The Ex is allergic to cats. Violently. He once ended up in the ER (on Martha’s Vineyard, no less) from a reaction to his sister’s cats. I gave up my Charlie when we got serious; we had a cat for five weeks in Israel, which ended up at the Jerusalem SPCA. (Breathe easy, everyone, it’s a no-kill shelter, I made sure, and when I called to check on him, he’d been adopted.) And in 2008, the girls and I cried when we had to bring two lost kitties to a rescue because my garage wasn’t exactly a suitable foster environment.
“You can get a cat now,” he said, when the marriage ended. (He was trying to console me. Honest.)
I laughed. “Right. Our Best Friend would be WONDERFUL with cats. And I can barely afford his vet bills and food.”
Now here I am, two years post-break-up, with three cats.
When Momma and her kittens first arrived last June, we kept the basement door closed so Momma could nurse her babies in peace and security. I knew Our Best Friend wouldn’t eat them or anything, but he’s loud and rambunctious, and I thought he might present a mental health challenge for the felines.
We started bringing the kittens upstairs for short periods when they were about 10 weeks old. Polo was terrified, Draq less so. Around September we started to leave the basement door open again. The kittens were old enough to come up and down on their own, and had started meowing at the door. Momma stayed safely ensconced in the basement, and hid under the couch when OBF would come down with me.
Meanwhile, the kittens were getting braver. And Our Best Friend’s good nature shone through. The kittens batted his kibble across the floor and occasionally tried to eat it. They drank from his water bowl. And last week, while Our Best Friend slept curled up next to me on my bed, Draq walked across the pillow and tried to lick his ears. His ears twitched in his sleep, out of her reach. After a few attempts she gave up and curled up on me, right next to him.
If you had told me five years ago that our neurotic, reactive dog would go nose-to-nose with a kitten, tail wagging gently, I would not have believed it. If you told me they could drink from his bowl and sleep on his bed with impunity, I would have laughed. But for Our Best Friend, the kittens have become two more lambs in his flock. It’s routine now for Draq to brush against his leg as she walks by. For a dog who hates to be touched by other dogs, this is nothing short of a miracle to me.
And Momma Cat? Well, I got up at 2:30 a.m. a few weeks ago, and found Momma and both kittens curled up on the dog bed. I don’t know where Our Best Friend was sleeping, but wherever it was he was unconcerned about defending his territory. Momma now comes to the top of the stairs every morning to remind me about breakfast. Sometimes she gets bold and ventures into the living room or kitchen. If Our Best Friend ends up between her and the basement stairs, she will sidle past as far away as possible, spitting once in his direction before haring downstairs and vanishing under the guest room bed.
I suspect the day will come when I will find everyone piled up asleep in a heap. Even Momma might come around fully one day. After all, if Our Best Friend could go from nutjob to gentleman, there must be hope for her too.