Felix Moves Out

May 17, 2005

From time to time, I get asked why I don't have any kids clinging to my britches as I push the stroller through Wal Mart. People don't actually word their question like that, but that's what I hear.

I understand that the joy of raising your children outweighs my ability to go to Vegas on a lark, eat dinner at nice restaurants without advance planning, or sitting outside in the silence while catching up on my reading. However, there are some signs that I might not be the world's best primary caregiver.


When Mrs. theskinnyandbenny and I first moved into our house, we had two cats: Oscar and Felix. They were nice, normal cats. I had started feeding them as stray kittens, and at some point, we moved, took them with us, and became responsible for their veternary care.

Our new house was on a very busy street. We took pains to keep the two cats inside, so they wouldn't join the legions of roadkill (mostly possums -- don't freak out) that litter our road. I went as far as to have a cat door installed for the upstairs balcony, so that they could go out there at their leisure.

Having prided himself as a good stray, Felix was annoyed with his captivity. He started urinating on our things to show his displeasure.

Oscar became stressed (presumably about close encounters with someone else's cat piss). He manifested this stress by getting a hormone imbalance, and starting to lose his fur.

We tried drugs. The vet perscribed an anti-depressant for Felix's anger, and cat birth control pills for Oscar's hormones.

(No shit, there really is such a thing as cat birth control pills.)

Felix and Oscar

After the first time I pulled it on him, Felix was too smart to be fooled by the "nasty pill hidden in the cheese" ruse. I started stuffing the pill down his mouth.

He was more stubborn than me. He held the pill as long as I would fight him, and spit it on the ground.

I took to griding the pill into a powder, adding a little water, and using an eye-dropper to administer it to the cat. Sometimes, I would get the residue on my finger, and the taste was undescribably horrible and bitter. It made my whole mouth numb, in the same way that cutting off a fingertip makes your hand kind of numb for a little while.

After many months, I realized the crulety of my ways. Besides, all of this wasn't making the cat any less angry. We opened the door and let them out.

Lo and behold, a cat that is smart enough to figure out "nasty pill hidden in the cheese" is also smart enough to stay out of traffic. They ran and played happily. Felix quit peeing in the house. Oscar got his full coat of hair back. We lived in harmony for a few years.

Felix continued to play the role of neighborhood stray. He ventured out to mark new territory. But he was friendly and fat and playful.

After a long time, he quit coming home every day. Then, he disappeared for a week before coming home. Then, his visits became less and less frequent. It became clear: Felix had grown up and moved away.

For the last five years or so, Felix has lived around the corner and two houses down from us. I see him almost every day out in the yard, looking like a meatloaf in the grass. Although he wears a collar with our phone number, he never comes to visit.

I've never heard of another cat just up and moving to someone else's house like that. He will tolerate a visit. Sometimes, he's downright welcoming. But he isn't coming back to our house.

So to summarize, the first time I had two creatures to care for as an adult, I ended up with one on anti-depressants, one on birth control, and then one decide to go live with a neighbor all on his own volition. Bring on the parenting!