The cat, the apartment, the open sewer and the mental no-go zone.

Where do I start?

I hardly know. I have a little mental strategy for dealing with uncomfortable, difficult things. That is, I don’t.

When things get difficult I live myopically. I don’t look far in front, or behind. I live in the here and now, and live in trust that everything around me will unfold and resolve itself. I do this because I don’t like trying take control of what is a very big, very messy, and very complicated world.

So all I know is, this is what I’m in the middle of.

1. The apartment (and the open sewer)

The apartment is our* precious toehold in the ridiculous overly inflated Sydney property market. We bought it at a much reduced price when interest rates were unpleasantly high. It was the ultimate “renovators delight”. We set upon a massive (and massively expensive) renovation, which was mostly completed two years ago.

Except for one glaring, unfulfilled detail. Check out the floor.

Lovely, huh? It was meant to be almost white. It’s clearly not. What it looks like is a concrete slab which was attacked by an acid throwing maniac and then survived a massive earthquake.

But obviously enough, it wasn’t. And it didn’t.

So, two years later, we’re back at square one, and tiling over the top of the tragic wreckage. The toilet is in the living room. The floor level is now so high the doors need to be cut down. We have no access to running water. Our dishwasher is blocking our fridge door, and the cupboard containing all our crockery.

We (quite literally) don’t have a pot to piss in.

What we do have is an apartment that smells like an open sewer. And going to the toilet involves leaving the apartment, unlocking the courtyard door, slipping past the garbage disposal area, climbing a three-runged marine ladder, and letting ourselves into the builder’s lav, which hasn’t been cleaned since 1961.

We should move out, but I’m like a deer in the headlights. All I want is my own bed. And my wardrobe with all my clothes in it. Why am I so traumatised? Queue section 2.

2. The cat (and the mental no-go zone)

The apartment, though I love it, has come at a very great cost. It meant sending off my beloved dog Lucie and beautiful cat Olivander to live with my mum. The apartment is on a busy road, on the ground floor, with no balconies. For security issues we need to keep the windows shut when we’re out, and for a big cat who has always had the run of suburban gardens it seemed a cruel fate to take Oli with us. He’s never been good with litter trays, and for that matter, neither have we, particularly in a tiny apartment with no ventilation.

With Lucie, it was a no-brainer. She’s a big ridgeback cross, who needs space and company. A fifty square metre apartment and owners working 50+ hour weeks was certainly no suitable life for a big dog.

So, Lucie and Oli went off to live with my mum nearly three years ago. Lucie has been spoilt rotten ever since, getting one hour walks (and swims!) twice a day, eating the choicest tidbits, and hanging out with three cats who she all adores.

Three cats? Yes, three. Oli went off to live with Alice and Lenin, two rescue cats, both of whom I’m also largely responsible for acquiring. I utterly adore animals. And there, right there, is my downfall.

It turns out that three cats is too many for one house. Oli and Lenin originally got along just fine, playing like kittens together. But then it all started to turn bad. They got jealous of each other, and stressed out, and territorial. And they started spraying everywhere. Constantly, and unrelentingly.

Oli also got fat. Hugely fat, while Lenin got skinny.

And eventually it all got too much to bear. My mum tried everything. Dieting, pheromones, discipline, kindness. Nothing worked.

The cats are hysterical. She’s hysterical.

The vet’s suggestion was to put down both troublesome cats, but it’s too much to bear.

And so, Oli has to go. And there’s nowhere for him to go to.

We can’t take him in. The apartment’s just too small, and Oli hates being locked in. And Oli’s morbidly obese, and coming up for 7 years old, and not very friendly, which means that it’s pretty much impossible to re-home him.

At this point, everyone says, “So send him to a cat shelter”. But really, that’s condemning him to death too. There aren’t even enough homes for the cute little kittens in shelters out there, without starting on overweight older cats with nasty spraying habits.

And this is where the mental no-go zone kicks in.

I know what we have to do. But I’m stuck.

And so, I’m standing very still, while the very big, very hard, very complicated world swirls around me. And now I can’t make decisions about anything, even where to sleep tonight.

* From now on, wherever I say “our”, I’m referring to things shared with my much beloved and extremely long-suffering boyfriend. The only reason I don’t mention him more is that he’s a real person, not a character. I always feel sorry for partners in blogs and columns. They become charactertures of themselves with no right of reply. It just doesn’t seem fair. So, where possible, I avoid collateral damage by mentioning my nearests and dearests as little as possible.


~ by Niccola on November 18, 2009.

One Response to “The cat, the apartment, the open sewer and the mental no-go zone.”

  1. Oh Niccola, I feel for you. Talk about a rock and a hard place. You must have more options than “that”. Call Dr.Harry, he will sort them out. I’m here if you need me – there’s room in the craft room for you and your secret other.
    Fran xx

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