The plan was to go through my house horror in chronological order here, but recent events demand that I skip ahead.
So. The termites. We had to fumigate. Which means you leave your domicile while people pump a bunch of poison in to kill the little shits.
Obviously you can choose to find a pet-friendly hotel and bring the cats along, but because tenting ain’t cheap and this is Florida, where people actually travel to on purpose and therefore it is rather expensive to get hotels in, we stayed with my best friend, who graciously welcomed us into her home.
But she has two pitbulls. I will preface this bay saying that I’m COMPLETELY on board with the idea that pitbulls are not bad dogs. It really is all about how they’re raised. Cutty and Moose are the sweetest. That being said, we decided to board the cats at the vet rather than subject them to our housing arrangements for several reasons: a) my cats are terrified of everything b) my cats and cats in general do not like change c) we thought the cats would pee everywhere in fright and d) I love my vet, so it was a safe choice to leave them where I know they’ll be taken care of.
We got off to quite the auspicious start when we didn’t have an *actual* time to be out – “either the morning or afternoon,” she said. But it was ok, they would give us time to get out before they started pumping full of poison.
REASSURING. SO MUCH SO.
We decided 10am was a good time to vacate without sending the cats into further panic by introducing the mere possibility of being tented over and poisoned – and also what they’re most afraid of – strangers.
As it usually is, getting them into the carriers was a super fun ordeal, full of singing and beautiful harmonizing. It’s always the happiest of times when they sing the songs of their people at full volume! To make things ever-so-much better, when transporting them from car to vet, it was pouring. Glorious! Outside air AND wet! Their favorite combo! So I said goodbye to my very angry and wet cats, after discussing Taco’s blood poop (that’s been a thing) and went on my merry way to the house of dogs.
After 24 hours of poison, the tent comes off, then they open all the windows (a concern of ours since most of them don’t open) and use giant fans to blow all the remnants of poison bad stuff out into the ozone. It sits overnight until some person who is (I hope) extremely well-trained in measuring poison gas levels comes in and deems your home at “acceptable” levels. They remove the “DANGER THIS PLACE WILL KILL YOU I’M NOT KIDDING” signs and put up ones that say “HUMANS WON’T DIE HERE I PROMISE.”
Of course, who believes that these people REALLY do their jobs properly? I certainly didn’t, so we tested it ourselves before picking up the delicate kittles. After 3 hours of re-airing and cleaning and not dying ourselves, I went off to get the babies.
It just so happens that both boys refused to poop until the morning of pickup. Was their poop in any way alarming? Of course not. Perfect tootsie roll nuggets without a hint of blood.
As I patted myself on the bad for my fantastic luck, I headed off for a happy reunion between cats and home.
About halfway through the ride and the caterwauling, I noticed a smell. The smell got stronger and stronger. I checked my AC settings. Did I have recirculated air turned off? Did I have it on defrost? As I did my mental checklist, it dawned on me. IT WAS CAT PEE. THE HAUNTINGLY AROMATIC SMELL OF AMMONIA.
Lemme tell ya what an awesome rest of the drive that was. Which cat was it? Is it sloshing all over my car seats? What am I going to do upon arrival to manage this?
SURPRISE! It was Taco (shocker!). The husband met me outside with a towel and help. Fortunately he was in the hard carrying case with a pee pad, so while it didn’t slosh or soak through all over my car, he did get to sit in it for a good 15 minutes. Did I mention it was rush hour?
Options: try to bathe a cat that’s already clearly traumatized? No.
Wet paper towel wipe down, towel dry – hope for the best. Whattya gonna do?
He still smells like pee a lil. We accept this.
It’s also amazing that the vet put Taco in the hard case and Moosh in the soft. I usually give Moosh the hard because he’s a TINY bit fatter (they’re both obese by vet standards though).
Plus side, I stopped worrying about poison gas pockets. I ALMOST thought that maybe finding one and inhaling really deep wouldn’t be the worst thing at that point…
Clearly, we’ve all made it through this alive, except for two baby geckos (I was horrified) and ideally all of the termites (also a pile of ants in my bathtub that established where a point of entry for them was) – also hopefully every other insect in the entire world and please don’t tell me that some of them are good, like spiders, because I appreciate them as a whole but RESPECTFULLY I DON’T WANT THEM IN MY GD HOUSE.
