I don’t even know where to start with this.
As some of you know, I adopted a cat back in May. I will go on record as saying I’m not really a cat person. That’s not to say I don’t like cats, but the idea of having one as a pet wasn’t something I’d ever considered. I don’t actually mind being alone for the overwhelming majority of my day, so having a pet running around the house isn’t something I’ve ever had a need for; let me tell you there have been some huge adjustments over the past six months.
And so, because I have nothing better to talk about, here’s the life of Chives.
First things first: here is Chives.
I was originally going to call her something really stupid like Qat, but Miranda advised that could prove somewhat problematic. Firstly, most people would look at me like I had a hole in my head. Secondly, if she ever got picked up at the shelter, then calling her over by name could prove difficult as some people exclusively refer to their animal with “cat.” So I decided to go with Chives which seems to fit quite well, but is also a reference that I’m not going to explain as the idea of some you pulling your hair out over me not elaborating is incredibly fulfilling.
The first time Mir and I encountered Chives, she was hiding under a tree in someone’s front yard along our typical walking route. She came over to say hello, which is fairly rare behaviour in street cats, so we assumed she belonged to someone as an outdoor cat. However, she was pretty beat up and appeared to have some kind of eye infection. Mir thought about picking her up to nurse her back to health, but she already lived in a two cat household, and wasn’t entirely certain about the logistics of having a third cat running around. Plus, with how friendly Chives was acting, we weren’t certain she was a stray and abducting someone’s cat wasn’t on the books that afternoon.
We left Chives there under that tree, but obviously ran into her again. Between our first and second encounter I’d thought back to the poor creature and decided that if I saw it again I’d take it home. Having never been a pet owner, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to take a stray home, but the state of her right eye had me a little worried.
Approximately four weeks later, Mir and I ran into Chives again, this time sleeping in the unkept garden of a recently sold house. We knew it was the same cat because of her distinctive fur pattern, friendly demeanor, and her infected eye (which looked far worse than the previous time we’d run into her). She was using her inner eyelid to protect it, but also couldn’t manage more than a squint. Seeing as how she clearly hadn’t been looked after, we scooped her up off the streets and true to my word I adopted her.
Turns out adopting a cat is really easy. All you need to do is put them in your house and as long as they don’t belong to anyone else, they’re now your cat. Huzzah!
That’s more or less how I, a person with no interest in owning a cat, became a cat owner. However, the story of Chives does not end there. No. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was only the beginning.
When we dropped Chives off at my apartment she seemed fairly content with her new living space. I spend most of my time on the weekends over at Mir’s place, but given we had a new creature roaming my apartment, we thought it might be a good idea to be there with her. Chives spent most of the day curled up on me, sleeping, while we watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This had me convinced that I’d scored the cat lottery and found a super chill lap cat, but this was merely a ruse and Chives would pull the ultimate bait and switch less than a week later.
Chives is a wild child.
My dreams of a super cuddly lap cat were dashed the following week when I decided to play with Chives for the first time. This cat can run. A lot. I have to exercise her for anywhere between two and three hours a day, with about half of the time being spent on running and the other half on hunting simulations. She can’t keep running forever so the running is broken into ten minute chunks, followed by a recovery period where I either have her attack a feather toy on one of her cat trees, attack an old sweater I have draped over a chair beside my desk, or hide a toy in the couch. This helps her burn most of her energy while keeping her mentally stimulated enough to sleep throughout the night.
This regiment of play also means that I’m Chives’ favourite toy. I guess I can’t fault her too much in that department because I also prefer playing human opponents (in fighting games), so I guess she just takes after me in that regard. It has certainly been interesting watching her adapt to the various methods and tricks I’ve put her through during play though. Mir’s favourite is how Chives will do a star jump to try and catch wand toys when she has either of us cornered. Mir calls it “popcorn” because Chives will explode like popcorn. It’s pretty entertaining to see honestly.
Anyway, we took Chives to the vet in relatively short order after adopting her, because we had to figure out what was going on with her eye. Apparently it was cat herpes. This is pretty common in outdoor cats, and left untreated, it can get really bad. Don’t Google image search what late stage cat herpes looks like. I did and the images will forever haunt my nightmares. Luckily, despite how bad Chives looked, we’d be able to help her; so we started on some antiviral medication while we waited for an order of eye drops to come in.
Contrary to the numerous memes online, I had a really easy time administering the medicine at first. I tried doing what the vet recommended, which involved restraining Chives, opening her mouth, and shoving the pill down, but that caused me to have a mental breakdown from the stress of doing it. Much to my surprise however, Chives began willingly taking the pills because she associated taking a pill with getting fed. So for a couple weeks, she took her medicine like a good little kitty, which saved me from having to do it until I was mentally prepared to take on the task.
