As part of purging the denial, two weeks ago we undertook a major project. You see, we have a cat in our small spare room. A little backstory….
I have an 11 year old, dilute tortishell cat named Belle. Princess Tallulah Belle, to be exact. Belle is shy, skittish, and kind of persnickety. She generally doesn’t like people, but the few that she cares to know are loved so hard it hurts. Belle took to Brian with a fervor she had previously only shown for ice cream. She may be mine, but he is hers. Belle generally doesn’t mind Tiny, our dominant 25 pound gentle cat. Tiny rules the house with a gentle paw, never needing to assert herself and keeping order easily. Belle generally doesn’t like Merle, mostly because he acts like a perpetual 5 year old boy. He’s mischievous, hyperactive, and outgoing. He cannot understand why Belle doesn’t want to be chased around the house. So it was no great surprise when little cat fights starting being the norm.
What was surprising was when Belle, fastidious to a fault, started peeing wherever she pleased. And then doing worse. Eventually it got quite bad, and several rooms in our house smelled like cat urine in the worst way. Weekly carpet steamings were the norm as we struggled to keep things clean. And then, in January of this year, it happened. I bought a large storage ottoman for Brian’s video game stuff for his birthday. He opened it, and we went to dinner. We left the box on the floor downstairs until we got back. Several hours later, we returned home to find Belle (and the products of her bodily funtions. Plural.) trapped in the box. Merle sat outside, clearly waiting to chase her some more. Tiny was nearby, obviously distressed at her uncharacteristic lack of control of the situation. Belle has never been the same. She became timid, hiding under our bed and marking our room as her own. Literally. She fought everyone.
In addition to all this, constant UTIs became a struggle. We consulted our vet, and my friend Madhat who is a Vet Tech. Thank God for her — she gave us much better advice than anyone else and fielded my worried texts and emails for several months. The decision was reached to retrain Belle. She was placed in our spare room with a clean litter box, new bowls, and a gate to keep the others from opening the door (which they totally can do). This was somewhere around February. She learned to use the box again, and seemed to enjoy sleeping on the bed instead of under it. Then, another UTI hit. Once she got to the vet, we found out she had diabetes. The Diabeetus, even. It could account for her behavior issues, her peeing, and her aggression. We learned to give her insulin shots, trained some friends for back-ups, and moved forward. The change in Belle has been amazing, and after nine months we’re starting to move forward with reintegrating her very, very slowly. She roams the house in the evenings now, with the others sequestered with us. She’s interacted with Tiny, and we’re trusting Tiny to help her reintegrate with Merle. We realized that Brian travelling for work started most of her peeing, and that she needs attention from us on a much larger scale than we had previously known. So now we make a conscious effort to give her all of that. And a room of her own for as long as she needs it. She’s returned to being the spunky, loving cat I thought was lost forever.
Last weekend, we emptied Belle’s room. We took down the old twin sized bed we borrowed from Mama when we needed a bed for Brian’s sister to visit, and we took down my old bed in the other room. We moved all the furniture to the larger spare room, and cleaned the carpet in Belle’s room. Currently it only contains a chair, a small table for a lamp, and one slightly confused kitty. You see, this will be our spare room. My old bed will be moved in there, the twin sized one sent home to Mama, and everything else from our big spare room moved in with Belle in the little room. Nice and neat, with clean carpets and a retrained cat. Because the other room….is about to become a nursery.
When we finish moving the spare room over, the bigger room (already being called ‘the nursery’ around here) will be empty except for my Granny Alger’s old hutch. It was passed down to my grandma, and then my mama, and then to me. It’s not an antique, but it’s not new. I’m planning on painting it and adding new knobs to make it a changing table slash dresser. That room will be ready for a shopping spree. We’ve picked out a crib, and I’ve pinned a million ideas to get started on. I’ll finally slap some paint on the walls, and start putting all the things we’ve saved for four years to good use.
Already when I walk in that room, it feels different. Sure right now it contains 1 queen-sized mattress, 1 queen-sized box spring, 1 twin mattress, 1 twin bed frame (heavy wood, and bulky), 1 headboard & bed rails, extra bed rails my parents left at my house four years ago, linens for both beds, 1 hutch, 1 laundry basket full of misc. stuff, 1 drying rack and 1 basket full of actual laundry, a pile of mending, 1 dead TV en route to the dumpster (weighs 500 pounds and requires three grown men to move it), 1 wood desk full of….I don’t even know what because it’s Brian’s, 1 huge CD tower, 2 computers, 1 nightstand with stuff and about eight totes of stuff that’s either for the nursery or for the yardsale.
But soon? It’ll have a crib, and books, and toys, and a child who needs a home.