​​​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

Cloth Diapers, Cats & Parenthood: Part Two – Cat Adoption

Known across nations as “the Winky Apopoclipse,” l’événement tragique in part one of this trilogy demonstrated my unfitness for human parenthood, but pointed to cat adoption as a possible road to mommyhood.

An ego-destroying spiral into hell, this thwarted experience as a diaper-changing aunt was followed by a madcap pursuit of three careers and two master’s degrees. Capped off by “the wedding of the century,” marriage to my Donnee, the man of my dreams.

We were 90 years old at the time.

Ha! Ha! Made you look!

The Mysteries of Cat Adoption
It all began one dark and windy December night in 2016. Mighty gusts were bending and breaking the oaks and maples in ‘Burbia, the land that time forgot. Whooo…Whoooo…Whooooo…..Walls were shaking, china teacups were rattling, and eerie, ghostlike moans wafted their way up and down the streets, like a cabal of coyotes seeking respite from the impending storm.

Suddenly there was a rappa-tappa-tappa on the door. “Who could it be,” I wondered. “The Ghost of Christmas Past? The Phantom of the Opera?” Slinking her way silently toward our front door, I spied a lone woman, quite disheveled, holding two cat carriers in each hand.

“This bizarre creature has the strength of Polyphemus, the One-Eyed Cyclops,” I noted while observing her outfit — striped polyester pull-on pants with matching top and Birkenstocks with sox. It soon became clear, however, that she was not a ghost, phantom or giant, but one of the witches in Macbeth, Myra, Sylvia or Edith. I immediately concluded that she was Myra, the eldest witch and the only one with a PayPal account. 

Me: “Donneeeeee, there’s a witch at the door. Come here right now and hit her with a broom!”
Myra: “Do not speak in the street by day what you have heard in the woods by night.”                      Me: “Excusé moi?”
Myra: “Do not speak by sunlight what you have learned by moonlight.”
Me: “Donneeeeee, pour boiling water on her and stick some garlic between her teeth! Quick!!”
Myra: “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”
Donnee: “Let her in! That’s Sad Patty, the cat lady. I invited her to visit.”

So the man I had mistakenly married had, without checking my wants, needs, musts, shoulds and coulds, invited Sad Patty to bring a herd of cats for a play date and possible cat adoption.

By us.

As if these back-stabbing shenanigans weren’t bad enough, good ol’ Sad Patty was one weird dudette. The whole time she was in our house she spoke only in Shakespeare, making it desperately difficult to move the conversation along.

Me: “Sad Patty, would you care for a cup of coffee?”
Sad Patty: “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”
Me: “Um, I’ll take that as a ‘no’. Here, why don’t you sit down and make yourself comfy?”
Sad Patty: “Out, damned spot! out, I say!”

It turned out that, in addition to being weirder than hell, she was rude, making it a point to notice the spaghetti stain on our sofa. Plus, Sad Patty kept wandering around the living room, scooping up errant dust balls and putting them in her pocket. Saving them for a rainy day? “Sad Patty is a cat adoption social worker,” my Donnee explained.

“Ha!” I snarled, loud enough for Sad Patty to hear. “I think she’s casing the joint, using cat adoption as her cover. Or maybe carrying cats around in boxes is her cash-only side gig.” Anyhooeth, this social worker/cat lady/home intrusion specialist then released the first cat pair. 

The Other Cat

One of them, Duncan, was huge. He kept humping my ankles: left ankle: hump. Right ankle: hump. Left/right/left/right. Hump, hump hump. I recall finding this rather soothing and a tad bit exciting. Hmmm…

The other cat, whose name I can’t recall, sat in one place, lump-like, during nearly the entire visit. She had no apparent personality. But in a good way. (I’m trying to be nice.) I did notice, though, that she seemed quite attached to Duncan. I say this because, midway through our play date, she gathered herself up from the carpet, climbed onto Duncan’s head while he sat on our ottoman, and fell into a deep, deep sleep.

We then met sisters Duchess and Jasmine. Unlike passive puss and humpy Duncky, these kiddos seemed to have something going on up there in the cerebral cortex.

Like, if you knocked, someone would be home.

