Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


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DECEMBER 23, 2011 11:04PM

The Christmas Cat

Rate: 9 Flag


The Universe dropped off a cat at my back door the other night. 

Actually, it wasn't the Universe at all but a woman from the hair salon next to my house.  She and others at the salon had seen the cat hanging around between our properties and assumed that it was mine. 

In spite of my efforts to convince her that it was not my cat and I couldn't possibly take it in, I somehow found myself sitting in my kitchen holding this strange creature when my husband came home.  It might have had something to do with the fact that every time I said, "Here Kitty," the cat came running to me.  I can resist many things but cute is not one of them.  Besides, not even my kids come running to me when I call them.

Let's be clear:  I did not want a cat, I did not request a cat, and I had no idea what to do with a cat.  I'm what you would call a dog person.  I adore dogs and have owned and loved many wonderful canines throughout my life.  My current companion, Bailey, is an overly exuberant labradoodle who remains convinced that every person she meets exists specifically to make friends with her.  I often wish that I could be more like my dog:  she has honestly never met a person that she didn't like.

Cats, unfortunately, are another story.  Bailey doesn't like cats, not even one tiny bit, which makes the fact that there is now a cat living in my house all the more interesting.

My husband wanted to know what brand of mental illness would possess me to take in a stray cat knowing that we'd have to keep it separate from the dog. 

We've been down this road before.  Just recently, we had to care for my mother's cat for two months while her flood-damaged house was repaired following Hurricane Irene.  The cat had to stay in my son's Matt room as it was the only room with a door that was large enough in our circa 1830 house to hold a kid, a cat, and a litterbox.  More than once Bailey pushed past us as we tried to enter Matt's room, scaring the cat and threatening to shorten at least one of his nine lives.

Once again, I had to ask Matt to share his room with a cat.  Although he initially rejected the idea, stating that he'd "done his time", he agreed to let the cat stay.  Then it was off to Walmart for cat supplies.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the cat, but I knew that I at least had to feed him.  As if to prove my point, the cat was so hungry that he climbed right into Bailey's raised dog dish and began eating dog food as fast as he could.

Since his arrival, I've called the local vets, shelters, friends, neighbors, and lost pet places that I could think of to see if anyone has reported this cat missing.  I've placed ads online with his photo hoping that someone would recognize their long-lost pet.  I've fed him, and fed him, and fed him some more.  I've learned firsthand that what goes in one end most definitely comes out the other end.  Cleaning the litter box multiple times a day has been added to my already overscheduled to-do list.

Our efforts have paid off.  The cat has gained weight and I can no longer feel every rib and vertebrae on him.  He's rested up from his outdoor adventure and likes to show his appreciation by pouncing on Matt while he's sleeping.  Life is good with a warm home and a full belly and now he wants to play.  A lot.

Although there's no way we can keep him, I figure he'll have a better shot at being adopted if I have him neutered, so that's where he's going.  Merry Christmas, Kitty:  you're about to lose some dangly bits but you'll gain a life free of unwanted reproduction.

When I called to set up an appointment to have him neutered, the woman who took my call at the vet's office asked what we've been calling him.

                "Well, that's a funny story," I said.  "My one son named him 'Frodo,' my other son named him 'Jose,' and I call him 'Kitty' because whenever I do, he comes running.  Put it all together and you have 'FrodoJoseKitty,' which is what we've been calling him ."

                "That's the best name ever!" she laughed.  "I'm going to put it on his chart just like that."

And that is how he officially became known as FrodoJoseKitty.

So FrodoJoseKitty is almost ready for someone to adopt him.  I don't know why I was given the challenge of caring for a homeless cat a week before Christmas or how his story will ultimately end.  Maybe his arrival, rather than being a gift for me, means that I'm supposed to give a gift to him.  Maybe it's my turn to play Santa to a cat left homeless through no fault of his own.  After all, second chances shouldn't be reserved just for humans. 


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He suits his name, keep him. Iwould even though we already have two- plus a dog Nice story.
d white - Thanks! Any tips for getting a cat and a dog to like or at least tolerate one another?
Great saga. He is yours, for whatever reason. Tip: let them duke it out, all the while giving Bailey extra love, treats and strokes. Most well-loved cats and dogs always get along eventually if people let them.
Well it helps tha the cats are older and mostly indifferent to the dog (still a puppy). Cats find companionship with each other. Initially we sent the him to training school , but now the family knows hoe to handle him. As long as he gets attention from us, he doesn't bother the cats or vice versa.

Actually you can find a lot of information on PAW (Partnership for Animal Welfare) web site. It helped us learn a lot to get Mitzu adjusted in his new home with Ebony and Ivory. Good luck.
He is adorable of course. You have to introduce them very slowly...both are territorial (I know you know that) we had a similar situation with a doberman and a new cat...surprisingly, the Dobie adapted quickly, with the help of a water spray bottle. When they chase or get aggressive, a spray does the trick. It works...
Blessings on you, your family and kitty! It is possible for dogs and cats to tolerate each other and even like each other but it doesn't happen quickly. Give the cat something high that he's allowed to sit on, so he can feel safe (since dogs can't climb, that will help him feel secure). I second Gary's advice about water spray when they mistreat each other.
It never occurred to me to take in a cat, feed him, neuter him, and then find him a new home. I expect you have more spontaneity than I do. Very creative! He is a beautiful creature.
Aww! I have had to acclimate a cat-hating dog to a cat... I adopted our "Jeb" from the shelter and he was rescued from a hoarding environment where he never had enough food. We brought him into our home with a dog and two cats. Immediately he thought of the cats as "food product."

The cat were smart enough and limber enough to avoid being eaten, but I realized we were going to have to do some serious training to make this work, comfortably, for the long term. I would put Jeb on a leash and sit down on the sofa to watch TV. I'd have treats for all the animals. When the cats would approach, I'd call to Jeb and be sweet and free with the treats, stuffing them into his mouth, while I'd also give treats to the cats. Whenever he'd look at the cats, I'd call his attention to me and reward him with treats. There were high quality treats -- bits of hot dog or cheese, things they only got when they were in close proximity with one another. (Remember I had the dog on a leash.) Jeb learned to run to me when he saw a cat, expecting an awesome treat -- which I gave to him -- and eventually they seemed to accept each other as family. Outside of the house it was different. A stray cat was still vermin/food. But I think the success you will have will depend upon how intuitively people-pleasing your dog is. If he looks to please you and you are consistent with the cat lessons , he'll get it. If your dog is an independent sort, you can probably hang it up.
I came here after reading your follow-up first, so now I understand better. FrodoJoseKitty has the same white front and glves like my OSman does, except mine is all orange. He was abandoned and found wandering in the cold until he was taken in by a shelter on Dec. 23 last year. A month earlier I had lost my beloved cat to an untimely death. When I saw OSman's photo on the shelter's website, I knew we were meant for each other. The rest is history. We'll celebrate our first anniversary in two weeks. You're so right: We all deserve a second chance.

I also am reading these in reverse. Yeah for you and your new kitty. You will not regret your decision to keep him.
Thank you all for your kind and helpful comments! While I've been neglectful in responding, I have been busy implementing your suggestions. I'm pleased to say that with the exception of a few spitting and growling incidents, Bailey and FrodoJoseKitty are co-existing relatively peacefully. FrodoJoseKitty is no longer confined to one room. He's learned where to hide when Bailey gets too pushy and Bailey has learned that a cat means "back off" when he puts his ears back and growls.

Thank you all for your excellent advice and encouragement.