Monday, April 16, 2007

Shoulda', Woulda', Coulda' (Meow/Hiss)

First no-brainer lesson of the day: Never tamper with a postpartum pussycat.

Second no-brainer lesson of the day: Never crawl to a spaying and neutering advocate for help when your fecund feline bubble finally bursts.

Both my family learned the hard way today, but especially my daughter. The puncture wound in her right nostril and raised claw marks on both her forearms serve as sharp reminders that I should have had Trixie the wonder tiger cat spayed after all.

I can see the droves of spaying and neutering advocates already, nodding in agreement that I’m the dumbest cat owner ever. Perhaps “nodding in agreement” doesn’t scratch the surface of their outrage, forgive the kitty cliché.

“How weak to think teaching your children about de’ birds an’ de’ bees is de way with de' kitty having de’ babies!” an animal behavioralist I called in a panic admonished me over the phone. “Dees’ attacks on your doubt-er', let dat’ be lesson enough ‘dat you should spay cat NOW!” Her thick Italian accent kept time with her increasing fury and volume, intensifying every rebuke she hurled in my direction.

"I suppose I wanted to teach them about the miracle of life," I said in response, feeling the need to defend my choice not to "fix" Trixie. "Birth can be a beautiful thing."

"Well, if you don't find homes for dees kitties, well, den' you have just teach your children de miracle of DEATH at de' pound, ey!?" Maryam, the animal "feelings" expert, shouted into the phone. "You have shown your children nutt-eeng but irresponsibility." (An expert in human feelings, perhaps Maryam is not.)

Poor Trixie, nervously adjusting to new motherhood in an environment not even I – one who gave birth to two of three children at home in bed – would choose. Children are loud. I didn’t allow them at my births for several reasons, noise being the first. Perhaps my home's continual din of irritating noises, as well as this morning’s jarring screaming fit from my moodiest child, Cheeks, have driven Trixie to emerge from her darkened, towel lined corner of the hallway closet to attack my two-year-old daughter.

Poor Pigtails. Trixie’s first clawing attack on her shocked me. I shook with nerves for a good fifteen minutes afterward. Pigtails took the clawing better than me, crying only for a minute or so, only to return to her beloved thumbs for some heavy self-soothing sucking (much like the time I accidentally shut her favorite thumb in the sliding minivan door).

Trixie's second attack was worse. She leapt up onto the black arm chair Pigtails quietly watched a Happy Feet DVD from. Out of the three children, the cat seems to have a vendetta for Pigtails only, which seems unfair because Pigtails hasn’t touched or disturbed her four kittens. She's the least interested in the kittens in our family of five.

If anyone should be assaulted in defense of Trixie’s new brood it should be me. I stupidly switched her bloodied towels out for fresh, clean ones and moved the kittens in the process. Major mistake.

Trixie’s instinctively protecting her young in a relatively hostile postpartum environment -- Hostile because of kid rackets, stomping feet and temper tantrums. My young are interfering with her young. This is Mother Nature at her most primal. My children are being children and our cat is being a cat.

While Trixie defends her young, I defend mine. Fearing another unprovoked scratch attack on Pigtails, I’ve shut defensive Trixie in the closet with her sleeping kittens. A Web cam my husband set up moments before her labor points a glowing eye in her direction. I’ll be able to see her claw at the door when she needs to get out to go to the cat box and will immediately respond. I’ll have time to put my daughter in her room behind closed doors, out of Trixie’s wary eyes and dodgy reach.

This is how I’m paying for my mistakes today. “That’s what you get,” spaying and neutering activists might censure. It’s true. But I never expected my daughter to bear the brunt of it.

Third no-brainer lesson of the day (and for the coming days): There are no winners when owners don’t fix their cats.



At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Ismyb said...

Poor little girl!

Didn't her mommy have a cat hanging off of her face when she was little too???

But I bet these kittens are to cute.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Em said...

Yeah, I'm all for that spaying and neutering stuff...but I bet you are a great pet owner. And your kittens will be loved. So I'm not gonna make any judgments about that stuff. I'm just gonna wish your daughter the best of luck as she runs and hides for the next few days. I'm sure the battle will end soon.

At 4:32 AM, Anonymous Suburban Oblivion said...

Because of she shelter situation I have to agree about having them spayed, but I have never heard of this happening! Wow! Hope your daughter is ok, and things get better there soon.

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Pendullum said...

Your poor daughter... I hope she is okay...
I have never heard of that happening before...

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Me either ... never heard of it. No new attacks today, although there was a hiss.

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Kim said...

That is ONE protective and territorial feline!

When our ChihuahuaX had puppies (we bought her pregnant by the way!) I tried to remove the dirty blanket but she carried all her babes to the laundry where I had put it, jumping off the sofa with them in her mouth in the process, with me just about having kittens thinking she was going to drop them!

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