Oh, and as you can see, the cats are full over their traumatizing experience.
One super fun fact about buying a home is everything either requires very precise timing or sitting around waiting. As I’ve expressed multiple times before in this blog, I am a TERRIBLE sit-around-and-waiter. The worst person ever.
I’m really not sure how people manage selling a home while simultaneously purchasing one. Basically, your home really isn’t yours (or in the case of selling, NOT yours) until the day of closing. The only thing I can possibly compare the fun and games of purchasing a home to is playing Super Mario Brothers, where some mistakes will just make you lose your fireballs, a subsequent mistake will make you teeny tiny Mario and the next mistake will make you dead. Except in the game, you can use another life if you have one, and maybe don’t have to start all over from the beginning if you’re far enough along. But if you’re DEAD-dead, you start alllll over from level one. Hey, doesn’t that sounds uplifting?
A partial but not remotely complete list of things that could possibly make you start all over again:
- You put in a full price offer and someone outbids you
- You put in an offer that is more in tune to what the house is worth and you get rejected or counteroffered with more than you want to pay
- Your offer is accepted, and the home inspector finds things that are icky and scare you off
- The home inspector finds things you ask the seller to fix as a condition of buying the home and the seller declines
- You do something to screw up your mortgage approval before underwriting (lose your job, put something major on credit)
- The house appraises for less than you’re supposed to buy it for
- The appraiser finds that the pool on the property is actually a tiny bit on your neighbors’ property even though it was approved as-is 20 years ago (true story, happened to someone I know, and the surveyor said “Oh, our equipment is much more precise now” – really?? Whose fault is that??)
- A natural disaster destroys the home before you close (unlikely but totally possible)
- You don’t fill out the 28357348 forms you’re required to within whatever timeline is needed
- You fill out the forms incorrectly
- Your agent/broker screws up your paperwork
- The title company finds a problem with the title of the house (there’s a lien on the property or a weird second mortgage or the deed wasn’t transferred properly at some point)
- Your wire transfer doesn’t go through (ours went REALLY slow and gave us many panic attacks)
- You learn at walkthrough (JUST prior to closing) that the repairs agreed upon in the contract weren’t done properly
- You can’t find home insurance (if you’re in a “coastal” part of Florida, you have limited options – Geico, for example, declined to offer coverage)
Some of these things can be fixed. Some cannot. If they can’t, congratulations! You get to start the whole process over again. There’s no “saved game.”
So if you’re buying AND selling, you have all of the above TIMES TWO. Noooo thank you.
But if you’re lucky, you have really good people in your corner – ideally, your agent, who hopefully answers your questions in a timely manner without having to call them 827593 times to remind them to answer you (unlike mine) — or your loan officer, who should be a super cheery, wonderful lady (shoutout to Michelle at GTE) who was always full of positivity even when she had to talk to your shitbag agent that you KNOW was a dick. Or your insurance guy, who actually answered your emails and calls even if it was 9pm (I thanked him profusely and recommended him to everyone I know). And most important, friends and family – the friend that referred me to the insurance guy, my mom who listened to hours of overanalyzing, the kitties, who didn’t give two shits (but get points for purrs and snuggles). Oh, and the husband, a saint of a human being for not running far, far away as most sane people would if they had to deal with a high anxiety, overwound cat mom such as myself.
We must have looked at 50+ houses. It can get terribly depressing. Especially knowing that if we just went up to our max approved loan amount, we would have had SO much more choice. But we’re responsible. Or at least we thought we were. We happen to live in a very popular county in Florida. You don’t get much for under 200k. First world problems? Probably. But it still sucks.
