Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.03.08
Stanstead, Quebec


I'd put my foot down but I might squash a cat

STANSTEAD, QC | There were three animals in the house when the year began: two cats that wandered in and one dog we purposely went out and found for reasons that are still unclear to me. Sadly, our dog was hit by a car in February. It was a heartbreaking loss, even for me.

Rosie's death left a great void in our house, including a void of dog hair, which I was perfectly content to leave unfilled.

Not so the rest of the family.

"We'll only be complete if we get a dog," they said.

"We'll only be completely insane if we get a dog," I said.

As I enjoyed those bark-free, pawprint-less, non-poop-pickup days, I did my best to persuade my family that getting another dog at this time wouldn't be the best idea. My argument went something like this: "Please, God, no!"

However, it turns out God has no say in our house, and the vote was seven to one in favour of a dog. (I know; there are only six people in the house but the cats apparently also got a vote and, according to my children and against all natural instinct, they'd love to get a dog. Maybe a puppy!)

I hoped that saner heads and allergies would prevail, and for a while this seemed to be so.

But then Deb received a call from the animal shelter up in Sherbrooke. At some point, she had volunteered to be an animal foster parent. The SPA had called a few times before to ask if we could take a cat "just for a week or so" to give it a break from the shelter, but it had never worked out. This time, though, they said they needed a place for three two-month-old kittens.

Kittens! Who can resist kittens?

Me, that's who.

But, it seems, only me.

So we tried heroin for two weeks... er, I mean, we fostered kittens for two weeks.

Not content with calling them "the white one," "the striped one" and "the other one," my kids immediately gave them cute names, as in, "Oh look, Taco's sitting on the Christmas cactus" or "Polly's got her head stuck in Abby's glass of milk and - oop, now she's dumped it," and "It's okay, Dad just tripped over Oliver again."

I knew right away we were doomed.

The day before they had to go back, Deb gave me that look. And then the rationalizations started: There are so many strays at the shelter. What if they're not adopted? How could we separate three siblings? How could we send them back to cages?

I reminded my family that kittens' brains are actually Raisinettes, incapable of emotion or rational thought. "How do you know?" my middle daughter countered angrily. "Uh, science?" I said.

But there was no head-thinking going on here. This was the kitty heroin talking.

And so, after three sterilization surgeries, a $400 "donation" to the SPA and the satisfaction of giving the clerk a good chuckle (a bit too good, come to think of it), we have three adopted kittens running around the house - running into walls, running into chairs, running into cupboards. And at night, they hunt their prey, namely my toes.

This brings us to a total of five cats in the house. Even the SPA says four should be the limit. After that you become known as "those crazy cat people."

If there were this many of any other kind of creature in the house, it would be considered an infestation.

Don't even get me started about the litter.

You're probably wondering, if I'm so unhappy about this, why didn't I stick to my guns? After all, a man's home is his castle, not his animal shelter. Why did I cave?

Well, you see, cats are easier than dogs, and I figure with five cats in the house, there's no way they'd get a dog now.

Would they?