But their names! “Duchess” and “Jasmine” conveyed a level of entitlement I was certain I couldn’t satisfy even though I’d been the quintessential New Yorker with a lifetime membership to the Staten Island Yankees.

Donnee: “It’s sooo much better if we adopt two cats. They can keep each other company when we’re not home. Also, my life depends on it.” (aaahhh…his marital schtink bomb)
Me: (already under a high level of crisis-induced, imaginary stress) “Two cats!!! Whatta you crazy??? That’s NEVER gonna happen!!!”

So, when we adopted “Duchess” and “Jasmine, we changed their names to Fluffypuss and Peekaboo. Thus guaranteeing low expectations all around. As the years unfolded, I gradually defined my place in their lives: masseuse, lunch lady, maidservant. And my Donnee struggled manfully to determine his.

Confidential Couple Convo

Donnee: “I am Zeus to the cats.” (claiming power in a world where emasculating creatures like chipmunks upstage grown men in the cuteness department)
Me: “You’re Zeus to the cats?” (whatta sucker)
Donnee: “You mocketh the Zeus?” (she’s trying to push me off my pedestal)
Me: “Donnee, you’re their meal ticket, a pleasure passport to Temptations treats, AKA ‘crack cocaine for cats’.” (wishing she had some crack cocaine herself or maybe just un petit peu de pot)
Donnee: “You speak sacrilege to the Zeus.” (clinging desperately to a fantasy only another man would appreciate)
Me: “You’re their bathroom attendant. They worship you. It’s a weird kind of religion.”
Donnee: “Zeus will striketh your head with lightning bolts.” (wouldn’t it be cool if he really could shoot a couple of low-voltage bolts at her condescending little head?)
Me: “What do I care, Donnee? I’m just the lunch lady.” (co-equal losers in the battle for feline validation)

Cat Adoption Turns Metaphysical
However, as time passed, I noticed my growing ability to understand Fluffypuss and Peekaboo in a way no other human being ever could. For example, I knew that P-boo wears an invisible watch, which she checks like clockwork. How did I know? Because every morning at exactly 5:20 she stations herself outside our bedroom door.

First, she breathes heavily, like she’s doing Hot Yoga in a cat house. Then she makes mournful, swishy-swashy shuffling sounds on the floor. Swishy swashy…swishy swashy…Next, P-Boo scratches on the door 10 times and pokes one white paw underneath. Finally, she lets loose with several heart-wrenching dry heaves while telepathically screaming, “I’m starving to death! Get up and feed me, you sad excuse for a human authority figure!”

I could hear Sad Patty whispering in my ear, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”

As for F-Puss, every night at precisely 8:27, she meows, yawls and bawls from her special hiding spot behind the litter box. And then she makes a mad dash for her brown mousey, grabs it with her teeth, and drops it at my feet.

According to cat doyenne and Latin dance pro, Felis Cattus, such behavior is feline-typical. “When a cat drops a dead animal, or a symbolically dead animal, at the feet of a human, she is saying, ‘While I don’t accept your superiority, I do recognize your exclusive access to the can opener. Here is my tribute’.”

But, despite my metaphysical connectivity with Fluffypuss and Peekaboo, something was missing in our relationship. And I just couldn’t figure it out. Now, my dears, it’s time for me to leave you hanging. But be patient. Something amazing happens in the next and final episode of my story. Stay tuned, have a cannoli, and sing love songs to your pet.

-Amy Greenberg

Amy Greenberg lives in Connecticut with her husband, artist Don Perley, and their two girls, Fluffypuss and Peekaboo. Amy has no hobbies, but does enjoy going to therapy where she has learned that humor and her mental state are intimately connected. After earning an MA in English from NYU, she became a publicist; then acted in TV and radio commercials, summer stock, and Off Off Broadway theater. Amy also taught acting in New York City. Eventually, she earned an MS in education and taught children with developmental challenges for 20 years. When COVID cost her job, she decided to use humor to bring light to the darkness "as we all need a laff to help us stay afloat."  She is the author of "The Long Goodbye: An Affair of the Heart."  You can follow Amy on her blog, U Gotta Laff, on Twitter, and on Facebook.