Wednesday, September 24, 2014

one year with Mona.

These last two months have had two major one-year milestones: one year of marriage in July and one year of home ownership/Minnesotan living in August. But it’s not over yet, folks. September marks one year that we’ve had our cat, Mona.
She came from James’s parents’ house. Their cat has a couple litters of kittens every year, and the kittens are always the cutest, fluffiest things you’ve ever seen. Mona was no exception. She was born last July, and she was a ball of fuzz.

James and I had never lived in a place where pets were allowed, so we had never even considered it. When we bought our house in Luverne, that meant that we could FINALLY have a pet. I wanted a dog so badly (and still do), but James and I simply aren’t around enough to give the dog the attention he’d deserve. We both commute to work, so the dog would be at home alone for at least ten hours a day. We also love to take road trips on weekends (true story: we only spent only two entire weekends at home this entire summer), which would prove much more difficult with a dog.

A cat would be a better option, but I thought a cat was out of the question. For years, James had thought that he was allergic to cats – his parents’ cats live outside, and whenever he’d play with them, his eyes would get itchy and he’d sneeze. I knew this, and I resigned myself to never having a housecat. I’d made it 26 years without one, so I knew I could survive. (SIGH.)

But then Mona came along. James saw her and fell in love. You could hold her in the palm of your hand, and she’d stretch out and flop upside down. James’s mom offered Mona to us, and James said, “Well… my eyes aren’t TOO itchy, so I bet I’d be ok! Let’s take her!”
(Turns out he’s not allergic to cats at all. James always played with the cats outside, so his allergies were just your regular old pollen and such.)

James’s brother Jesse was the one who gave Mona her name. (It’s important to note that Jesse doesn’t like cats.) James, Jesse, and I were sitting on the steps with the kittens, and we were trying to come up with a name for our new cat. “How about Mona?” Jesse said. “It’s the ugliest name I can think of.” He had once had a van named Mona, and somehow, it seemed perfect for our cat. Mona stuck.

We brought Mona home when she was two months old. We knew absolutely nothing about cats, so we didn’t think to get a cat carrier for the three-hour drive home. Mona sat in a paper box and mewed as we pulled out of the driveway. We felt terrible, so Mona spent the rest of the ride roaming around the car and sitting on our shoulders.
 She explored her new home with gusto and settled in nicely. She loved to nap on bellies and laps, and she was nothing but adorable. 
Until she wasn’t.

James and I quickly learned that kittens actually suck. Mona’s sweet cuddly phase lasted all of a week. As soon as she felt at home in the house, she let us know. Mona was a holy terror. She would bite our hands with her tiny kitten teeth and wait around corners to pounce on us when we came down the stairs. As she grew older, the higher her vertical became: she had been at our house for mere month, and she was already big enough to make the four-foot jump onto our kitchen counter.

Mona began to drag Kleenexes out of the garbage and chew them up, and she would take stray dollar bills and hide them.
This also happened. More than once.
We bought her countless toys, but she would manage to get them stuck behind or under something within seconds. I came home one day to find our gigantic aloe plant in the sink. Her little paws grew so strong that she learned how to open drawers – she even opened the door into the garage by sitting on a nearby shelf and jumping on the handle with all her weight. If Mona ever grows thumbs, we’re in serious trouble.

For all the mischief Mona got into, she still had her cute moments. She would climb into the dryer while I was folding clothes, or we’d find her sitting innocently in the sink.
Mona would cuddle you while you were sitting on the couch, and she’d rub up against your legs when you came home from work.

However, the mischief was far more prevalent than the cute. James and I assumed she’d grow out of it eventually – after all, she was still just a baby. For the first few months, we let her sleep on our bed. She would inevitably wake us up in the middle of night by a.) chewing on my hair, b.) climbing up on the headboard and then falling off, or c.) jumping on the dresser and swatting my earrings. I had to be the one to ban Mona from the bedroom, and for the sake of a good night’s sleep, I’m glad I did.

When James and I went to New Orleans in January, we left Mona with my parents. They had a great time with her – she snuggled on the couch and got off the table when Mom told her to. Our demon cat was a perfect angel for my parents (except when she climbed the Christmas tree). 

Why couldn’t she be that way at home?