Unfortunately, once we introduced eye drops, Chives’ willingness to participate went down significantly. She stopped taking her pills and would actively hide whenever I had the eyedropper in hand. She also wouldn’t willingly purrito so I had to invent a new way to restrain her: sitting on her. No, I don’t actually sit on my cat. Rather, I trap her between my legs so that she’s nice and secure and then squish her under my bum so she can’t move. Given her propensity to run, this made catching her rather easy and she was secure so I could actually administer her medicine as required.
After ten weeks of doing this twice a day, I’d finally gotten Chives’ eye to a point where it seemed to have stabilized. You can still see the permanent damage that was done, but she wasn’t squinting all the time and had a lot of energy so I concluded this was as good as it was going to get.
So that was the end of the medical stuff, right? Ha. No.
Around the time that I’d gotten her eye under control, Chives started peeing outside of her litter box. Luckily for me she was peeing in the shower, so cleaning was really easy, but I figured something else must be wrong. We took her back to the vet’s to have her checked out, but the tests they ran came back negative meaning she was doing okay.
Since the results were negative, the vet concluded the inappropriate peeing must be stress related. As I’ve come to understand it, cats start to do really weird shit when they experience high levels of stress, including but not limited to: peeing outside the litter box, ripping out their fur, and acting out toward other members of the household. The assumption was, that as a new pet owner, I wasn’t doing enough for Chives thus she’d taken to peeing in my shower.
To remedy this behaviour problem, I cat-ified my entire apartment. At the time of writing, Chives has a scratching post, window balcony, two different cat trees, two litter boxes, a tunnel, a cube, and several toys that I rotate around every two to three weeks. My desk is also loaded with various human operated toys which, as previously mentioned, are her favourite because I operate them and that’s a lot more fun than simply batting a spring all over shit’s creation.
Regardless, Chives continued to pee outside of her boxes. It didn’t seem to matter how enriched her environment became, or how often I played with her, she continued to tinkle in the shower. By this point I’d been dealing with her accidents for over a month and was losing my patience.
It was around this time that my buddy Charlie (the same one I’ve mentioned before) asked if Chives had been spayed. He figured she was spraying around the apartment in preparation for going into heat. For as much shit as I give Charlie on the regular, I have to give it up, because we’d later find out he was completely correct. A week or two after he suggested Chives was preparing to go into heat, she began roaming around the apartment aggressively howling at all hours of the day. Oh what a time to be alive.
You know what the real piss off is though? How did the cat experts get beat-out by Charlie? Like actually. Talk about overthinking a problem. They were so convinced I wasn’t doing a good enough job that a fairly obvious alternative cause was never considered throughout the almost six weeks that I’d been dealing with Chives peeing in my shower.
Anyway, by about the middle of October, two and a half weeks later, I was able to take Chives in to have her insides scooped out. I’m happy to report that after nine weeks of being terrorized by Chives, I was finally free of the peeing menace. She has been a good kitty and resumed peeing in her designated spots, though I have to figure she enjoys having the two boxes as she uses them equally.
In the weeks following, I was hoping she’d calm down a bit as I read that was a side effect of the surgery. She didn’t. She’s still the white goblin of terror. At this point I’m guessing she’s a lot younger than I originally thought, but it might just be in her nature to be an extremely active cat.
Recently it dawned on me that Chives might just be easily bored, which would indicate that she’s a lot smarter than I’d been giving her credit for. As such, I started training her to perform tricks. In a little under a week I’ve taught her to sit and shake paws for food. She’s not perfect at it, but she only needs the promise of food to raise her left paw to shake my hand. The next step will be working on consistency and getting her to perform the trick without food as an incentive every single time. Once I get this sorted out, who knows what’ll be next, but if I can get her to perform anything truly amazing I suppose I’ll have to share it on social media.
I suppose that’s more or less it. Adopting Chives hasn’t been a walk in the park, especially not for a first time pet owner. Between the medicine, peeing, and heat I think I’ve dealt with more shit in six months than most cat owners ever deal with across their cat’s lifetime. However, I do miss the tiny white goblin when I’m at Miranda’s place on the weekends, so obviously she’s had some positive impact on my life. Her soft coat, stabilized eye, and the frequency with which she sits on me to sleep and rumble tells me she also enjoys my company so I guess this is just the way my life is for now.
Do you have a cat? Was any of this shit show relatable to you? Share your stories. I’d like to read them if you’ve got the time to share them.