(or How I Learned to Stop Hating My Cat and Accept Him for Who He Is)
For a long time, I thought I hated my cat, Kermit. I adopted him as a tiny kitten from a local shelter, and if I had known what I was getting myself into, I might have changed my mind. From the moment he came home he was absolutely nuts. He would climb on top of the highest kitchen cabinets and run around up there, making the most god-awful wailing noise while attacking his own tail. One time he even chewed through my phone wires. Worst of all, he almost never slept. Every time I would come home after work I would brace myself for the destruction that surely awaited me.
At home I spent my time yelling at him and locking him in the bathroom when I couldn’t take it anymore. I got a cat because I wanted space, but Kermit was always in my face begging for attention. He was the neediest cat I had ever met. For a while I even considered returning him to the shelter, but then he’d sit next to me and purr, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
You might think this was just him being a kitten, but no. He was still doing the same things as an adult cat, and if anything he got naughtier and more ridiculous with each passing year. My furniture became a series of perches that he jumped onto so he could follow me around no matter where I was in the house. He yowled for his canned food every morning so loudly that I feared he would wake the neighbors. He tried to eat any flowers I brought into the house, even the fake ones. And he still rarely slept.
The year that Kermit turned five, I moved to a new apartment. My dad and some of my friends from work helped me with the move. We worked for hours, making several trips back and forth. At the end of the day, I returned to my now empty old apartment. I looked all over the place for Kermit, so I could take him over to the new apartment. He is a very shy cat around strangers, so I figured he would just find somewhere out of the way to hunker down during all of the excitement. But he was nowhere to be found, and it was getting dark outside.
I started panicking, because Kermit has always been an indoor only kitty. Mainly because, let’s face it, he wouldn’t last a day in the wild. Did he get outside somehow? It was March, so there was still a dusting of snow on the ground. There were no kitty paw prints around, but the snow only covered a few spots around the edges of the building, so it was still possible that he could have gotten out.
All of a sudden it hit me that Kermit might be gone for good. I remember sliding down against one of the bare walls and just crying my eyes out. At that moment I realized how much I really did love Kermit. He had annoyed me for his entire little life, so much that I believed that I hated him. But now he was gone, and it was all my fault for not putting him in the cat carrier during the move.
I called my dad in tears. “Dad, I can’t find Kermit!” I cried.
My dad immediately came over with his extra strength flashlight. We combed the place all over again, looking in empty cabinets and calling for him. But Kermit wasn’t anywhere, and I started crying even harder.
“Why don’t we go over to your new place?” said my dad. “Maybe he got stuck in one of the boxes or something.”
We drove to my new apartment together, and trekked up the stairs. I wasn’t very hopeful at this point that we would find Kermit. We called for him as we searched through the rooms crammed with all of my boxed-up belongings, but there was no answering meow.
Then my dad looked down at my boxspring mattress, which was leaning against one of the walls. There was a small rip along the bottom of it, where the fabric stretched across. My dad started feeling along one of edges. He said to me, “Hey, feel this.”
I ran my fingers over the warm and heavy lump along the bottom edge of the boxspring, and my heart leapt into my throat.
My dad pulled the fabric covering the bottom of the boxspring back, and there was my Kermit, frozen in place with huge eyes. “Is this your cat?” said my dad, grinning at me.
“Oh, it’s Kermit!” I exclaimed. I wanted to grab him for a hug but I knew he would just bolt away, so my dad and I let him be. He didn’t come out for several hours after that, but I can’t say that I blame him.
So, how did Kermit get into the boxspring in the first place? Well, like I said before, he is a shy cat around strangers, and his favorite hiding place has always been underneath the bed. The nearest I can figure it, he probably got scared by all of the people coming in and out during the move, hid under the bed, and then climbed into the boxspring through the rip in the fabric for some extra safety.
Funnily enough, after hearing the story, one of the guys who helped to move my bed remarked that when he picked up my boxspring and turned it on its side to get it through the door and onto the truck, he felt something heavy sliding down the side of the boxspring. He thought it was a little weird at the time, but then he forgot about it in all of the activity.
So, poor Kermit rode over in the truck to my new apartment in the boxspring mattress, got carried up the stairs, and stayed trapped in the boxspring for several hours afterwards. To my memory this is the only time that Kermit was too terrified to be a nuisance, at least for a little while.
I wish I could say that the experience changed him, but nope. In a few days he was back to his old obnoxious self: leaping from perch to perch on my furniture, yowling for food and attention at all hours of the day, chasing his tail. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I now knew that I loved Kermit, in spite of his quirks. And I may not have ever known how much I loved him, if it wasn’t for the rip in my boxspring mattress.