Saturday, May 08, 2010


When I wrote my initial post about Muffet I was in the process of dropping into the depths of grief, panic, and depression. That is not a good time to adopt a new pet, particularly not when that pet is in heat.

Fortunately I was able to book an appointment at the vet's the next morning, and while waiting for my saintly parents to drive us there, I finally saw the GOOD side of Muffet.

Previously she'd been a manic, yowling demon...a drunken, sex-crazed lunatic without any pants or underwear to disguise the sight of her insatiable desire, a creature who I was afraid to even touch lest I set her off into another seizure of rolling and screaming and perhaps even spraying. In the morning she was still that, but she took time out to explore, purr, sit on my lap, and demonstrate her considerable intelligence.

To elaborate on Muffet's smarts:
  • After two attempts to sharpen her claws on my new chairs, and two gentle removals to her scratch pad, she returned to the scratch pad and has been using it exclusively.
  • "That's my litterbox? Okay, I'll poop there."
  • I couldn't figure out why she kept climbing around in my laundry basins, until I realized she recognized them as places where water comes from. Carrying her to her water dish has done the trick.
Since then she has been a constant observer of everything. Nothing I do escapes her notice. She even watches me in the mirror. Right now she is sitting on my desk in front of the computer monitor, watching me type this blog entry and no doubt learning to spell.

Anyway, I took her to the vet, and after a rigorous checkup (and a rabies shot) I was told that they could keep Muffet overnight and spay her, then I could pick her up on Saturday morning. Buck Animal Hospital, you people are WONDERFUL.

They also said that here's no way Muffet is two years old...more like one year old, which would explain her zest and zeal. Her narrow face, skinny body, and long legs also imply that she's part Siamese, hence her frequent and expressive (and potentially excessive) vocalizations.

I felt bad leaving Muffet with the vet for two days, but I was rapidly turning into a basket case, and for the interim I wept and wept and gradually pulled the pieces of my life back together.

And now, on Saturday, she's home.

First things first: Muffet likes and trusts me. From the moment I picked her up to this very moment now, she has come to me for comfort and affection and play. She purrs and purrs and purrs when I am around. This is wonderful.

Secondly, she's frightened of the environment -- the wind outside, the furnace noises, and footsteps on the stairs in particular -- but every hour she is more confident of this house. She still retreats to the basement whenever things get too hairy for her, but I no longer have to spend any time coaxing her out; I call and she comes (usually with a barrage of meows).

Third, she's still a raging ball of hormones, but not nearly the way she was before. Apparently it will take some time for her sex drive to go into neutral. This, coupled with her extreme reaction to catnip, makes me worry a bit about the state of her incision; I'm trying to distract her whenever she gets too wild, and she actually slept for a while in her fuzzy cat bed.

Finally, my other worry is her food: she isn't eating her Science Diet or the soft food that the vet provided, but in my experience cats don't eat like pigs anyway; I assume that when she's hungry she will eat, and eventually I'll fall back on the super-expensive kibble that the vet gave me (and which she happily ate in her crate when we were driving her home).

Muffet is a wonderful cat. I am returning to a point where I can even be a wonderful owner. She will be a handful: energetic, hungry for affection, and playful in a very kittenish way. She will be impossible to outwit, and she's so active that I'll need to be permanently watchful. In these ways she is nothing like the relaxed and stoic cat that Zsa Zsa was, whose response to adversity was "Oh well, I didn't care about that anyway."

But Muffet is also delightful and pleasant and sociable, and I see some indication that she can entertain herself when necessary. She's a much-need attraction and comfort, right now, when I absolutely need to be kept busy.

Muffet, thank you. You're not Zsa Zsa -- however much I probably wanted you to be a few days ago -- and you're not going to reduce the stress in my everyday life (especially as it relates to the huge wads of money I've spent and will need to continue to spend), but I'm very glad to have you and I'll do my best to be good to you.


Kimber said...

What a feel-good blog entry, Muffy. Muffet looks like she's got a bit of mischief in her, but that might be just what the doctor ordered to help you through your sorrow over losing Zsa Zsa. At any rate, she'll help you get some exercise!

I really am sorry for suggesting catnip if Muffet had a bad reaction to it. Yikes. I used to remember our cats going squirrelly for about 10 minutes and then lapsing into a state of blissful narcolepsy. Guess it's like pot for humans...everyone reacts differently!

GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Good news. Glad things are looking up a bit.

tanzi said...

Beautiful, Muffy. I am so glad things feel better. It does take time and there is also guilt involved when you have a new cat--not that there should be, of course. I remember almost telling a new cat that I would not be able to love him as much as my beloved Chaucer who met an untimely death. Well, needless to say that changed.


Adam Thornton said...

Muffet's reaction to catnip is instant and powerful, which would be perfectly fine if I weren't worried about her incision (which seems to be fine). All the catnip in the house has been incidental, since you can't escape catnip in cat products: toys, treats, her scratching post. Don't worry, Kim, she didn't get because you mentioned it!

And you're right, Tanzi, there is a strange, sad guilt, especially when I automatically call her the things that I called Zsa Zsa, and do the same things with her. I'm trying to stop using the same words, though I know of course that the only thing they hurt is me.

Gary said...

Sounds like good news on the cat front.

And, perhaps even more importantly, good news on Muffy's mind, too!

Adam Thornton said...

It definitely is! Now I have to find something ELSE to freak out about.

Dave Sailer said...

I'm not going to require you to read these two books, but if you do you might enjoy them, both about extraordinary cats:

1) "Homer's odyssey : a fearless feline tale, or how I learned about love and life with a blind wonder cat", by Gwen Cooper

2) "Dewey the library cat : a true story", by Vicki Myron

(And if you haven't already, OK?)

Syd said...

Getting a new cat is probably the best way to deal with the grief of losing one, but it makes for a dizzying experience for you both. Bless you for adopting Muffet from a shelter!

Cats do react differently to catnip (some 10% have no reaction at all) so it might be something to introduce later, after her hormones have quieted down.

You might want to try giving her a different brand of kibble, it might be the texture more than the expensive brand. My cat is a shelter cat too, and got used to eating crunchy stuff.

I'm sorry for your loss. Getting a new cat makes the tragedy bittersweet. Zsa Zsa will always be around in her way, Muffet herself is probably sniffing around looking for notes left behind about which perches and hidey holes are the most comfotable.

Take care!