IMG_4307I 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.

Ain’t nobody got time for another cat, I told myself.

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.

The other cats in my house? Forget it. Jake all but ignored Scrubby. Molly straight-up hated him.

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.


  1. For us it was the horribly misnamed “Sunny”. She peed on the side of the bed where I slept. We took to using waterproof mattress pads that would crinkle with every movement. She attacked our child until the child was large enough to be seen as a bad bet for sneak attacks. My husband kept threatening to remove her from the house, but I saw us as Sunny’s last hope. Who else would put up with her? Sadly, Sunny recently passed at age 12 from illness, but she was a family member through-and-through.

  2. I got my cat, Friday, as a tiny kitten and she was one of my favorite cats ever. However, she was a pee cat like Scrubby. She ruined numerous pieces of furniture, destroyed the baseboards of one apartment, cost me more than one security deposit, and probably damaged the flooring in my living room. She lived to be 17 and I loved her despite her glaring flaw.

    Now the worst problem we have is one cat (otherwise wonderful) who poops outside the litter box, which is a mere gnat-like annoyance in comparison to random peeing.

  3. I’m going home to hug my cat. She adopted us one day as we were walking through the Human Society. She was seven months old at the time with some bloody poop condition. We got that cleared up quickly. Her biggest issue is that she occasionally thinks she’s a dog and will bark at squirrels. She also comes when I call her which tickles me to no end. I love her furry face and can’t imagine life without her in it.

  4. We had an incorrigible girl kitty that even peed on wood floors after we gave up and ripped out the carpeting. 18 years and a swath of destruction wherever she went. She was SO beautiful, but so unhappy and mean. So glad our current rescues are a bit better adjusted.

  5. YES to all of this post. Every last word. Also, I am in tears for sweet Lucy. What a classy lady she was.

  6. And sometimes, that kind of love is just enough 🙂 Thank you for loving this precious boy, Scrubby, and recognizing how special he is, and for sharing sweet Lucy’s loving and tender ways. I’m so sorry that she has passed away (and know that no matter how long it’s been, it hurts). Hugs to all the fur-kids (and angel fur-kids who have passed on).

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