Before Christmas, we gave our beloved cat, Scout, to my mom. It was a very hard decision. Ainsley was diagnosed with asthma this fall, and we discovered through allergy testing that she's allergic to cats and that Scout was probably a trigger for her nighttime coughing. And I had been having allergy problems myself; throughout the summer and fall, I had been battling an allergic reaction in my eyes and through my own allergy testing learned that I am allergic to cats. (This was a shock--I've had cats my entire life and had allergy testing before. Go figure.) So Scout had to go.
It's been a good arrangement. Scout, who ironically has allergy problems of her own, got a good home with someone who knows about her health needs and will stay on top of them. Mom, who has been living alone since my dad passed away, has a new companion to keep her company. The only downside is that mom travels quite a bit, so I have to visit and make sure the cat is fed and watered. And doing that this weekend, I've learned an ugly truth: my cat hates me.
This cat, who before Ainsley came along was our "furry baby", who slept on our bed every night for 6 years, who I mourned like a child when we thought she had died behind the refrigerator (long story), and who could not bear to be separated from me or Jason when we shared the same house, now will not even acknowledge my existence.
Scout was the most dependent cat I have ever seen; unless "strangers" were in the house, she had to be on top of or next to either Jason or me. She was my lap cat. She was my substitute dog; she greeted me at the top of the stairs every afternoon and even played fetch. We were tight, Scout and I. And now when I go to mom's to give her food and water, she gives me a look that says, "I think I might know you...but I know I don't care." I can't coax her out from under the bed. She sniffs my hand and lets me pet her head for approximately half a second, then she turns her kitty butt at me.
I was hurt at first, but now I'm just mad. We spent thousands of dollars on this animal in the 6 years we had her, what with vet bills, her special "low-allergen" prescription cat food, kitty litter, etc. I have taken sick days for her various medical crises (at last count, she's on her 5th life.) We tolerated her 3am go-up-and-down-the-hallway-meowing-loudly-for-no-good-reason spells when most people would have shown her the other side of the door. I cleaned up after her every time she thought the living room carpet would make for good toilet paper. I refrained from kitty abuse when she would leave a hairball right where I would be sure to step on it in barefeet on my way to the bathroom in the morning. We even applied those rubber "Soft Paws" claw caps on a regular basis to keep from having her declawed. We did this because we loved her. And thought she loved us. But it seems that as long as someone is providing the cat food, and a warm lap, Scout doesn't really care who that someone is. My mom is now the special human in Scout's life, and I am just this person that smells vaguely familiar and pokes my head into her hiding spot under the bed from time to time.
I suppose she could be harboring bad feelings toward me since I moved her from her accustomed surroundings to a new home that took her weeks to get used to. I wish she could understand that I had to put Ainsley's health first. I wish I could tell her, and have her understand, how hard it was, and how I don't know if I could have gotten rid of her if my mom hadn't volunteered to take her in. I wish I could be more of my husband's view that she's "just a cat", and not see her as a fluffy, meowing, dysfuntional member of the family.
I wish my cat was still my cat.