(Cat)astrophic Thinking


Doctor Wagner rips the top page from her prescription pad and hands it to me. “Petie Arslanian” it says scrawled with blue ink in cursive along the top. I stare at it with a total lack of recognition, disoriented by the mash-up of names. As it slowly registers, a giggle escapes my lips.

It’s only after I lug all 20 pounds of my grey tuxedo cat home that the enormity of it hits me. Without legal proceedings or consent, the two furry creatures living in my house have assumed my last name (having been neutered, I couldn’t even call my Mom and tease her about the family name carrying on). These two live beings are completely under my care.

As I reflect on life with my two furry sons, it’s fair to say they’ve given me a glimpse into Motherhood of the more traditional kind.  Heck, maybe Petey and Kip are my dry run.

Foster Mom

When younger, I was convinced my mother needlessly tortured herself by concocting obscure scenarios that could befall my sister and I. Then I got cat (s).

Early into my fostering gig, I brought home three brownish-black kittens. A few hours into their stay I noticed things had gotten unusually quiet. Closets were emptied, furniture turned over, screens double-checked. No kitties. I even got down on my hands and knees to check the baseboards for holes around air conditioning units and heaters. The kittens were AWOL.

I told myself not to panic and assume the worse. Setting wet food out as bait, I went out to dinner convincing myself that by the time I got home the bowl would be licked clean and all three kittens would be scampering about.  They had to use the litter box at some point right?

3 hours later:

Returning from dinner I found the food  untouched and the litter undisturbed. I’d been level headed up until this point, but hysteria was creeping in. My friend E_____ was unlucky enough to be with me and together we turned the apartment upside-down.

Picture 3

Now you see us....now you don't.

Kip and Petie,  the resident cats, sat in the living room as if nothing were amiss. At first I watched them thinking they’d tip their hand and reveal the location of the kitties, but now I was reduced to begging them to “take me to the kitties!” not surprisingly I received blank stares in return. I was chastising myself for ever letting them out of the cage even though the cat people had assured me they would be fine.

My worst fears were: a) They had found a hole and burrowed into the walls of my apartment and I’d start smelling rotting kitty flesh in the coming days. b) They’d found a hole leading outside and were out on the streets of New York City.

Neither scenario was comforting and both meant I was not to be trusted with young lives.

7 hours:

It was close to midnight. Up to that point I’d managed to suspend reality, keeping my fears at bay. Drained and defeated I sat at the edge of the sofa dropped my head into my hands and began sobbing uncontrollably.  “It’ all myyy faaault. They’ll never (sob) let me (sob) foster again!”

Poor E___ stood frozen on the staircase unprepared with how to deal in this particular situation.  Finally he came to his senses, sat down next to me and putting his arm around my shoulder told me it would be okay. I drank myself to sleep.

16 hours:

I barely slept that night, waking up frequently in hopes of escaping my tormenting thoughts only to realize they weren’t dreams at all. Finally the sun rose and summoning my courage, I slowly walked down the stairs convinced I would find three little kitties eating or napping. Nothing. No kittens in sight.

With a pit in my stomach I sat on the top step and knew what I had to do. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I picked up my blackberry and dialed the cat people.

“Hi J____, sorry to call so early but…I’m not sure how to say this…I’ve umm…I’ve lost the kittens.”

“Ohhh, those little guys are such rascals, they probably just found a good hiding place. They’ll turn up in no time.” she replied.

“Um…no, you don’t understand,” I persisted. Just as I settled down to convince J___ of my crime, I saw something move from the corner of my eye. I looked down and saw a tiny head peaked out from under the  sofa. “Oh,” I said into the phone.  “Let’s pretend this call never happened.”

I hung up and ran to the sofa just in time to see three kittens scamper into a hole in the upholstery leading into the back of the sofa.  Now, this was the same sofa I’d sobbed on and, at one point had turned up on its end in an effort to find them. They must have been swinging by their little claws terrified, but not making a peep!

Initiated into the Club

My only job was to protect them and the possibility of having failed them made me sick to my stomach.  Because of cats, in my life, I was allowed a sneak peak into the paranoid world of furless-baby-moms everywhere:

What if the screens in the window become loose and they inadvertently lean against them, plummeting to their death?

How many sneezes constitute a cold?

Am I endangering their lives by brining fresh flowers into my apartment?

What if they eat the clumping litter and it solidifies inside of them?

I can’t even fathom the thought of losing your own flesh and blood. Going over the possibilities again and again – how it happened, where they could be, what you missed or could have done differently. It seems like a miracle as many of us survive past toddlerhood. So the next time I’m on a busy NYC sidewalk jostled aside by some aggressive stroller-pushing mother I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself they’re just moms too.

