I often joke that my daughter suffers from “Second Child Syndrome.” The symptoms of SCS include a dramatic drop in photos taken and printed, the total lack of baby book and a tendency to forget bathtime. Poor, stinky Sophie.
Of course there are some benefits to being the second child, and a girl. In addition to the adoration she enjoys from her parents, Sophie is the “apple” of her big brother’s eye. She is already Papa’s little princess and promises to wrap her daddy around her little finger. And don’t be fooled – I still take a ton of photos.
The real victim of SCS in our family is not even human. Her name is Claudia and she’s our cat.
We adopted Claudia seven years ago from the Milford Humane Society. We had just gotten married and decided, now that we had committed to each other before our friends and family, that we could commit ourselves to caring for another living being. Beyond our plants.
The Humane Society was in a run down building full of cats. Cats running loose, lounging on cat scratch trees, and cooped up in cages. I remember feeling instantly overwhelmed. How were we going to find the kitty for us?
It didn’t take long for Claudia to find us. We were looking at a cat in a neighboring cage when Claudia reached out her paw to pat Steve on the shoulder. As if to say “Hey, here I am!” A petite, pastel calico with a sharp face and big ears, Claudia was immediately affectionate. It was love at first sight.
From our first apartment in Mliford to our first home in Upton, Claudia was the center of attention. Unlike many other cats, she didn’t run when strangers came into the house. Instead she was always welcoming and always looking for a lap to sit on. Claudia’s not proud – if you’ll pat her she’ll purr.
Then Anders arrived and Claudia’s life began to change. First it was a reduced level of attention. Hands that used to pet her were now occupied. Then Anders began to move around on his own and you can imagine how fascinating he found her. Anders liked her tail in particular. We started to see less of Claudia as she took to hiding in the guest room or sleeping under our bed.
Now Sophie has arrived and life hasn’t gotten much better for Claudia. Both laps are occupied and Steve and I are too tired to pet anyone else. Yes, that sounded the way I meant it.
I realized the full scope of the neglet this weekend. On Monday night, around midnight, Steve sat straight up in bed and said “where is the cat?” Half-asleep, I responded “huh? what? cat?”
After a few minutes of calling her, we realized Claudia was no longer in the house (she’s an indoor kitty). She had probably gotten out when Steve was moving furniture through the bulkhead door. But that was Sunday afternoon and this was Monday night. Halloween night! She had been gone for over 24 hours and we didn’t even notice!
I was having visions that Claudia had either been eaten by a coyote or strung up by a bored trick or treater. Sleep did not come easily the rest of the night.
In the morning I went out to find Claudia. After clinking the food bowl for a couple of minutes, Claudia appeared from behind our trash bin. She looked tired, cold and PISSED. She yelled at me for 30 minutes! Ah well. Guess I deserved it. Poor kitty.