We had pretty reasonable must-haves. Concrete block (we have hurricanes), having most big ticket items newer (HVAC, roof, water heater), no flood insurance required (harder than you think, also different from hurricane evacuation zones), and enough yard to be a buffer between neighbors. When we started, we thought 2 bathrooms were a must-have. THAT is a rare diamond not found in our price range. Unless you give up the concrete block for a wood frame. Everything is a trade-off. And of course, none of it matters if you find the house and it goes under contract before you can put in an offer (that happened only once, and I think I’m still salty about it because it was the ONLY house that fit all our wants except for the 2 bathrooms and it was meticulously cared for by an old school guy who lived there for 60 years and even had a hand-carved door that his kids gave him as an anniversary present).
If you’ve never experienced the amazing world of flipped homes, I urge you to go check out some listings. Everything looks like HGTV in pictures online but half of the houses are baffling in person. The one that sticks out to me is the one that was 199K with a completely brand new kitchen… and everything else in the 1960s house just had a coat of paint. Except the yellowed tile windowsills. The electrical box looked like it was going to rust away and/or explode.
And what’s MOST baffling is not that these people thought that a super fance kitchen would fool buyers, but that the electrical crap won’t even pass inspection for insurance so fooling buyers is moot…then again, knowing what I know now, maybe there’s a way around that.
We went to an open house that was over budget but we were there so why not? 239K for 800 sq. ft. It had beautiful tiles in the kitchen, a butcher block countertop, a barn door bathroom – but to get to the bathroom, you had to walk through the kitchen. Which, by the way, is at the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom. You have to walk around walls to pee in the middle of the night? Nooooo thank you. I think it finally sold for like, 220k – but I pity the people who had to make that work for that price.
Basically, the world of house hunting is a bitch when you’re trying to stay on a budget. If you find a house you like, do you like the neighborhood? Is it convenient? Is it slummy? Are all the houses around you rentals? Do your neighbors have loud dogs?
Things we ruled out houses we liked for:
- Teenagers milling around the neighborhood midday (even though the house was 2 blocks from a popular Italian market, which is apparently a HUGE selling point)
- Musty smell despite no evidence of water intrusion (it smelled like our mock courtroom which I know has water issues)
- Yard too big
- Bedroom too small
But mostly we ruled things out for being halfassed done and overly expensive. Or not done at all and terrifying.
In the end, it comes down to what you’re willing to sacrifice for the things you really want. You’re not going to get it all. It’s kind of a depressing thing to realize. And, of course, do the cats have good windows? That did weigh into many, many decisions. For all the problems in the house we ended up in, the cats have good windows and looooots of squirrels. Of course, by “good” I just mean “big” – they all need to be replaced. Including the one that has a window unit in it that was supposed to be replaced BEFORE we closed that as of today, went unreplaced for a THIRD TIME due to wrong size. THREE TIMES. I honestly thought the husband was joking but alas, he was not.
The husband and I had been meaning to buy a home for years, but we put it off and put it off and put it off…until the day that our landlord informed us he was selling our townhouse and would we like to buy it? (the answer is a RESOUNDING no, BTW.) Since we were off-lease at that point, we didn’t know how long we had to find a place and get a loan and close and all that.
We could have rented somewhere, but the rents around here in Florida have skyrocketed and frankly, it just didn’t make sense when we could be putting that money into something of our own. At least, that’s what they tell you.
So we started out. Hello, sticker shock. If you want a house for under $200k around here, you better WORK. They’re all either flipped and overpriced, pieces of absolute crap or snapped up faster than you can line up a showing. To start, we had a very nice lady as our agent, who helped us put an offer on a house in a lovely part of town, but we couldn’t agree on repairs (it needed a roof) so we went back on the hunt. And although the lady was very nice, we didn’t feel like we fully meshed with her, so we tried a friend of a friend who was a bit more, shall we say, sharky.
Listen, the kittles needed a roof over their heads, and we felt like we were under a time crunch. It seemed reasonable at the time to go with a more aggressive approach. This was the BIGGEST GIGANTIC-EST TERRIBLE NO-GOOD MISTAKE EVER. I’ll skip to the end, in case you’re worrying about the cats. They do have a roof over their heads. We now own a house. But their mommy and daddy are stressed to the max in what seems like a neverending tale of shitstorm.