Thanks Mom, for taking such good care of us.


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39 Responses to (Cat)astrophic Thinking

  1. Freya says:

    You had me on the edge of my seat then! 🙂

    • Ihavecat says:

      Thanks for reading and visiting Freya! As always am open to suggestions for new posts etc! Hope i can keep you reading!

  2. Glogirly says:

    I have soooo been there. I once lost my cat in a completely empty apartment. Impossible? No. I was moving from Minneapolis to Fargo. I left first with a few suitcases and my cat. My dad and boyfriend followed a few hours behind with my furniture. I get to the apartment and let little Nicki out of his carrier to explore. He’s freaked out because he’s never been in an empty apartment. I let him be, just ignore him. All of a sudden, he’s gone. I mean GONE. I was so freaked out, I was looking in the refrigerator, the cupboards, the heat vents. I had left the apartment only once and was convinced he had slipped out and was gone forever in this horrible cold town. How do you lose an animal in a completely empty apartment with no bed or sofa to hide in or under? Hours later I greeted my dad and bf with huge sloppy tears. What had I done? They told me to calm down and breathe. My dad opened up the coat closet, noticed the hot water heater and got down on all fours to take a look behind it. There was a small hole in the wall, about one foot square. There were two wide eyes staring back at him from deep inside the wall. This was an old warehouse that had been renovated into apartments. The third floor. I thought for sure Nicki would plummet to his death somewhere inside the structure of the building. Nicki was terrified and wouldn’t come out. My bf had the longest arms so he stuck one in as far as it would go, just far enough to grab Nicki by the head.

    After that, we all needed a cocktail. Nicki included.

    • Ihavecat says:

      Glogirly –
      That sounds like a nightmare! You start to feel crazy right?! I can’t image having to live with the knowledge of being responsible for a lost or injured cat. Yikes!

    • Ihavecat says:

      SUper. This morning I closed my fridge on a foster cat. Thankfully I realized something was amiss because the door wouldn’t shut properly! Dangers await us everywhere!

    • Lady_Noremon says:

      D: I am glad you managed to find him, that would have been terrifying!

      I am also glad to hear of another male ‘Nicki’ with an ‘i’ [though ours is short for ‘Nicolas’]

  3. Christina Schmid says:

    Hahaha…As you know, a few weeks ago, my new babies found the exact same place to hide on Day 2 with me. I was so distraught that I convinced myself that I had accidentally thrown them out with my trash. I even went so far as to retrieve the trash bag from the mouse-infested garbage closet and proceeded to rummage through it looking for the kitties! 8 hours later, I heard cries coming from behind me–inside my couch. Little brats…

    • Ihavecat says:

      OH no! I don’t think I realized Little Leo and Piper had pulled the same trick! I knew they had vanished on you and you were rooting around through garbage! LOL Thanks for being so awesome and being a loyal reader 😉

  4. Anya says:

    LOVELY blog you have 🙂
    I love it,
    beautiful words written !!!
    I come back to read more

    • Ihavecat says:

      Thanks so much Anya i hope you decide to take a look at some of my older posts. It’s still a new blog but I try to post one a week. You can also subscribe to get email updates when a new post is uploaded (check out the right hand side of the page) towards the top.

  5. thren says:

    Two of my present herd of cats are black. The female is a champion at finding the most godawful places to hide, and close her eyes so that I have no chance of finding her. It is TERRIFYING. My place is a bit crowded, so looking for her involves rearranging stuff and moving things around. I fantasize about having a completely minimalist apartment in which cats would be easy to find.

    • Ihavecat says:

      I fostered a black cat recently and i understand now how difficult they are to fine! yes, especially when they close their eyes! you should scroll up and read GLOGIRLY’s story – terrifying!

  6. Pam says:

    Loved it ! The end made me teary – very well written – great story too! Been there with the feline and human ones – not fun either way,

  7. Rhonda says:

    I can not tell you the terror I felt after taking one of my cats out for a “walk” one day and he slipped the collar and went running. I searched for 3 hours. There were fields of hay on two sides of where I lived and I was terrified I would never see him again. Then I heard this little “mew” and there he was, at the back of the house in the woodpile.

    I get paranoid every time I go on vacation…..will the apartment catch on fire, will one of them get sick and not get to the vet on time. Will someone break in and they will get out. It is terrible. I would take them with me everywhere if I could.

