Friday, November 4, 2011

Evil, Thy Name is Seamus.

The toilet paper (which I got on super sale, with a coupon, at CVS): shredded.

My curtains: poked with holes.

Litter Box: dumped onto carpet.

Delicately placed seasonal decor: knocked over.

My favorite sweater: unraveled.

The laundry basket: spilled.

Fresh flowers in a vase: chewed.

My chicken sandwich: stolen.

My peaceful slumber: disturbed by yowling, meowing and wrestling.

You must be thinking, "girl, you've got kids." Sure do. That's not my problem. I have cats. Five of them. Five fearless felines. All of them are naughty, but one takes the cake. His name is Seamus. He's orange with some white accents, freckles and stripes. He's a year old and apparently trying out for the feline Olympics.

This past Summer we had the windows open quite a bit. The neighbors outside could occasionally hear the goings on inside. Because I'm loud. They assumed, based on what they heard, that my son's name was Seamus. They would say, "Hi, Seamus." My son would give them his best WTF look and ask them why the heck they called him "Seamus." The answer? "Well, we always hear your mom yelling, "Seamus! No!" or "Seamus, knock it off!" or "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Seamus, you'll be lucky to live another day." Yeah. Not an hour goes by without Seamus getting yelled at. Poor neighbors probably thought I was a nutcase. They probably think I'm even a bigger nutcase now that they know that was all directed at a cat.

Seamus came to me when he was a few weeks old. I had just punched out at work and walked up to the front desk to grab a piece of candy before leaving when a client brought him into the clinic after seeing him get hit by a car. He lived, she grabbed him and wrapped him in a towel. He was just a sweet little puff of orange with a bit of a road rash. We originally thought his leg was broken. We took radiographs of his whole kitten body - all 1.5 lbs of it - and found that his leg was not broken. Yay. Instead, his stomach and intestines were crammed through his diaphragm and into his chest cavity. Boo. A Diaphragmatic hernia. The lady who brought him in couldn't keep him and couldn't afford a donation to save him. The decision was made to get him a first class ticket to kitten heaven. Sigh. We know we can't save them all, no matter how heartbreaking the case. But there was something about this little bastard kitten that really got to me. It got to a co-worker, too. Before I left she was already talking about saving him. He'd need surgery to push his little intestines back where they belong and to repair his diaphragm. It can be pretty risky, especially for a tiny kitten. She talked one of the doctors into doing it. Long story (and some drama) short...we'd have the surgery done and I'd bring him home to live with us after he had recovered. His surgery was slated for the next day - all he had to do was hang on until then. His breathing got worse overnight. My friend/co-worker stayed up with him all night, keeping an eye on him and letting him sleep in her bra (it's a vet tech thing). The little bastard guy stayed strong through the night despite his difficulty breathing. The next day came and he had his surgery. I wasn't present. They called me to say he was getting started so I got ready and rushed over. By the time I got there, the surgery was done. The vet is that awesome. Seamus was recovering inside my friend's bra (seriously - it's a clinical thing - it's one of the best ways to keep the babies warm). He did well throughout the rest of the day and never looked back.

My friend kept him for a couple of weeks because I didn't want a newly sliced-open kitten in a house with a little kid and 4 other cats. I wanted him to be able to recover peacefully. The day came for him to come home and gave the pep talk that my 1st and oldest cat, Duncan, has heard many times before: "I'm bringing home a new kitten. It doesn't mean I love you any less. Mommy's heart is big and has room for all of you. I want you all to welcome him and get along." What? They're my kids, too.

That tiny, shy little kitten arrived home and took his time to bravely walk out of the carrier. He timidly checked out the room. I fed him a little and then he hid under my furniture for the rest of the day. I let him be. I've been through this many times before and I'm one of those people who will drop a new cat in the middle of the room and let them figure things out. Usually, after a day or two, everyone learns their place and there is peace in our feline kingdom. He was still hiding when I went to bed. I was so excited.

The next day, Seamus found his balls. And his personality. And his spunk. And his need to get into every little thing. He was a wild little boy, bouncing on the furniture, zig-zagging across the living room and dive-bombing any cat that crossed his path. My two girls, Amber and Amelia and one of my boys, Duncan, kept their distance. Gawain, my giant black and white boy, is just a fat lump of love who will tolerate anything, including the tiny kitten who was bouncing on his back. He'd indulge him by playing with him, letting him attack his tail or just plain snuggling him.

Seamus is Dennis the Menace in feline form. If there is trouble to be had then Seamus will have his fill. Something to get into? Seamus will be there. Humans to sabotage? Seamus is on it! Food to steal? There's Seamus. With my other cats, I never experienced walking into my bathroom to find a feline hanging upside down from the shower curtain rod. None of them would ever acknowledge human food. Seamus is like a starved dog. He begs like a dog. He steals like a raccoon. My other cats get yelled at now and then, but Seamus makes me seem like I'm auditioning for "Mommy Dearest." All of my cats know their names and will usually come when called. Seamus knows the word, "NO!" and knows it means his little butt better run. He has this attitude where he knows he survived taking on a 1 ton vehicle when he wasn't even two pounds and can, therefore, survive anything. He has swagger. Chicks dig him.

He tests my patience and my compassion for animals...And just as I'm about to lose it, he stops, looks at me with his big eyes and purrs. Heartmelt. Ever see Puss in Boots from "Shrek?" That's Seamus all the way. Just when I reach my boiling point with him, I'll look at those eyes and remember the brave little bastard kitten who had everything against him and wasn't expected to live. And I let him live another day.

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