About Patches

Update, June 26, 2018: After I first wrote this post, I talked with the rescue folks at Animal Assist, the successor organization to Lake Pet Rescue, who agreed to take Patches for two or three weeks to get her back on track with the litter. On June 22, she came back to me and all seemed well for a while. Then, this morning she started peeing on my bed again. Animal Assist had no space available, so I took her to Marin Humane Society in Novato. The end of this post still very much applies.

Recent weeks have taken a toll. The ammonia in Patches’ urine led to some kind of respiratory ailment that I spent two days at home recovering from. When finally I ventured out, I was involved in a traffic collision—entirely my fault—which I attribute in part to my illness and in part to the fact I drive so much that I’m failing to maintain focus. My Prius was totaled. I suffered a crack in my sternum, which was compounded by what developed into, if it was not already, bronchitis: Coughing was supremely painful and, when you have bronchitis, you do a lot of that. That’s not the whole of it, but it’s enough. I can safely say that these last few weeks have been absolute hell.


After Admiral Janeway, a cat who had been with me since 2003 died on February 9, 2018, I rapidly came to the conclusion that the best way I could thank her for being in my life and being such an awesome cat was to welcome another cat to a forever home.

So on Monday, the 12th, my mother and I went down to the PetSmart in Rohnert Park—all the other adoption agencies were closed—and adopted Patches, a tortoise shell calico.

Patches was in the first cage I opened. She immediately grabbed onto me with all she had, showering me with an affection that never dimmed and bringing a smile to a face that has smiled too rarely. This is a cat who has adorable down pat. I think somebody must have told her when she was a kitten to never forget how to do that.

She manifested ringworm a few days later, we put her up at the veterinarian for a long, long month while we deep cleaned the house and let people who are actually good at giving pills to cats give her her medicine. I went down every day that they were open to visit, sometimes just for a few minutes, sometimes for over an hour.

It was in triumph that we brought her home, but of course on the Saturday of a three-day weekend (Memorial Day), she started peeing on my bed. She had a urinary tract infection which we had her treated for but I guess the prominent—at least to a cat—effect of such an infection is painful urination. She associated that pain with the litter box and would no longer pee in the box.

It’s been a very long couple of weeks of astronomical laundry bills as she peed on my bedding and peed on my clothing but, after following all the advice I could, and after an especially catastrophic morning yesterday (June 9), I have been forced to conclude that I can no longer trust her in the house. I am giving her back to the agency we adopted her from.

To say this is an unhappy moment does not even begin to cover it.

To Patches: Thank you for all the love you offered me. I wish with all my heart I could have done more for you. Never forget that knack you have for being adorable.

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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