Sunday, December 21, 2008

the kittens

just back from visiting my bro's new puppy, Bo, and the very disgruntled cat, Becky.

i call the cat Miss Kitty for two reasons. 1) she's got quite the temperment. i picture her as a dominatrix and 2) she's the second becky. it's weird for two cats in a row to have the same name.

becky 1 came to us when i was eight years old. i was such a miserable, lonely child. my parents thought a cat would be good for me.

becky was a beautiful sleek full-bred siamese. i named her after the most beautiful person i knew, a woman named rebecca.

unfortunately, becky the cat was a biter. she'd chase after all my mother's piano students, trying to chomp on their little fingers. she terrorized everyone.

my father thought all of this was hysterical. my parents were going thru a very nasty separation, except neither one of them would leave the house. for FIVE years. (and that's a story for another day.)

anyway, my dad hated all the piano students and possibly me and certainly my mother, so becky's little "love bites" tickled him endlessly.

i'd never asked for a cat and once she got nasty, i was terrified of her too. when my dad finally moved out (hallelujah) when i was 13, he took his beloved becky with him. i didn't see either of them for several years. somehow we got back in touch for a little bit when i was about 17

evidently, becky tortured their new neighborhood. folks at the local diner would talk about the awful cat who lived down the road. my dad, a creature of absolute habit, went to the diner every morning and chuckled to himself -- no one knew he was the owner of Terror Cat.

eventually, someone poisoned becky, the true love of my dad's life. i didn't see him cry when his brother died suddenly of a heart attack and his sister died the following week of cancer. with becky's death, he wept openly and often and vowed not to get another animal because of the pain of the loss.

fast forward more than 20 years, and my dad, in his late 80s adopted a rescue cat and named her Becky, the second love of his life. she's a biter too. after my dad's death, my brother took the cat and we all swear she's got my dad's temperment. she'll kiss you and love, then chomp hard on your nose. all of us wear Becky Bruises.

this post wasn't mean to be about the becky's. it got more involved than i expected. this post was meant to be about the kittens.

after a miserable childhood, i became a far, far more miserable teenager -- morose, mean, angry, sad, lonely. i gained 50 pounds, bingeing alone in the house, had no friends for years and despised my life. my mother, with her new horrible young drug addict lover, didn't know what to do with me. especially as she was spending more time in nyc with him than in nj with me. (i sound bitter, don't i? i still have the urge to say "sorry, mom".)

my mother had no idea what to do with me. bright idea -- she'd get me kittens.

i didn't want kittens. i was in no place to take care of animals -- i was a depressed kid who was having a rough time taking any kind of care of herself. my mother insisted they'd be good for me, and we'd be getting them whether i liked it or not. i didn't.

i named them mimi and mittens (i felt bad that mittens got a less fancy name, but she looked like a mitten), but i had no interest in them. i didn't want to care for them. cat food made me gag, and cleaning litter provokes a more severe reaction. even to this day, i get super nauseous if my family's away, and i have to feed Becky and change her litter. imagine me at 14.

the kittens came from a farm in minnesota (long story) and were probably too young to have been taken. they shit ALL over the house. all the time. when my mother was teaching, she'd throw them in the basement, so they wouldn't bother the students. eventually, they spent most of their time in the basement. alone.

i didn't know what to do. i didn't want these pooping machines but felt endless remorse and guilt about the horrible lives they were living. i tried to be nice to them, but i was such a troubled kid. i wanted nothing to do with them.

one day, i came home from school, and the kittens were gone. my mother told me that one of her piano students let them out accidentally, and they couldn't be found.

my heart races even now, knowing that whatever happened, it was no good for those kittens. and races harder, for the guilt i felt then and now at the great relief their disappearance brought.

we never spoke of them again.


  1. Oh, that is heartbreaking. Why don't parents listen to their kids when we say we don't want something? Why force it, and then the animals wont be happy?

    It is probably more that your mother sent them to the shelter, than they got out. How could they get out of the basement?

    This was a sad post. I don't know much about your relationship with your dad, but it didn't sound good. Kind of sweet that he loved that cat so much that he was distraught over losing her.

    Sometimes it takes a tiny little mean spirited cat to bring the heart out of a heartless person. He had one thing that loved him only.

    You were too young and sad to take care of two pets that were forced on you. Unfair to you, and to those kittens.

  2. thank you, karen. i've carried a lot of guilt for years. this was a terribly hard post to write. and to post. having no "crutches" now, everything is very, very raw. lots of memories are flooding back. my dad and i had almost no relationship, except his last words to me before he died were, "you're all right, kid". that meant a lot. and he did love his animals very much.

  3. i'm re-reading old blogs, so i can go through and change the boyfriends name (his wish, which i respect). i am reminded how much your support means to me.