Morbidity

Jesse came in to where I was napping this morning and said, “Kelly, I have bad news. Our dog ate our baby”.

This is the little 1 inch plastic model that the mid-wife gave me at my 11-almost 12 week appt. And Claire chewed off it’s head and legs.

This comes on the heels of of a question we’ve been pondering quite seriously– what ARE we going to do with our pets once the baby comes? Other than occasionally chewing up small objects, peeing on the carpet, and humping small children (a BAD new habit she’s developed, probably because Topher likes to give her big open-mouthed kisses), Claire’s not a danger. She’s very obedient to verbal commands. We often don’t even need a leash when we take her outside to “do her business”.

But then there’s Mirabelle. Our cat who picked up a few demons on the long road from CA to TX 3 yrs. ago. Here’s my HONEST assessment of Mirabelle’s current mental state: she’s a loving cat who trusts NO ONE other than Jesse and I. She cuddles with us every morning, purring away. I am not kidding. But she growls, hisses and spits the moment anyone else comes within 20 feet of her.

And, on top of her normal eccentricities, she plays ROUGH. Claire doesn’t usually mind this– they bark at and chase each other all day long. But if a human happens to get in the way? YIKES. I accidentally let my hand dangle off the bed while I was sleeping a few weeks ago. I awoke at 2 am with Mirabelle’s teeth and claws wrapped around and sinking into to my arm. Immediately, I was screaming and waving my arm around, which only made Mirabelle cling and bite harder. Just 2 nights ago, I was sitting at the dinner table, minding my own business, when Mirabelle forgot I was there and tried to jump up into my chair to avoid Claire in one of their nightly chase scenes. What ensued were four claws into my KNEE CAP. I have the puncture wounds to prove it.

So you can imagine why I’m nervous. What if the cat attacks our baby? She would never do it in play, since she doesn’t trust anyone else enough to play. If it happened, it would be malicious. Which is actually comforting, because Mirabelle is all bark and never bite– the only person I’ve ever seen her attack was my brother Joe, and this was because he was hitting her in the face with a shoe as she was cornered under a bed.

No, my fear is if Mirabelle ever becomes “trusting” of the newest member of the household, she will try to “play” with him or her. Which could result in missing limbs or fingers.

I know this seems like an easy solution to everyone else out there, but it’s actually a tough one. MOST of the time, we love Mirabelle. I saved her as a kitten and bottle-fed her back to life. She’s lived with us for almost 4 years and is a great distraction and play-mate for Claire. They are actually, quite often, partners in crime. Mirabelle knocks things off the counter for Claire to chew, which is how our plastic baby lost it’s life.

We have a few options. Perhaps you could chime in with your vote.

#1 My aunt Collette has agreed to take Mirabelle as a barn cat for their country home outside of Austin. No one would ever love her or pick her up again, but at least she’d have a place to roam and food to eat.

#2 De-clawing her front paws. As “in-humane” as so many people say this is, it’s more humane than taking her to the pound. The downsides are $$ and the fact that many cats have urine accidents after the surgery since they can’t feel the litter as well without their claws. Sounds dumb, but it’s a documented fact.

#3 Moving to a house with a yard. This would solve many problems– Claire could have a doggie door, and Mirabelle could…never come inside. The downside to this is that Mirabelle would probably find a way in the house, seeing as she’s been a house cat for 4 years and wouldn’t understand what changed. We’d also have to find a way to get a collar back around Mirabelle’s neck.

What to do???

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7 thoughts on “Morbidity

  1. this is a really tough decision and it is up to you two to make it; however, here are some thoughts. Personally, I am against de-clawing because of the pain it causes and the danger it creates if she ever gets out (no way to protect herself), and because it really won’t fix the problem. You would have to take her teeth out too…October for the most part is super good with her claws, its that she like to bite….

    my second thought actually involves October as well….As you know (well, mostly as Courtney and Ben experience) October likes to stalk certain people and scare them (much to the amusement of others) and she plays rough (as the scab on my ankle currently attests to…); but, the weird thing is that she loves babies and little children (in a good way). She has been picked up, petted, sat on, tail grabbed, flopped about, about even chewed on by the kids in our courtyard (ranging from new borns to infants to toddlers) and just sits there and takes it. She has never once bit, scratched, or even meowed at them. Now, once they get about 8 or so..she treats them like adults and gets rougher… but somehow she knows that kids and babies should not be hurt at all. *shrug* its the weirdest thing; but, I trust her completely with little kids but keep on eye on her around adults. So, not sure if she is just weird of if maybe its an animal instinct thing…..but, something to think about.

    For my personal opinion (which you are fully free to ignore without prejudice or fear or retaliation–ug technical writing all day today…) I would say, wait till you have the kid and see how it goes. If its too much, give her to your aunt, if not, keep her. Who knows, the kid might be allergic anyways and then you have that to deal with…. Its a tough decision. Good luck. =(

  2. Kelly, keep in mind, this is coming from a household where we only had outside pets (one beagle, and numerous cats). We gave Snoopy away to a family who lived on 10 acres and he thought he went to doggy heaven. All of our cats were wild and only liked by me, although I always thought that our sons secretly liked them but were afraid to show it for fear of their cat-hating father. Anyway, option # one seems best for your cat for now so you can rest easy about the baby. By the way, the plastic baby that Paige got is one of Hanks favorite toys.

  3. Hi Kelly – Coming from living with two cats and two kiddos, I completely agree with Chelsea. From my experience, if the cat is a wary one, it will keep it’s distance from a screaming, smelly baby. It is only now that rinn is 4 that Audrey is beginning to let her come near. On the other hand, Tio is not a fearful cat and will scratch tempie if she climbs on him. I think you should wait and see. You will have a couple months before the baby is mobile enough to be played with, moving around and such. By then you will have a good sense of how things will work out.

    Also, why don’t you just trim her claws rather than de-claw. It is not hard and would likely be a nice middle ground. You can use regular nail clippers and it doesn’t take long.

    I hope it all works out an you are able to keep your whole family together – pets and all. I know it would be a heart-breaking choice for me.

  4. Since the cat isn’t super fond of human affection anyway she may thrive as a barn cat. Maybe the reason she is so angry is that she knows her true calling is to be a country cat and she has been stifled from her birth in the middle of LA.

  5. In response to Lettie, we can’t just “trim” her claws for the same reason we can’t get a collar back around her neck or even get her into the travel crate without a broom– we don’t trust her enough to pick her up anymore. We don’t hold her, we let her come to us and cuddle on her own terms. That we way, we avoid immeasurable pain and bleeding 🙂

  6. Even if you don’t run into trouble while you have a baby (and thus can put off the decision for a year!) you are still going to come up against the problem when you have a toddler. We have been really wanting to get a dog, but now is just not a good time for our family. James pulls MY hair, and scratches MY face, and bangs MY nose (and not maliciously; he’s trying to be affectionate!) I can only imagine how miserable and afraid a puppy, or a cat, when he attempts to show his affection. What felt really strongly that if we got a puppy, the puppy and the baby would end up with a lot of mutual hatred, and we don’t want that. We want our puppy and our baby to love eachother, not fear eachother.

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