In spring, our cat troubles increased. Mona’s eyes were watering all the time, so we took her to the vet – she had an upper respiratory infection, when meant liquid antibiotics and eye drops. A few weeks later, Mona began having accidents outside her litter box, so back to the vet we went. The vet informed us that Mona had crystals in her bladder and would need to be on special prescription bladder food for the rest of her life. Mona didn’t mind the change in food, but she did mind going to the vet. She spit and hissed – and REALLY didn’t like when she had to go back a month later when the problem came back. She had some kind of kidney infection, so we had to sneak pills into soft food and give her liver-flavored liquid antibiotics, which she didn’t appreciate in the least.

Because of all these problems, we had to put off spaying her until she was healthy. We experienced Mona in heat, and it was actually a nice change – instead of hunting us all the time, she would roll around on her back and want us to rub her belly. When you said, “Mona!” she would close her eyes and say, “Murrrr.”

We got Mona spayed in June, and she was pitiful for about a week… but then she was back in full force. Have you ever heard that spaying a cat makes them lazy? It’s not true. Mona no longer has a low gear. (And if she does, she only uses it when we’re not home.) Ever since she got spayed, Mona has been hunting us non-stop. She has a taste for flesh, so if you’re wearing shorts, she WILL come for your legs. She also likes to bite toes. We’ve tried everything to get her to stop biting us: from spray bottles to distracting her with toys to putting her in cat jail to verbal shaming, but nothing has worked (especially that last one).

Mona’s vertical has improved, too. She will leap up and wrap her freakishly strong little feet around your arm and latch on with her teeth. She jumps in the windows with absolutely no problem, and we find her on top of the fridge from time to time. Once, Mona jumped up and punched me in the face. No kidding.

Her biting has frustrated both of us to no end, and I've never been as mad at an animal as I have been with Mona. She only bites if there are two of us home - oddly, if it's just you and Mona, she will not only NOT bite you, but she will snuggle up on your lap. I can be totally furious with her, but all she has to do is settle in on my lap and start purring, and my heart just melts.
Damn that cat.
Mona does all sorts of typical cat things that are endearing enough for me to forget how mad I am at her after she bites. She loves to roll around on freshly vacuumed carpet and will sit in a paper bag for hours. Mona loves boxes and cramming into weird places.
We would find her in all sorts of nooks and crannies, so we started taking pictures of her and calling them “spot the cat.” James put them on Facebook, and they’ve been a huge hit.

Sometimes, he has people come up to him and say, “I couldn’t spot the cat! Where is she??” We might need to publish a book.

There’s not a whole lot that scares Mona. She will run away when you first turn the vacuum on, but she’ll come back to stare at it. I have a little wooden duck that you push around to make its feet flap. The first time we rolled that duck at her, she arched and hissed. “Hooray!” we thought. “When she bites us, we can just get out the duck!” But alas, it was not to be. After a few minutes of hissing and spitting, we turned around to find Mona nuzzling the duck. Dammit.

So after a year with Mona, we’ve got our fair share of puncture wounds, but we’ve also got plenty of fun “spot the cat” pictures. And Mona is nothing if not entertaining. She’ll get bursts of energy and zip all around the house making weird noises – until she runs into a door. Or she’ll trip down the stairs. Or she’ll go sliding off the table. Graceful? No. Hilarious? Yes.

Sometimes, I feel this overwhelming guilt that we didn't adopt a shelter cat. I volunteered with a cat rescue organization in Minneapolis and with the Humane Society in Sioux Falls, and there are so many wonderful cats everywhere that need homes. And we were the assholes who adopted the kitten because she was cute. However, she was a farm kitten, and judging from her less-than-intelligent behavior at home, she may have been a victim of natural selection if left in the wild. James assures me that we did the right thing by adopting Mona - the kittens at his house don't have the greatest survival rate thanks to cars, coyotes, and jealous feral cats. He says that the cute fluffy ones are the first one to go - I'm not sure if he's just making that up to make me feel better, but I'm going to choose to believe it. 

At this point in her life, Mona is just over a year old and is still a kitten, and we’re doing our best to keep that in mind. We’re anxiously awaiting the day when Mona is happy to sit on our laps and cuddle - without first giving us scar tissue. But for now, we’re just going to have to sit tight and wait it out. Mona may be an asshole, but she’s our asshole.

No comments:

Post a Comment