It’s not over ‘til the cattail wags

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath (snort) wondering if it was really the end of my tail of woe. I had trepidations about writing this update, because not only would I like to think I’m more interesting than my cats (I’m probably not), but things can and have changed in an instant.

The week after I wrote the last cat column, everything went down like a cannon ball. The weather dropped into the teens and it snowed almost two feet out here in BFE (bum f—- Egypt). My daughter convinced the outdoor cat, Nachos, that she should sleep on the sunporch where we have a small radiator-type heater. Around that time, our old cat, Cally (15 years) became ill. When the snow cleared enough to safely go out, my husband and I took her to the vet. Long story short, she had kidney disease. With a change of food she rallied for about a week, then her discomfort became obvious, and we had to make the tough decision to put her down.

The whole time Nachos lived on the sunporch enjoying the warm life with catered meals, waiting in line for her chance to come in, like some gameshow participant: WILL THE NEXT INDOOR CAT COME ON DOWN! The only thing standing between the cat and the last sliding glass door was Cally. A couple days after she passed, we let Nachos in.

Our male cat, Legolas had fawned over Nachos through the sliding glass door, now he doesn’t know what to do. He truly is a cautionary tale, that sometimes unrequited love should go unsaid. He’s like an awkward, socially inept teenager. He rushes her aggressively and she doesn’t flinch, doesn’t growl, doesn’t beat the tar out of him, though he deserves it. However, after a couple of days she became depressed; flat like a pancake. She had lost her wild, outdoor world and Lego wasn’t even pleasant to be around. Though my daughter didn’t want Nachos to be an outdoor cat anymore, she was gone most of the time at school, leaving me with a lethargic, disillusioned cat. I let her out.

Nachos now happily decides when she wants to be out, has realized she doesn’t have to stay out when it’s raining, and can take a nap in the middle of the day in luxurious comfort on the couch. She has her own blanket there and my husband tucks her in at night (don’t tell him I told you). Even though I felt bullied into letting her in, I’m not unhappy with her in the house. She’s not been the beast I thought she’d be considering where she came from. However, I feel like we’re all walking on eggshells around her like she’s a perpetual guest: “Can I get you anything to eat? Are you comfortable there? Do you want an extra blanket?”

Lego is still working through how to best engage with her, but no blood has been shed, so that’s something. I do think this honeymoon phase will end shortly. There was a pile of poop in front of the fireplace, assumedly left by Nachos, who probably doesn’t like doing her big business indoors and no one was around to let her out. Or it could be Lego, who was peeing on the bird’s cage cover when we left it on the floor in his disgust at sharing a litter box with Cally. It’s a mystery until one of them is caught.

I’d like to say I’m at peace over the cats, but it’s not over ‘til the cat tail wags.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website, or follow her on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh. Her column is always available at under the Life section.

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