DEAR PET LADY,
A couple of years ago, I adopted a kitten. Due to my lack of experience with the practical needs of cats and children, I didn't realize that my toddlers would torment the poor beast and try to drive their toy trucks in her litter box. The mess of cat litter and two kids in diapers overwhelmed me. I decided it would be easier for us and safer for her to move her outside where my kids couldn't try to hang her by her paws from dresser drawers. Later I took her to the vet, who said she had a bad case of ear mites and screamed at me about it. I still feel emotionally scarred by the experience; I didn't know the cat was sick or the risks of outdoor living.
Kitty comes inside to nap if she wants to, or climbs in my bedroom window at night to meow at me, then goes on her mysterious way. When visiting, she insists on sitting on my lap. She pals around with neighborhood cats. Sometimes there are audible fights, and I worry about her. I feed her twice a day; in general, she seems OK, but what do I know?
I've been flat broke for some time, but if I somehow scrape together the money to get her a checkup, will I be yelled at, threatened, and/or reported to the ASPCA if there is something wrong with her? If a vet gave her a clean bill of health, she could be an indoor pet again, now that one of my kids is out of diapers and they are taking an interest in feeding and petting her. I like her; she's a good cat—understandably skittish, yet extremely good-natured, affectionate, and tolerant of handling.
Bad Cat Mother
DEAR BAD CAT MOTHER,
The Pet Lady always finds it vexing that the good people doing good things worry over them, whilst the bad people doing bad things so seldom do. What do you know, you ask rhetorically, dear Bad Cat Mother. You know much, the P.L. hastens to assure you. At the risk of provoking the all-cats-should-be-indoor-cats faction, you are offering your Kitty a fine life, providing her with sustenance and the occasional lap. Your decision not to expose her to the sometimes aggressive, er, play of your little ones and to conserve your own sanity is hereby firmly endorsed; yes, nature is rife with mites, fights, and speeding cars, but contrariwise, indoors is lacking in cat pals as well as mysterious ways, and is full of miniature persons who like to plague fur friends by pulling tails. If Kitty appears OK, she is, in fact, OK.
A visit to the Pet Doctor would be a fine idea; the Humane Society may be able to assist you with lower-cost options in this regard. But more importantly, you are not Bad, sweet Bad Cat Mother; you are Good. You are a strong woman, bringing your little family along with limited resources, making fine choices in difficult circumstances. No one is permitted to bully or terrorize you—no one. If any human attempts to do so, you may firmly tell them exactly this and choose to discontinue the interaction. You may also tell them the Pet Lady has got your proverbial back, and if they want a genuine tangle, they may contact her care of this newspaper. Best to you and the babies, dear Good Mother!
The Pet Lady
Pet difficulty? Send photos and letters to The Pet Lady, c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104, or e-mail the firstname.lastname@example.org.U