Insomnia, We Meet Again with Cats.

I am a bit tired, though every time I close my eyes I can’t get my brain to shut off.

Everything is good right now. Really good. I couldn’t be happier with the way my life is going, mostly thanks to my beloved partner, friends, and family’s support.

Yet I still can’t help worrying about little things and those stupid little thoughts open my eyes right up every time I count to 100 sheep, or less if I really can’t focus.

I hope my last two foster kittens find a good home and they can stay together. I want this to happen soon because I am perpetually nervous about Buttons and her CH. I melt when I think of her golden eyes and I just worry worry worry about her. She received a clean bill of health from the vet, she’s been spayed with no complications, and she has an absolutely charming drunken swagger. But that doesn’t stop my nerves. Whenever she plays, her spastic movements cause her to constantly fall off, or onto, everything in the room. Padding and baby bumpers never seem like enough and I’m constantly thinking of ways to rearrange things or remove things from the room to lessen the blows.

The rubber bones of kittens don’t quell my anxiety. I am always wondering if one fall in particular will be especially bad, or one head bonk into the bed frame is going to knock her out. It doesn’t help that her kitten spirit outweighs her inability to stand or walk straight and she frequently dives head-first into everything: my body, the dresser, the floor, the wall. Why?! She’s so silly and I know it’s cute and hilarious but my nervous heart can barely handle this wild nature that sends her flying off the bed into her own water bowl, or the unsettling banging on the door, which is usually nothing more than her playing with toys and toppling over into it.

I know she is safe and healthy. I know I’m doing everything I can, and have plans to do more for her safety and comfort. I know she doesn’t notice her differences and I’m certain she barely notices the tumbles. But I notice. I think back to when her and her siblings were taking their first steps around the room and the hardwood floor was challenging for her. The first two days before our play floor arrived, cutting up yoga mats and spreading towels and blankets all over the floors so she wouldn’t slip and hit her head. Testing out so many different types of cat bowls until we found one she could drink and eat from without tipping into it.

And it was a lot of work… But it did work. She can walk, focus, eat, play, and even jump in one big pounce like a kitten without a neuro problem. The first day she climbs to the top of the scratching pool, I cried. The little bugger couldn’t even hold her head up only weeks before that.

But now she is bigger and even less aerodynamic than ever, so her dramatic lunges stop my heart every time. I love her, I wish we could keep her, but I know someone with more experience will give her a better home and then I can stop worrying about her hurting herself just from getting frisky.

Not to mention her brother, Pinky. I always say he’s my favorite because he looks like a copy-paste version of his mama. He’s nearly as big as her, too. He was the runt of his litter, with an eye infection that wouldn’t quit for weeks and nearly killed him at it’s worst (pink eye… hence, Pinky!) I hold this guilt that he is deaf because I couldn’t keep that infection at bay well enough. I couldn’t get him better fast enough and I broke him. I don’t know if my heart broke more when all his litter mates were healed and he was still being compressed-and-ointment’d for days after, so much so that he even once put his paw up in front of his eye before I even started. 😦 Or the fact that he is now deaf, which doesn’t seem to debilitate him, but maybe if I did better he would hear us telling him how much we love him and how handsome he is and how amazing he is for going from runt to heavyweight. Maybe he would be able to hear the cartoons I put on for him that he loves to watch so curiously. Maybe he wouldn’t have to wear a collar so I know where he is, since he wouldn’t be able to hear me if we couldn’t find him.

I love sweet Pinky too much. He has a perfect blue steel stare and I fell in love with him the first time he scaled that scratching post, making deliberate eye contact. Trying to best his brothers and sister for the top so he could get pet on his unique fluffy bottom half. I don’t mind that he doesn’t like to be held as long as his brother, Penny, because he just gives me sugar from floor instead. He’s a quiet angel who has always seemed to look out for his bros and sisters; even though he is special needs, he was absolutely the alpha.

As much as I love these two, I am excited and ready for them to move on. Conditional that they stay together so as not to break their bond. I wasn’t sad about the other kittens because I know they were placed in their ideal homes, but the nonstop worries that have accompanied these two will assuredly have me ugly crying when they are adopted for realsies. It’s literally keeping me up at night.

And if I didn’t feel bad enough about that, our foster-turned-adopted cat, Daisy, was recently fixed and now we are trying to integrate her with our current cats, Cookie and Sassy. A few sneaky slipping-outs have resulted in scraps that started in the blink of an eye, which means we have to start from square one with their introductions because of the surprise rough start.

The safest way to do this (especially considering Daisy is healing from post-op) is for Cookie and Sassy to be in my partner’s office while Daisy has the rest of the apartment (minus the kitten’s room) to herself and I feel terrible about this. Like, I cannot explain how badly it hurts me to keep my two house cats in one room for a week or so while we attempt to re-introduce the three sisters. Yes, they love the office and they have everything they need in there, but they aren’t free to roam their home for however many days.

I’m scared because, as other cat owners may tell you, introducing new adult cats in your home is no easy task. Cats are naturally territorial, and Daisy is a street cat, while my other two fluffers have never set a soft paw pad outside the safety of our apartment. Cookie especially has only known this apartment as her home. I feel like the worst pet owner ever for effectively banning them from the rest of their home. What’s probably worse for them is the stress of knowing there is another cat just outside the door.

I don’t spend much time in the office because it’s cramped with books and tech, but I go in and spend some time with them, giving them treats and new toys and tidying up. I literally try to explain that it’s only for a few days until we can safely switcheroo everyone and let them get used to each other’s smells. I don’t know if they understand me, but they definitely know that things are not the same, and not good right now, and mommy isn’t around as much and they seem so sad to me. 😦 It’s not forever, and babe is there for 8 hours a day during work time. It’s their sadness and confusion that really gets to me.

It will be over soon and like it never happened, and all cats will eventually start to calm down in time. It doesn’t make it less hard now, especially because Daisy sleeps on the couch and not the bed. The cats seem so far away because of the time apart, not the distance.

I don’t regret getting Daisy and I don’t resent her for the work we need to put in for cat peace, but I worry (again, more worry) that my partner will like Daisy less because the situation makes our other cats feel sad and lonely. His heart is too big for that, but anxiety isn’t rational.

I also have a fear lingering in the back of my mind that Daisy won’t do well with the other cats and we’d have to rehouse her. Despite the rational part of my brain telling me that we’re well past reneging on the commitment to adopt, that intrusive thought prickles the back of my neck. I would never regret choosing to adopt Daisy, the most dedicated cat mama I’ve ever seen, aged at only 1.5 years by the ASPCA vets! But the fear — the fucking fear!! — rests until I see confrontational behavior when the cats sniff each other under the door, or I go into the office and wish I could let Sassy and Cookie out, or I see Daisy feeling secure and happy, purring and making biscuits on all her new favorite spots.

Separating the cats is for their safety, and we’re following all the proper introduction protocols (minus the accidental escape and fight last week.) Treats under the door, comforting words, feeding near each other. It just takes time. And it sucks because we don’t know how much time. And I hate seeing any of the cats sad or feeling trapped. And tbh it’s actually only been 4 days since we started introducing them. But it seems like forever. My familiars, my hearts, locked away to make room for a third they didn’t ask for. Sometimes it feels like the wrong thing. But I couldn’t take that security away from Daisy, either. She deserves love, too.

One positive is that Daisy’s spay will probably automatically ease tension between the cats as she starts to peter out. Hopefully the territorial sniffs will soon become curious sniffs. When Daisy is properly healed, we’ll begin switching them in and out of the office. It’s hardly any time. It will be in no time. I just wish there was a way to explain that to the cats lol.

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