It’s our first time buying a home. We didn’t know what the hell we were in for. And my hope is that this blog, aside from being a helpful guide to cat people with lemon cats, is helpful for just ONE OTHER PERSON so they don’t have to go through what we did.
This is a very long story so I’ll break it up into smaller pieces for brevity’s sake. Here’s what you’re going to learn:
- Why real estate agents for buyers are useless (sorry to any good ones out there, but in Florida, it’s really a misnomer to say you’re working for the buyer because LEGALLY all you are is someone that shows the house for the seller’s agent)
- Why you should hire your own home inspector – not the one your agent recommends – and why you might as well put out the money to set up termite, plumbing, electrical, structural and roofing inspectors that SPECIALIZE in what they’re doing
- Why you should be extremely specific in your contract and not assume that the professionals aren’t just using terms of the trade
- What you should know about closing costs
- What you should know about flood maps
- How to estimate your future property taxes
- Who’s responsible for making sure you don’t get screwed (hint: it’s you. Only you.)
- How to find out what you need to know about utilities when your shitty agent never gets back to you
- How to know if your agent is a total shitbag
- What to know when you do final walkthrough
- What you need to know about a home built before the 1980s
- How much windows cost
- Why you need to check for termites even in a block home
- What legal recourse you have when you discover things after you close
- What happens when you complain about your terrible service to your agent’s broker
- Why using a good contractor is important
- Why you should always get a second opinion
- And many things in between.
Excited? Stay tuned.
I spent my vacation making sure Taco recovered both from his extraction and the drugs necessary to stop him from clawing out his mouth stitches. My husband and I both did this sick. In our entire 15 years of relationship, we’ve never been sick at the same time but we managed it this time – with a recovering Taco to boot.
Taco’s fine. Mostly. We anxiously watched him go in and out of the litter box without peeing – panicking about crystals and blockage and god forbid starting the peeing on the couch thing again (Taco has Idiopathic Urinary Cystitis which you can read alllll about). But ultimately he’s peeing normally again, he healed just fine and he’s off antibiotics, which is good, because now he has diarrhea. In fact, he’s had it all week. We’ve tried pet store probiotics but his poop is still not log-shaped.
My poor baby. The vet had us start some pill yesterday which amazingly we got down his gullet TWICE! Without losing fingers! And a vet-approved antibiotic. Also pumpkin. As of this morning it hadn’t all worked yet but I have high hopes for the next BM.
When did this become my life? Tracking litter boxes?
Side note, Taco’s bottom tooth gets stuck on his upper lip sometimes now which unfortunately caused a sore. The vet says he’ll get a callus – but aside from removing the bottom tooth (hell no) there’s no cure for the dumdum face he makes when it gets stuck. Can I still love him? We’ll see.
I only write a blog when I have interesting cat things. Since for the most part, I’ve already written about everything the cats have done, there’s been a lack of subject info. Also, I’ve been back in school full time and working full time. That’s a lot. In case you wondered.
So right now what I’m doing is staring at a very drugged up Taco, making sure that he doesn’t vomit up all the food I shouldn’t have given him (I read everything carefully except that part – there was a lot to remember!)
Right. So. Taco is drugged up why?
It starts with an aborted biting of his brother when his jaw got stuck open for a few seconds. Then a coughing fit a few days later. While I AM an overprotective cat mom (as the title says), normally these two things wouldn’t send me running straight to the vet. What did, though, is information that Taco’s biological brother died recently after a sudden onset of respiratory illness.
This started a very expensive process that results in where we are now, drunk AF Taco.
Turns out that his brother probably died from heart failure. There’s essentially no way to predict it, but you can go through various tests to see if it’s something else, like asthma or heartworm. Or, in Taco’s case, you never cough again and therefore spike everyone’s blood pressure to find… a heart murmur and an abscessed canine tooth.
But because of the tooth he needed a dental cleaning and extraction. And because of the murmur he needed an echocardiogram to make sure he could handle the anesthesia. Did I mention is hasn’t coughed once since the fit that launched this?
