Saturday, October 17, 2009

Giving up on a cat (maybe)

My latest post, about our struggles with Tallulah, is up at the Chicago Moms Blog. Since I wrote it, I had a long conversation with the behavioral therapist at the Anti-Cruelty Society and she brainstormed a few more things we can try (newspaper in her litter box, pheromone spray and a homeopathic anti-anxiety compound, followed by locking her in a small bathroom for a month).

Since the Chicago Moms Blog is being taken down, I've saved my post here as well.


I never in a million years thought I would be writing this. Saying this. Even thinking this. I'm an animal lover. A former foster mom and volunteer at the Anti-Cruelty Society and an adoption coordinator at the Animal Care League.

But here it is: my cat may have to go.

Tallulah is a sweet, personable cat. I fostered her when she was an 8 week old kitten, undernourished and riddled with fleas and worms. We nursed her back to health in the bathroom of our apartment, our first cat growling outside the door.

Needless to say, she never made it to the adoption floor. She formed a congenial relationship with cat #1--more friendly college roomies than BFFs--and seemed to adjust as we moved from a 1-bedroom apartment to a 2-bedroom condo to a 3-bedroom house. She's now 10 years old.
Kids arrived and Tallulah tolerated their clumsy advances more graciously than our other cat. As our firstborn child matured, they formed an enduring bond. So when I hear Z say "Tallulah's my best friend," my heart breaks.

Because as agreeable as this fluffy muted calico can be, she has one habit that makes her existence in our home untenable: She poops outside her box. Daily. Let me tell you, cleaning cat shit up off the floor gets old. Especially after four years.

We've tried everything. Elimination diets featuring super expensive wet food. Elimination diets featuring super expensive dry food. Different kinds of litter. Additional litter boxes. Antibiotics. Enzyme cleaners. Carpet cleaners. We've invested hundreds--probably thousands--of dollars trying to figure out why she's continuing to crap on the floor and cleaning up said floor.

My husband took her to the vet again this week for another round of pricey tests. If once again there's nothing wrong, the next step is exploratory surgery. And there I'm drawing the line. I will not subject my cat (and my bank account) to a surgeon's knife with no guarantee of answers or a cure.

So I've placed a call to the Anti-Cruelty Society. The surrender department transfered me to a behavioral therapist and I left her a voice mail. I can only hope she'll find a fix to our problem. Because I never imagined I'd been one of them. A person who gives up her pet.