The things we do for love

Every once in a while we’re forced to do something that, while completely necessary, just breaks our hearts.  I was faced with that moment on Wednesday.  I had to give away Bonnie Cat.

I found Bonnie at one of the pet shelters that had set up shop in the entrance of PetSmart. We had only gone in to look at the fish, but the cute little kittens were calling me.

“Megan!” they cried, “Megan, come pick us up! We’re adorable!  We’re fuzzy!  We fit in your pocket!  Resistance is futile!”

Poor Mike did his best to drag me away, but it was all in vain.  He sighed heavily as the shelter workers sat me down and placed in my lap a warm ball of fluff that immediately began vibrating with the loudest purr I had ever heard.  Within two minutes, it was asleep, curled up with its head pressed into my stomach. Without thinking, I heard myself ask the worker to explain to me all the particulars of the adoption process.

There were three main reasons for wanting to get a cat, and they all have to do with the particular stage of life at which I currently find myself.

  1. Babies.  At almost thirty years old, my biological clock has been ticking ever louder these days, but my brain, knowing full well that I can barely afford to feed myself, convinced me that I don’t yet have the resources to raise a child.  As Mike has said, babies can’t eat love.  They need food.  Hence the pet to coddle and smother with affection and temporarily satisfy the maternal instinct.
  2. Long distance relationships.  Mike was afforded an incredible opportunity to study in a graduate program in the field he wanted.  I had never seen him so excited about anything, so naturally, I was thrilled for him.  The only problem was that the program was at a school far, far away, thus causing us to attempt the dreaded long distance relationship.
    While I am a relatively solitary person, I am still human and get lonely when left by myself for long stretches.  Hence the fuzzy pet to fend of the loneliness, because the fish and hamster weren’t cutting the mustard.
  3. Dogs.  To be honest, I’m more of a dog person.  I grew up with dogs.  I know how dogs’ minds work.  Cats, to this very day, are still a relative mystery.  Granted, I’ve gotten to know one dog-like cat very well, and now consider myself more “bi” when it comes to animals, but I’m still a dog person at heart.
    Knowing what I know about dogs, though, I know that I don’t have the physical capability to take care of a dog right now.  Dogs need to go out for walks.  Dogs need to go out to poo.  Dogs can’t be left alone for an entire day.  My work schedule right now just won’t let me handle a dog.  Hence the more independent cat.

BonnieDespite all these compelling arguments, there was one strong reason not to get a cat: poor Mike is allergic.  I’m not talking mild, occasionally itchy eyes, here.  I’m talking full blown wheezing despite twice-daily doses of Benadryl.  Since we’re being married in a couple months, I didn’t think it would be fair to ask him to take allergy pills every day for the next twenty or so years.

However, eventually my soft spot for cute animals won over my sense of logic and I brought Bonnie home.  The following nine months were a blast, but tinged with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to keep her.

I was really fortunate to find someone to take Bonnie when the time came.  I was terrified that I would have to return her to the shelter, never knowing if anyone had adopted her.  Her new people are a young woman about my age and her husband.  We work together, and a friendship has been slowly blooming between us for the past couple months.  She is a very sweet person, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to take in my cat.

Although I knew from the moment I signed the adoption papers that I would have to give her up before the end of summer, nothing could have prepared me for the gut-wrenching evening I spent packing her and her belongings and taking her to her new home.  I bawled while washing out her food dishes and packing them in a box, while reaching under the couch to find her toy mice, and even while dumping the contents of her litter box.  Every few minutes or so I would scoop up Bonnie in my arms, squeezing her until she tried to wriggle free from my clutches.  I think she knew something was going on, but how do you explain something like this to a creature that doesn’t understand English?  There was no way to explain to her that I was giving her up because I loved her and because she needed to be with someone who could take care of her.

When I got to Bonnie’s new home I managed to straighten myself out long enough to create the illusion that I wasn’t as bothered as I really was.  I expected to start crying again when I turned out of the apartment complex, but instead found myself in almost a state of shock.  I haven’t cried over her since that night until now, as I type these words.

I’ve learned a few things from this experience.

  1. Cats are definitely cooler than I used to think.  With the exception of a couple I’ve met, they’re quite affectionate and friendly, and not nearly as jerky as I make them out to be.
  2. Cats are funny.  Have you ever seen a cat chase its tail?  Or play in an empty cardboard box?  Hours of free entertainment right there.
  3. Cats are also very strange.  They nap in the sink and bathtub, prefer ancient erasers to expensive catnip toys, and will run like mad back and forth from one end of the room to the other without reason.
  4. A cat’s purr will be amplified quite loudly if that cat sticks its face in an empty flower vase.
  5. Owning a cat has given me the confidence that I am capable of taking care of another living thing.  The prospect of having children someday doesn’t seem as daunting as it did a year ago.
  6. I now know for certain that I would never be able to give up a child for adoption.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. raggray
    Jun 06, 2009 @ 22:37:10

    What a sweet, touching post with beautiful photos. I am sure that Bonnie’s life, too, has been enriched by your time together.

    Reply

  2. nutmegnanny
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 08:57:53

    I’m so sorry that you had to give away Bonnie. I have two cats and I couldn’t imagine the pain you felt when you gave her to her new home. Maybe one day they will find a cure for cat allergies and then you can get a Bonnie number two.

    Reply

  3. Joy
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 12:30:49

    My heart is just breaking for you. I’ve come to know Bonnie Cat through you and I have such a soft spot for animals. Did she act okay when you took her to her new home? This is so hard to do. I’ve had to do it a couple of times and we are facing losing our lab soon. She’s sick and getting old but it’s been really hard for my husband. We just talked about it again this weekend and we both know our time with her is running out so this was especially touching to my heart today. I’m so sorry Megan. It will just take you some time to get used to the change of not having her but time will help. *sniff, sniff*

    Reply

  4. Anne
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 19:32:48

    Meg, again, I am so sorry about Bonnie – but am so relieved that you found her a good home. To be honest, I would have dumped the man and kept the cat (kind of kidding). Also, kids are not as cool as cats or dogs, kids want money, college and don’t love you just for food and cleaning their kitty litter.

    Reply

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