Many, many dollars later, Taco is drunk and has two teeth less than he started with. I fed him too much when I got him home, which I didn’t realize until I had to call the vet to ask if it was ok that he wouldn’t stop licking his paws – I mentioned “fed lots of food” and got a “Whaaa didn’t we tell you only a small meal?”
I was listening to every instruction. The important parts were “he was overly active even after the pain shot and pawing at his stitches so we gave him an extra drug – he’s going to be super hammered about an hour after you get home and make sure you take off the bandage on his arm.” I didn’t remember an emphasis on small meal although they did go over the paper they gave me line by line – I was too caught up in the rest of the things to worry about.
He needed the dose she gives obese cats. That’s my Taco! Who, may I add, is the BAD DRUNK. The one that keeps getting up even after you put them to bed to wander around drunkenly and leaves you constantly fearing for their safety.
So now I’m being a worrywort mommy trying to make sure a) he doesn’t choke while vomiting up the too-much food I gave him and b) he doesn’t fall off of things.
Oh, and as for the reason I called the vet in the first place, the licking the paw thing? Yeah, he stopped that while I was on hold. Dick.
I haven’t written in this blog in what is probably literally years…
It’s funny, too, because I started the blog when I was trying to alleviate some emotion about my sick kitty, and found it incredibly cathartic and fun all the way through. But then, when the worst thing ever to happen to me in my life happened, I didn’t write. It was just too raw. My dad died in February. I know this is a natural path of life — parents are supposed to die before their kids. But I was NOT ready. And for all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t have had to be. It was sudden, it was unexpected, and it hit me like a pile of shit and bricks and anvils. I also get that people have way worse things happen to them. But it’s my DAD. I only had one.
So this is what I did instead — I went back to school. I’m a 35-year-old married cat mother of 2 co-ed. It was one of the last things I talked to my dad about. Literally the day before. And then, against all historical evidence and past actions, I actually followed through on something I talked about. Not sure why my dad’s death shocked me into doing something. It’s not like my dad would be any less proud of me from beyond the grave. He thought everything I did was wonderful.
Now here I am, working a full time job and going to school full time, too. At first I just wanted to follow up my AA with a Bachelors (in Legal Studies, if you’re wondering) but now that I’ve discovered how much better school is when you’re old enough to appreciate it, I’m looking at law school. Why the hell not? But for now, I’m keeping my options open, which brings me to chemistry. Why chem, you may ask? That’s not exactly a law-y thing. And you would be incorrect. Patents are filed by patent attorneys and patent agents, and to even take the test to become one of those, you have to have a BS in an approved science. Now, I’m a smart girl. But math doesn’t come easy to me, so I avoid it. I think I got a D in chem however many years ago my sophmore year of high school was. But to get pretty much any degree in science, you gotta chem. So I’m chem-in’. Which brings me to cats (yes, I haven’t forgotten the cats). As I was preparing by reading for next week’s class (dude, I am SO adult about this – ME, preparing! I probably would have given my dad a heart attack if he was still alive), I learned that a positively charged ion is called a CATION. So now I’ll forever remember that a cation is a happy kitty.
What’s the moral of this story? Associate every term with cats and graduate summa cum laude. Also, appreciate the people and furballs you love EVERY single day because one day some shitty dumbfuck blood clot can pop in and kill them in a matter of seconds. You don’t always get a tomorrow or even a goodbye.
My mom and I took Fatty to my vet yesterday, because I love my vet for very important reasons. She never acts as if wanting to have all the information is annoying, she explains everything, she gives options, and she really spends the time with you. She is a great cat vet but even better as a cat mom counselor. We didn’t really know what to expect with Fatty’s cancer diagnosis.
Now we know. She found a mass, so it’s progressing pretty quickly. We have a questionnaire to help us figure out when is the right time, before he suffers. It’s going to be a lot earlier than we thought.
So he is getting everything his little heart desires. Tuna, trips outside, KFC.
