drawn to this one:

I thought he was beautiful, and he was hanging out, purring and letting me scratch his head, leaning into my hand as I did so. I asked some of the volunteers about him, and they raved about how sweet and affectionate he is.

So I decided, "yep, he's the one." His name is Scooby (which is kind of a dumb name, so the kids and I are thinking of a new one - I don't get the sense that he gives a shit one way or the other). He's a year old. He was adopted and then returned to the shelter because the lady didn't like the fact that he's so affectionate.

After taking a day to wander around the house and get a sense of his surroundings, he has settled right in. He's lovely and likes to lie with his head in my hand. Occasionally he'll do something very cat-ish, like I'll move my arm an inch and he'll jump up and bolt out of the room, but I find it hilarious and charming.

He uses the litter box and behaves himself. I can leave the house and go skiing for a day, and I don't have to worry about him. As a former dog owner, this blows my mind.

And holy shit, the kids ADORE him. Like, Zeke couldn't go to sleep until after midnight last night because he was so pumped about the cat. We were late for school this morning because I couldn't get them to focus on getting dressed rather than on the cat.

"Mama, I can't focus on my clothes! I'm focusing on Scooby! He's so cute!" Josie gushed.

Plus I haven't seen a mouse since he arrived on the scene.

I kind of dig him.

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