Why I don't have a pet any more, part one
Crabby. It had been in our pre-nup that I could have a cat, so I got one when we moved to Durham in 1981. My ex didn't want her, so he named her Crabby.
When she was young, she would fetch and retrieve an aluminum-foil ball over and over, as devotedly as a golden retriever. If you stopped playing, she would bat it coyly with her paw, to make it move just a little bit. Then she'd pick it up again and drop it on your foot.
My ex blamed all delays in finishing his thesis upon this retrieving cat and her appealing silver ball. "How could I write? Crabby was making me play."
Yidl was in our lives only long enough to warrant a parenthesis.After my ex- and I split up and I moved into this house, Crabby liked to sit on a high ledge overlooking the stairs. As she aged her balance deteriorated and she would fall like a stone from this high ledge to the stairs far below. Over and over. It seemed she'd break her back, but no, she just went back up there and fell again and again.
In a misguided moment of vindictiveness, after my ex bought a brand new Chevy Suburban without consulting me, in a fury, I went to the pound and got a second cat.
Yidl was cute, but after she suffered through a terrible fever she had some sort of mental break and never again wanted to be touched. My little daughter would sit with the cat in a shallow box on her lap looking at Yidl sadly while Yidl looked elsewhere. No petting allowed.
After Yidl started scratching Melina and peeing in the laundry baskets, I had to take her back to the pound. That was creepy.
She became incontinent, which was doubly dreadful because our other cat Digit immediately took up the habit in sympathy. In the winter I hated to put them outside to prevent daily peeing and pooping on the carpets, but there are very few doors in my house, so the only place to confine them with the litter box was the very small downstairs bathroom. Which students and visitors use.
Crabby eventually just - stopped eating. When I picked up her ancient, gnarly, arthritic old body to take her to the vet, she was so light. She only weighed 3-1/2 pounds when she was put to sleep. The kids were there and my ex came too. We all cried.