Drowning in Cats and Dogs

I mentioned in my first post that I was fending off a grand total of 16 cats and dogs. Bouncing between my parents’ and my fiance’s parents’ house, I actually fend off a grand total of seventeen cats and ten dogs. My mother’s house contains seven dogs (three girls and four boys), all small breeds. The largest of these dogs is the Jack Russel mix and the terrier mix, who are roughly the same size. There are four male cats and four female cats. Also at my mother’s house are two birds (cockatiel and budgie), a chinchilla,  a rabbit, and a single fish.

At my fiance’s parents’ house are nine cats and in spite of the fact that I’ve lived there off and on for a year now I still can’t remember how many boys and girls there are, though I do remember their names if I sit and think long enough. They also have two large-breed Husky mixes and a medium-sized boxer mix. They also have an aquarium, and I’ve never sat down and counted all the fish.

How on God’s splendid planet did we end up with quite so many critters? Well, my mother is easily explained. She can’t let a critter go without a home and she gets attached so quickly and so easily that it’s impossible to tell her she can’t afford another critter. Admittedly, I love them all as well, but I could (relatively) easily give up all but the legal limit (four cats and dogs) if it came down to that. My mother, on the other hand…

In spite of the fact that my mother is stay-at-home, she is in a wheelchair and has major back problems, so she can’t always take care of the critters’ needs. In order to care for seven dogs and eight cats, we must keep a full cat food bowl (the dogs won’t eat dog food, even though I keep telling mom that it’s bad for their liver), and a five-gallon jug water bowl filled at all times. The litter boxes must be cleaned twice a day, no exceptions. The dogs must be let out every hour or two, round the clock. And each one must have their attention, daily.

Some of the critters are perfectly happy being left alone to their own devices. Two of the girl cats are bordering on feral even within the house, so much so that I must point out that they are still there when we count them. These two make appearances so rarely that I must wonder where they could possibly hide. One cat requires a lap to sit in. One will scratch you from head to toe if you try to pick him up at all.

Four of the dogs follow my mother without exception, crowding underneath her wheelchair with unfathomable agility. It takes a lot of effort, strangely, to not get ran over by one of her four tires. Yet these dogs do it, miraculously, on an hourly basis. One dog, the eldest, remains in my younger brother’s room. The only neutered male prefers my dad’s lap, and usually goes with him on trips around Kansas. Only when dad is gone does he join the Chair Crew under the wheelchair. The final dog is actually supposed to be mine, a little Yorkshire Terrier mix who I groom fairly short for her breed. She prefers my fiance, and when he isn’t around, she joins the Chair Crew.

Yes, I consider three of these critters mine. I’m not entirely certain that, when we finally do have the money to go out on our own again, the Yorkie will be going with us. My mother is far too attached. My two cats, however, are truly mine and prefer me. One is black and I’ve had him since he was born in 05. His name is Skylar. The other, Min-Min, is a brown tabby cat who comes to me when I call for him. He is actually Skylar’s son, born from one of my mother’s female cats. He is three years old.

I say we are drowning in cats and dogs, and truth told, we are. We sometimes slip up; the litter boxes don’t get clean; there are accidents every single night to be cleaned up come morning. I believe that giving up some of the critters would help, because there are only so many people willing to actually do this work. With me being pregnant, it’s taken a toll on the cleanliness of the house. (Can’t clean litter boxes.) But who among the dogs would I ask my mother to give up? The newest ones? The two puppies are better behaved than the older boys are. The misbehaving ones? We’ve had Chance and Junior since they were puppies.

As for the cats? If I knew it would help, I’d give up my own. As much as it would break my heart, I would. But going from eight cats to six really isn’t going to help, especially considering Sky and Min have both been better behaved than say, Shadow or Domino. But ask her to give up those two? Domino was a shelter cat on the way to euthanasia row. Shadow’s ear has curled and he has a nasty temperament. Who would take such a cat? And the feral girls? Who would want to spend the time coaxing them into a more pet-like existence? Cleo was already tossed out onto the street by her previous owner and she’s so old. Sassy is well-behaved.

If a police officer came up and told me we had to get rid of all but four cats and dogs… If I had to be brutally honest, I’d say one of the puppies (Bella), Rico (my dad’s dog), Domino the cat, and Odie the dog. And knowing the fact that the police would take them to the shelter would be the worst of all, because I know most of the dogs would be euthanized, and so would half the cats. The two ferals, Cleo (age), and probably Shadow (aggressive). The dogs… Chance and Furby would be killed.

Junior and Scruffy may have a chance, and so would Min, Sky, and Sassy. If mom wouldn’t protest so loudly, I would try to find them homes myself now.

But now you know why I put up with drowning in cats and dogs.