This is Cricket. I’ve known him since he was a few hours old. For the past 5 years ago, he’s been my #1 boo (sorry Conrad).
Act I. The Beginning
I never planned on adopting a kitten. I knew I wanted a cat eventually, but I always thought I’d adopt a full-grown feline. Then my friend’s boyfriend took in a very pregnant street cat who later had 5 beautiful babies and my plans went out the window. I fell in love with all of them and went to visit pretty regularly. When they were old enough to be weaned, I knew I had to take one home.
To be honest, Cricket wasn’t my pick of the litter. I wanted a female cat, but my friend had first dibs and she took home the pretty calico that I’d been hoping to adopt. Cricket has had a big personality from the day he was born. He was constantly exploring further than his siblings and wasn’t scared of anything. I figured that his strong personality would mean that he’d get snatched up first, but as other people laid claim to the other kittens, it seemed like he was gonna be the one for me.
Not gonna lie, there have been many times when I wished I’d chosen any other kitten. Full confession: My cat is mostly a dick.
A summary of evidence that Cricket is, in fact, a dick:
- He hates it when guests come over and when he’s upset, he’ll stare at you and start huffing creepily.
- Before we got Donut to keep him company, he would regularly throw fits where he’d attack me out of the blue and leave long claw marks all up and down my arms. I’ve locked him in closets more than once in an attempt to calm him down (it never worked).
- The last time I took him to the vet, he transformed into a giant, fluffy, hissing ball of teeth and claws. The vet and 3 techs tried to wrangle him using towels and elbow-length welder’s gloves, but they couldn’t even take his heartbeat. His chart notes from that visit just say, “Could not touch cat.”
- He’s addicted to eating plastic, which means we have to make sure all of the garbage cans are covered and we can’t leave out grocery bags or he’ll chomp holes through them.
- I constantly have to warn guests not to try to touch him: Those that don’t heed my words often end up bloody.
He got a lot better once we adopted Donut, but he’s always been a little hellion. I lovingly refer to him as my demonbaby, but it’s more a descriptor than a term of endearment.
Even though he’s kind of an asshole, he is my baby. He loves hanging out on my shoulders after I’ve showered and when he wants cuddles he’ll force me to cradle him in my arms and rock him like a child. He’s loud and kind of mean and beautiful and whiny and he often pushes me to the end of my rope.
But it’s also really satisfying to be loved by a creature that hates most everyone else on the planet. I am Khaleesi and he is my Drogon and even though it’s embarrassing when I can’t control him, I still kinda love having a companion who strikes fear in the hearts of men.
Act II. The Escape
In early February, my spoiled and naive baby punched a hole through a screen door and made his escape. He’d been outside a few times in his short life, but he never got very far and always came back within an hour or two, so at first I wasn’t all that worried. After a day went by, we started hanging up flyers around the neighborhood and looking in earnest.
We got a few calls that turned out to be false alarms. A neighbor frantically knocked on our door at midnight, convinced she’d seen Cricket at a pet ER in Towson. I immediately drove all the way there to check it out, but no dice. Another neighbor called to say that he had just chased Cricket around an alley for 10 minutes before he jumped over a fence and escaped. After crawling the alley for 2 hours, we found out that this particular neighbor has a history of delusional mental illness and likely never saw the cat in the first place.
As the weeks went by, we started to lose hope. It was bitterly cold and there was a pretty major snowstorm. Given his total lack of street smarts, I began to resign myself to the fact that I’d probably never see my sweet little evil demonbaby again.
Act III. The Return
And then out of the blue–a full 6 weeks after he went missing–I got a voicemail from a guy who was looking for Cricket’s owner. He lived in the next neighborhood over and there was a cat hanging out in his backyard: Apparently they’d seen him a few times before, but he wasn’t ready to say hi until they had a cookout and pulled out the grill. I’ll never understand how his breakaway collar managed to hold up for a month and a half, but by some miracle he let them get close enough to read his tags and they called right away.
Conrad rushed over and scooped him up. Cricket had lost a lot of weight, but didn’t have a scratch on him. When he got home, he couldn’t stop purring and begging to be held.
Act IV. The Whole Honest and Ugly Truth
Even though I missed Cricket a lot, it was kind of a relief that he’d left and I wasn’t sure if I wanted him to come home. I hated it when someone would ask me how I was coping with his absence because it was so hard to explain how conflicted I felt. Yes, I was sad that he was gone and yes I was worried about his safety.
But also, life was a whole lot easier without him.
For those 6 blissfully calm (though worry-filled) weeks, Donut and Taco got along beautifully. We didn’t have to worry about accidentally leaving a ziploc bag on the counter that he might choke on. The house was quieter and I could invite friends over again since I didn’t have to worry about them leaving with bloody souvenirs. It was a relief.
So when we got that phone call, my first feeling was absolute dread. We were getting used to life without him. I’d accepted that he was gone for good. Now we’d have to readjust our lives all over again???
Act V. The Aftermath
It took some time to settle back in, but Cricket quickly wormed his way back into my heart. Taco doesn’t scare him anymore, which is a huge relief. But there had to be some drama and in the end, it was Donut who couldn’t handle him coming home. She hissed at him and seemed to hate having this interloper in the house. I cried a lot because I felt so guilty for disrupting her life in so many different ways.
He’s been home a few weeks now and things are finally settling back down. Slowly but surely, Donut is warming back up to him. They’ve started giving each other little kisses and timidly grooming each other again.
As for me, I think I’ll always feel guilty for being such a cold-hearted cat mom. And I’ll probably always feel conflicted about my feelings toward this creature who is often so hard to love. But despite the difficulties and the scars and the interspecies tensions, I’m really really really glad he’s home.