Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Leftovers: Cats-in-law

A few scraps from our recent holiday vaca at the in-laws' house.

Today's topic: The Cats-in-law.

For seven days it was me versus five cats, four inside, one outside. Every time we visit, because I am allergic, I have to keep our bedroom door closed at all times to prevent the cats from lounging on, rooting through, vomiting on, or peeing in our suitcases, beds, pillows, sleeping bag, and pack and play. Did I mention this house is in Florida? And my mother-in-law gets cold at night when the temperature drops below seventy? Thus little to no AC at night. The room is poorly ventilated anyway, and with the four of us heavy breathers sweating through the night with the door sealed shut, our windows fairly drip with condensation by morning. Might I add that the cats make themselves comfortable in this very room the other fifty-one weeks of the year. Their ghosts linger.

I had a pile of our dirty clothes outside our door for five minutes while I did something in our room, then I stepped out into the hallway, shutting the door behind me of course. The hairiest cat, a beautiful Ragdoll, lolled playfully on top of the pile. I tried to shoo her away without touching her. That is apparently cat-sign language for, "Let's play a while!" She swatted at me and the clothes as I tried to get them out from under her, and she actually laughed when her nails snagged one of my favorite shirts. Every time I tried to get the shirt away, she'd pierce and pull at it anew. And I thought dogs were destructive.

My husband's parents' cats are beautiful things, but I can't touch a one of them, or the swollen itchy masses that used to be my eyes will get worse. Washing my hands is futile, considering that the towels I use to dry them apply more cat hair to my skin than the washing removed. As I prepared for dinner one night I hung a clean shirt over a towel bar and began locating my shower stuff. I knocked the shirt off accidentally, and it didn't just fall onto the floor, it fell into the cats' water dishes. I shrugged, laughed a little, then sought out a towel. When I opened the shuttered doors of the linen closet, an orange cat stared me straight in the eyes from its cozy perch atop the bath towels.

The ILs got new couches for the family room last year, and the cats have already had their way with them. There's a carpet-covered scratching post in front of one of the corners to try to prevent the inevitable, but all that fur-covered toy attracted during our visit was my children. They pushed it, pulled it, stepped on it, kicked it, sat on it--everything but licked the damn thing--ALL WEEK LONG. Their joyous play kicked up huge tufts of the combined fur of the cats, which settled happily on my person. Wouldn't you know it, any cat toys (balls, fur mouses, fishing pole type thingies) are far more interesting play pretties than any distraction actually created for human children.

Seven days. Running nose, puffy eyes, failing contact lenses.

Why didn't we stay in a hotel? I prefer histamine attacks to bedbug infestation. And there's that half-a-G we saved...


Jeff said...

It sounds like you had a rough week. I've often wondered why cats always seem to be drawn to people who either don't like cats or are allergic to them. lol

Happy New Year, Mary Louisa!

Mary Louisa said...

Thanks so much, Jeff--and happy new year to you, too. :)

Yeah, those cats have my number. And now that I'm home, I'm having serious sinus troubles. After-effects?

anne frasier said...

haha! i'll probably be heading to florida in a couple of weeks -- hope to anyway. my dad has...i honestly don't know how many dogs. i think 5, but i'm not sure. the room i'm put in is normally their room. not allergic anyway, but i do close the door to keep them out. and i smother. the furnace runs all night; the air conditioner all day. no windows are ever opened.

Mary Louisa said...

OH, Anne, I so feel your pain! I hope you can enjoy your trip despite the beasts. ;)