I wasn’t looking to fall in love with Scrubby Ruettimann.
Back in 2006, I had a full-time job and three cats. I was working for Pfizer and trying to save a struggling animal rescue. And I had a private desire to start a family.
But there he was — all sick and stupid and ugly — and I couldn’t help but fall in love with a dumb ginger cat.
My oldest cat, Lucy, stepped in and operated like Scrubby’s biological mom. She tried to show him the ways of being a cat, but he was too spazzy to pay attention.
So it was left to the humans in the house — me, my husband, my 19-year-old brother who was staying in our basement because, well, I don’t remember why — to partner up with Lucy and make Scrub-a-dub into a man cat. Lucy taught him the basics (scratching post, litter box), and we bought a Ronco fishing pole and attached a mousey to the end. We played “cast-a-mousey” up and down the basement stairs until Scrubs would pant like a horse.
There were a million other games, too, and Lucy never gave up on Scrubby. On her dying day, while struggling with seizures and suffering the side effects of a stroke, she still cleaned his ears like it was her full-time job.
Scrubby has always been — and will always be — loved.
Make no doubt about it, he’s our #1 ginger cat. He has a great life that includes a personal bedroom, a window bird feeder where he can watch TV, and a ton of other toys. We buy feathers and cat condos. We play with Scrubby for 20 minutes, each night, before we go to bed.
And you know what? He’s a big dick.
This big-beef-and-cheese of a cat goes through rough patches where he thinks that his territory (our house) is insecure and under attack from Al Qaeda. He wants to show the world that things belong to him.
“This kitty bed? It’s mine.” (Squirt.)
We have tried just about everything to fix his peeing. Bribery. Aromatherapy. Paxil. Ativan. Zoloft. Buspar. Prozac. Elavil. Clomacalm. Anxitane. But Scrubby is an inbred cat who lived with dozens of other kittens in Michigan. He might always pee. The odds are not in our favor. We buy Nature’s Miracle by the gallon.
What’s worse is that we’ve decided to take him off Paxil because it’s not doing anything for him. The withdrawal symptoms are tough. He peed on a chair, last night, and Jesus wept.
(It’s been a rough week.)
And yet, for some stupid reason, we love this guy. We know there is no backstop. Nobody else will ever love him as much as us. And no matter how much I love him, he will probably always pee. He might go months or even years without an incident, but I know that he will rise again and pee on something we value.
Oh well. I could have nice things. Instead, I have Scrubby.
Too many people shirk their obligations in life, which is how I ended up with four cats. I took on the responsibility of loving an inbred cat. While love won’t fix his behavior, it’s the only thing I know how to offer.
And love won’t hurt.