    No……I am not a crazy cat lady……;)

    • Ihavecat says:

      Rhonda – Thanks for reading! I completely know what you mean! I need to get one of those stickers for my door that lets firemen know I have animals in the apartment! And how do you round up terrified cats during a fire anyway!? Don’t get me thinking about it!

  8. Glogirly says:

    Thanks for your comment on Katie’s “Sweater This” post. I can’t find the sweater now…gee, where could it be?

    You asked about cameras…
    Some of the photos from the blog are taken by me and my little point and shoot camera. But the really good ones have been shot by my husband. He’s as close to as a pro as you can be without actually doing it for a living. So his are shot with pro gear. It’s usually not hard to tell which photos are mine and which are his.

    The sweater shots were done with my little camera… part of the reason for the blog is to help me figure out how to get the most out of my camera. It’s a Leica D-Lux 3.

    My husband is a Nikon boy. Most recently, he took all the great photos of Katie in the red chair from the “At The Movies” post. He uses a D3, D3X and D700. He’s got more lenses than Katie has cat toys. And since he’s not really a “cat person” I have to do some big persuading in order for him to “waste” his pixels on a CAT. ; )

  9. Glogirly says:


    Big News!!!
    I’ve given you an award! Please swing by my blog to claim your “prize.”


  10. T,
    Thanks for your sweet comment.
    … and if you ever were in Minneapolis, you’d definitely be invited to one of my parties! I can totally empathize with you on the job thing. The only reason “Katie” has a blog is because I’m unemployed and need a creative outlet. I was laid off after 20 years in early 2008. The current job market is grim for a quirky designer of retail environments and specialty shops. Katie would probably love it if I never had to work. The bank, who owns the townhouse, well they would probably think otherwise.

    : )

  11. Julie says:

    A friend who owns my cat’s mother and sister lost the sister in the OVEN when she was a big kitten.
    She had put the oven on to heat up, turned around, turned back, shut the door and fortunately missed the kitten within a few minutes and thought to check. The oven had got warm but not enough to hurt the kitty. I have had nightmares ever since she told me and have always been extra careful when putting the oven on as I have five cats.

    • Ihavecat says:

      I can’t imagine! GOod thing I don’t bake or cook too much! Thanks for visiting! I guess there is truth to “curiousity killed the cat” eh?!

  12. Fisher says:

    Oh my that brings back a recent memory! We adopted a cat to join us in our condo. After less than a week she disappeared. No other explanation than she escaped through the door without us seeing it happen. She spent a week under the parking garage. Finally the Manager of our place spotted her. What a relief! Now when she looks at the front door, she sees a sign posted at eye level. A NO EXIT sign. Seems to work very well and all are happily homed for good.

    • Ihavecat says:

      Fisher, you must have a very smart cat if she can read! My boys would steamroller over it! I’m glad you stopped by to take a read – come back soon!

  13. Brian Burke says:

    Good job, kitty-saver!

    Two of my little rescues are tuxedos, and you can already tell the male will be big like your kitty. The little black one is a runt, not sure on the sex though, can’t pick them up yet, still coaxing with food.

  14. brandi says:

    sorry this is a late response, but you reminded me of what happened with my first cat in Minnesota when she was ill.
    The vet sent me to a regular pharmacy for a prescription for an antibotic. I was amazed and then laughed myself silly when they called for my cat with my last name- her prescription was ready!

  15. mimi says:

    i’ve been there many a time. it’s just the most horrible feeling.
    Riley my youngest was in a box in the garage for12 hours and wouldn’t say peep even after repeated and repeated calling. The garage has a screen across it and i know in my heart he couldn’t have gotten out of the house, but scoured the neighborhood and alerted all the neighbors and passersby to look for my kitty.

    so, after all this worry i do one more garage check and hear this meow!!!!!! he got into an empty box behind stuff and just sat there!!!!!!!! i keep the door to the house open and it still took him 30 min. to saunter inside!!!!

    Why do they do things like that to us????????

  16. Julie says:

    Your thing about the cats getting your last name at the vets reminded me: I once worked with a girl named Fiona Harrison, and she rehomed a neighbour’s cat named George.
    The implications never struck her until the first time she took him to the vets and the assistant called out for “George Harrison” in the waiting room.

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      OMG i am dying laffing right now! bah! love it! wish I could have been there! Thanks for commenting Julie!