Why would a cat that’s spent 17 years inside have any desire to go outside? LEMME TELL YA. When he was younger (and when I was, too), his favorite thing in the world and my LEAST favorite thing in the world was to haul ass out the front door at 5am when I opened it to get the paper, sans shoes or glasses. Yeah, I got to chase after him barefoot and blind, around the house into the backyard, where he would suddenly stop, reverse course and haul ass back the way he came and into the house. Super fun. I especially enjoyed stepping on slugs. At 5am. He’s been too fat and old to pull that kinda crap for quite awhile, but it seems his affinity for outside still stands. My mom took him out and let him roam today.
He’s not running anymore, he just sits down and watches things go on. When I visited earlier today, he nestled himself under a cabana of elephant ear leaves (I have no idea what plant it was, I’m sure my mom will give me an earful about why I should know, whatever it is, it’s Florida native because that’s all my mom will plant).
What Fatty wants, Fatty gets.
I started this blog years ago when I was sitting with my sick “firstborn” (he wasn’t my first cat ever, but he is the first that I alone chose at the age of 16). He recovered, as he always did, from the anemia that time, the pancreatitis before, the blocked urinary tract before that. Now here I sit again with my firstborn on my lap, my baby, my chunkalunk, the one I cried over for weeks when I moved out of my mom’s house. But this time there’s no recovery. His birthday is a day before mine, March 1st. He just turned 17. And he went from feeling a bit bonier than usual on Monday to a cancer diagnosis on Wednesday. These little a-holes hide everything until it’s really bad. His normal girth didn’t change, apparently because it’s not filled with fluid, and didn’t even have any interest in the one true love of his life – food. So I’m here visiting, as I will do every day that I can until he tells us it’s time.
I know 17 is a long life for a cat, but I suppose somehow I expected him to be around forever. It’s life, I know, but when he’s sitting here on my lap (which was a rare privilege for him to bestow before), my heart breaks. It feels more like he’s trying to comfort ME. When my legs go numb eventually and I am going to have to move him off my lap, he will fight to get back on it. He’s just sitting and purring and occasionally looking up at me with his big eyes and his fu manchu whiskers (both reasons I fell in love with him at the shelter in the first place).
This is the life of an animal parent, we take on these furry babies and hopefully give them the best life they can have knowing fully that we will, almost certainly, outlive them.
I apologize for being a downer. A blog about a dying kitty (especially after so many months of not posting anything) is not exactly uplifting material. But, well, this blog is about being a crazy cat lady, and crazy cat ladies all have to deal with this at some point.
So many things have changed since I was 16, but Fatty has always been my kitty. This sucks.
I can understand that cats identify with smell, which SUPPOSEDLY accounts for why they smoosh their heads into our faces, legs, arms, etc. (although I maintain that MY kitties do it simply because they love me, even though that completely goes against my undying trust in science).
This does not account for why the mere opening of the front door to greet a human that they do not encounter on a regular basis sends my boys into panicked blurs of fur, not to be seen again until several hours after the offending “alien” has left.
Judging from my own experiences at fellow cat-owners’ homes, I’m not alone. I’m also not UN-alone, because some people have cats do not run like their tails are on fire when I walk in. This is not to say that I am necessarily ACCEPTED by these cats; my friend’s cat, whom I have known since kittenhood, will meow at me like I’m killing him and swat at me (but also still allow me to pet as he wishes).
In my mind, aside from smell, I feel like we all look the same to cats. They don’t have great eyesight and they have pea brains. We should all be equal until they’re close enough to sniff.
Furthermore, no stranger has ever done anything to my cats for them to have emotional damage from (well, Moosh maybe, but oddly enough, he’s the more friendly of the two). Since all humans have EVER done to them is feed them and love them, WHY DO THEY ACT LIKE ANYONE NEW IS GOING TO KILL THEM?
Even-further-more, why am I even remotely attempting to understand my cats? These are the same assholes that will sleep in the exact same place every day and then one day, randomly decide to to change it up and sleep in a place that is so impossible for me to find that I may or may not be convinced that they got out somehow and spend an hour panicking and retracing my steps.
It’s really just like arguing with a stupid person. I should stop.