Ever had something pretty bad and/or annoying happen to you? It wasn’t a big thing, but even as years pass you still remember it and along the way it becomes one of those stories you tell because you still remember how it made you feel?
Ever had that, then had someone tell you years later that the thing you thought happened, was actually something else entirely, and even worse than what you though had happened? And it just it just brings back all those negative emotions again – only this time you don’t have the original source to take it out on? So you’re just going round in circles feeling angry and annoyed and have no outlet for which to vent?
Yeah, great way for me to start the weekend.
About 3 years ago, my mother was divorcing my then Stepfather (a whole other story in itself), but everything had more or less been in limbo until they sold the house. My mum had moved in with her new boyfriend, my Stepfather was staying somewhere, coming home every few days for more clothes, so it was basically just my brother living there. When they finally succeeded, we had a window of about 2 months to get everything out. I was currently looking for a new flat anyway (current place was a postage stamp) – so was hoping to find a place that could fit my current stuff, and all the stuff still at home, while my brother was being hoisted off on some family friends since he couldn’t afford a place on his own. But as we were preparing all this, we suddenly realised a problem.
Who was taking the cat?
The only photo I have – taken several years before this story happened.
Simba, our somewhat overweight, 16 year old ginger tom – who we’d raised and fed and brushed and loved wasn’t aware of the situation, but my brother and I quickly realised with some dawning horror that with the house no longer ours, none of us actually could take him. My brother was moving to a house with a kitten – and even if his host family had been willing (which they weren’t), Simba had proven he did not live comfortably with other animals in the past. My mum had washed her hands of him the moment she’d moved out a year before and had no intention or desire to take him in – she’d wanted to give him away years ago. And my Stepfather said his place didn’t allow pets.
With all this in mind, I quickly set out to finding a new place pronto. If I could find a flat that allowed pets, all would be well. After 16 years there was no way I was handing over the family pet to a shelter – our kitty was old, tired, and starting to suffer from arthritis. He had to be groomed every few days because he could no longer reach his back, and stress of moving was going to be bad enough – never mind putting him in some sort of rescue home. Taking care of him in his senior years was a task I was happy to take up.
Of course, that was easier said than done. I soon discovered that if you wanted a pet in this city, you’d better be prepared to pay through the nose for it. Every flat within my budget had a strict ‘no pet’ clause in the contract. The few that looked promising often turned out to be scams, and the one genuine offer ended up being so far on the outskirts of the city the bus would have crippled me financially.
With only a few weeks to go, I admitted to my mum and brother that there was no way I could find a flat in time that would let me take the cat – and then mum suggested I start asking my Dad’s side of the family. Which turned out to be a stroke of bloody genius.
Dad, when hearing Simba’s plight, promised to ask around. And if nobody could take the cat in, he would do it himself. Not long after, he called back with the good news. My Nana, who had once had cats and still loved them dearly, would be happy to take the old boy.
It was such a relief. Nearly 2 months of constant failure, stress and sleepless nights worrying about our pets fate and I’d finally found him a good home. I called my mum and my brother to tell them the good news, accepted a non-pet flat that I’d fallen in love with, and a week later, went to the house to pack up the last of my stuff. Although he wasn’t meant to be, my Stepfather was there too. When he asked in passing what was going to happen to the cat, I told him the solution to the problem, which he seemed to accept.
A few hours later, while my mum was helping me cart stuff to my room, I received a text from my Stepfather
Took the cat – don’t worry.
Livid did not do justice to how I felt. While the others had all shirked any responsibility I’d bent over backwards to find Simba a home. My Stepfather said he couldn’t take him, and now that I’d actually succeeded he’d changed his mind? My mother suggested that my former-stepdaughter had quilted him into it – as to be honest, Simba had always loved the men in the family most – especially my Stepfather. I wondered if he’d just said it to be difficult and in the hopes that we might beg for him to take him as some sort of power trip.
But as it was, the cat was gone – and gone with his favourite member of the family. I might not be happy about it – this solution meant we’d never see him again, but least I knew he was safe. Told my Nana the bad news, and went about my life.
Only now in hindsight do I wish I’d called him and asked him just what he’d been thinking…
Over the years I did wonder about Simba. He was old, so I had no clue if he was even still alive – but given our less than stellar history over the years, I really didn’t think I could call up my Stepfather and go ‘Hi, how’s the cat?’ So I let it be.
Then tonight. My brother called me and the topic of pets came up. He recently bought a kitten and the topic of Simba came up. Both of us wondered if he was even still alive, and I mused about how part of me still wanted to call up former Stepfather and find out how he was. To which my brother replied with some confusion
“…But [Stepfather] doesn’t have him.”
“He gave him away to friends of his.”
“…Are you telling me he stole Simba then just gave him away?”
“No…He took the cat to give to his friends because they really wanted a cat. Didn’t we have this conversation years ago?”
“NO! You just told me ‘he took the cat!’”
All the anger and fury from 3 years ago just bubbled up to the surface. All this time I let the fact that my Stepfather took Simba go, because Simba loved my Stepfather most and would probably be happiest with him – even if it meant we couldn’t see him anymore. And now my brother tells me the real story is that my Stepdad took the cat to give to friends, not family who would have let me continue to see him?
The fact that my brother genuinely seemed to think this conversation had happened before suggests that he did have it – with my mother. Which makes me very angry at her for not telling me – you know, the one who went crazy trying to find a home in the first place? Though I should probably actually ask her before I start getting angry about that.
Deep down, part of me understands that this was a communication breakdown – had I asked my brother the full story he would have told me, and I could have at least ambushed my Stepfather and asked him why he’d done it – and gotten the contact details of those who had him so that if they had issue with him in old age I could make sure he still had a home. As it is now, my brother has lost any contact details so our cat’s fate remains unknown, and I am now left with this frustrating rage that my efforts were brushed aside and betrayed. And considering my brother’s final remark on the subject – “well, it was years ago” – even if I do bring it up again, people will assume I’m overreacting.
Okay, so I didn’t live in the house anymore. I’d been at university with infrequent visits before that and Simba probably couldn’t recognise me from Jack. But I was the one who realised he wasn’t able to groom himself anymore – and started grooming him myself. I was the only one who bought him toys and the first one to realise he needed to go on a better diet in his old age. And when I was home, he slept on my bed. If it had been financially possible I would have happily taken him in – I said no to great flats because they weren’t pet friend at the start of my search. And I wanted to know I could keep an eye on him and see him from time to time – hell even help with his vet bills if necessary. I don’t care that it was years ago – I wasn’t given the opportunity to be properly upset then.
…And there’s nothing I can do about it!