  17. Lady_Noremon says:

    A few days after we got our kitten he had disappeared, we checked all over the house, and I have a chair with a loose slip cover over it and he had crawled up between the cover and the chair and laid stretched-out in the back so that nothing looked amiss. Kittens are fantastic at hiding and nosy D:

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      It is SERIOUS crazy-making stuff! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment! 🙂

  18. Anna says:

    We’ve “lost” our kitties more than once. Your world sort of comes to an end. Nothing is important except finding them. Each time I say OMG I cannot imagine if this was a child, and I realize it’s exactly like losing a child, if your kitties are your fur children.

    What they taught me:
    1. None were as far away as we thought.
    2. They were waiting til things quieted down, esp. our high emotional stress.
    3. They absolutely know their way back and will wait til it’s safe. They’ll jump the fences, crawl under whatever.
    4. Your being out and about gets other potentially dangerous critters out of their way. Like feral cats, possums, raccoons.
    5. Lights on, doors open, except for screen/security doors.
    6. Hunt for them with packets of freshly opened tuna fish.
    7. Print business cards with their pic/info and hand it out. Leave in mailboxes. Easier for someone to take with them.

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      It is absolutely a dreadful feeling. I was convinced those kittens had found a way into the wall and were going to get trapped in! They were so quiet it was amazing! Thanks for the tips and thanks for visiting I HAVE CAT and taking the time to comment Anna, hope to see you here again!

  19. Stefanie says:

    I found my cat trying to cross a very busy road when she was only 4 weeks old. I didn’t let her out of the living room at first because it seemed the safest room in the apartment. The first time I let her out of there over night, I couldn’t find her the next morning. I looked everywhere, under the couch, behind the bookshelves… I ended up finding her in a vase that was so deep she couldn’t get out of it alone. Another time, in an empty flower pot. I was scared shitless. Now she still scares me sometimes, the black cat with eyes closed problem, but I don’t freak out so much anymore.

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Hi Stefanie! Thanks for reading and taking the time to post! Your kitty was so lucky you found her! Your stories had me LOL-ing for real. Rascals they are! It’s so true though, the black ones are super hard to find sometimes! You should post a photo of her if you haven’t yet, on the I HAVE CAT FB page! http://www.facebook.com/ihavecat#!/ihavecat

  20. Rebecca says:

    I can’t wait to read all these stories (I know they’re going to be great) but first I want to tell you about my cat Heidi…she got her name due to her amazing hiding skills, which I didn’t know about until the first time I left the house after I brought her home. See, she loved me and my boyfriend so much from the start that we didn’t even know she was shy…until we got her home. We went out, came back, and – uh oh, where’s the cat? This was only the second day we’d had her and she didn’t even have a name yet. Finally, after turning the entire place upside-down, we found her hiding under the bedcovers, all flattened out with her arms stuck straight out at her sides, if you can picture that. Flat kitty. We soon learned that every time we left, she would hide until we came back. And she hid alright, she hid better than any cat I have ever known. She was a genius at getting herself into absolutely un-findable places.

    Heidi came out of her shell after several years, and she started allowing herself to be seen by people other than her “family.” One day our friend Shawn was over at the house and Heidi walked into the room…I guess this was at least seven years after we had gotten her…and he said, “Hey did you guys get a new cat?” I told him, “No, that’s the same cat we’ve always had; you’ve just never seen her!” Amazing.

    I found out a couple of months after we adopted her that the SPCA considered her possibly too skittish to be socialized and was considering euthanizing her. We seriously had no idea she was shy, she loved us so much right away. We didn’t even really plan on calling her Heidi, it was just a joke I made one day about her hiding. She was so ready for us to call her something, as soon as I called her “Heidi” she came running to me! And Heidi it was.

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      Hi Rebecca!
      Thanks so much for sharing the story about your cat Heidi – sounds like the perfect name for her. I can only imagine finding flat kitty…sweet thing! She’s so lucky you and your boyfriend found her and connected with her (and she with you!). That’s hysterical about your friend who thought you’d gotten a new cat! LOL! Some of my friends claim they’ve never seen my Petie!

      If you aren’t already a fan, please visit IHC on FB and you can post pictures of Heidi there for us to see! http://www.facebook.com/ihavecat

      Thanks so much for reading I HAVE CAT! Hope you enjoy the other posts and sign up for email updates! So nice “meeting” you and thanks again for taking the time to comment and share your kitty story!

      • Rebecca says:

        Thanks for your nice reply! I did what you suggested. 🙂

        Heidi was such a mess when we brought her home – she had an upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, abscesses, open sores all over her head and neck, ear mites, she was severely underweight, she was just a mess. I wish I had “before and after” photos but all my early pictures of her are blurry because as soon as I called her name to get her attention she would run to me faster than the camera could focus! She’s model-gorgeous now (or at least we think so).

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