Funemployment How to be the Best Unemployed Cat Owner Your Cats Will Ever Meet Kaitlin Coghill

YES, I HAVE TWO CATS, BUT IT’S NOT BECAUSE I’M CRAZY:

Three years ago, my sister won $16,000 and a trip to Cabo on Wheel of Fortune. Sadly, she decided to take my mom to Mexico that summer instead of me, so I sat at home for a week fuming about my lack of a tan and lack of room service. To make myself feel better, I devised a “get back at mom” plan and started searching for free kittens on Craigslist. In my mind, the joy of having a cat of my own would last longer than the joy of being drunk for a week at a beachfront hotel. So when my mom and sister got back from their vacation, I convinced my mom to accompany me on my kitten-adopting adventure. Much to our surprise, the kittens were so irresistible that we came home with two. My mom named hers (on the left) Olivia, and I named mine (on the right) Clementine.

Once September came around, I had to make the three-hour drive back to San Diego for my junior year of college, and I also had to make the hard decision to separate Olivia and Clementine. The reason I adopted Clem in the first place was to bring her to school with me and I knew that it was the best decision for everyone involved. After all, my mom also had two dogs and another cat.

Once I got to San Diego, my roommates fell in love with Clementine so quickly that they immediately wanted to get a second kitten. We eagerly browsed Craigslist and eventually adopted a kitten that we named LiLi (pronounced Lee-Lee). But the name didn’t stick. There was something different about this kitten. She was a little bit strange, a little bit dumb and a little bit too cute to handle – no one name fit her. Since we couldn’t come to an agreement on what to call this itsy-bitsy baby kitty, she came to be known as, well, Baby Kitty.

A few months later, the cost of living in a beautiful beach house in San Diego was taking a toll on my family and I. So I made a huge life leap and moved in with my boyfriend of three months, Ryan, to save money. The original plan was for both Clementine and me to move in with him and his roommate, Jared, but the small apartment wasn’t ideal for Clem’s activity level, which in turn was not ideal for my and Ryan’s relationship. So back she went to my mom’s house, leaving me in tears. Sadly, Baby Kitty wasn’t far behind. The girls that took my place at the beach house were allergic to cats, and my old roommate couldn’t bear to keep Baby Kitty locked up in her bedroom. Instead of letting her be adopted by a random person who didn’t understand how unique, weird and sensitive she was, my mom took Baby Kitty in too. Having four indoor cats would drive anybody crazy; that’s why my mom let them have play-dates in a cage outside:

She also let them party:

But, best of all, the sister kitties were reunited:

Nevertheless, Clementine was my baby, and I was responsible for her well-being, as well as Baby Kitty’s. So, after Ryan, Jared and I moved into a larger place, Clementine and Baby Kitty moved back to San Diego. We’ve been a happy family ever since, despite the fact that I’m the only one who pays for their food, litter, etc. How does she support two cats by herself without having a full-time job, you ask? Consider me an expert, and read my words of wisdom below.

 

RENTAL BASICS:

1. Rent a place where you don’t have to pay the water bill.
Forget everything you’ve ever been told about cats: they are absolutely nuts about water. Clementine hops into the sink constantly, and licks the faucet until I turn it on. She prefers to let the water run down the side of her face and lick it off of her cheek, which is why I usually leave the water running for two to three minutes (it’s a slow process). Baby Kitty, not to be one-upped, loves to play in the bathtub after I take a shower. She has a thing for water droplets.

2. Rent a place that has at least one window.
This may sound like a weird piece of advice, but I know people who have places with no windows, and their cats are permanently pissed off. Windows provide free, endless entertainment for the cats, especially if they’re indoor cats. Most rentals don’t allow you to have outdoor cats in the first place, so windows truly are a lifesaver in these types of situations. Not to mention, when the cats are entertaining themselves by looking out the window at the trees and birds and neighbors passing by, you have much more time to search for jobs on the Internet while you eat cookie dough in your pajamas at 3 p.m. Clementine even got a boyfriend because of our window. He ripped off the screen to get into our house and hang out with her, and my roommate found him sitting on the couch when he got home. That’s how cute my cats are, I suppose.

3. Rent a place without carpet.
I currently live in a place with carpet, and it sucks. The cats scratch the carpeted corners of the stairs as though they were special scratching posts at various levels. It’s absolutely horrible. While there’s not much I can do for my situation except try to hide the areas that are now painfully carpet-free, save yourselves and get a place with no carpet anywhere whatsoever. You can also save money on a vacuum, as in you won’t need one. We’ve already gone through two, maybe because we bought them at yard sales, but most likely because of the insane amount of cat hair left behind by those two fluffballs.

4. Rent a place with an area to hide the litter box.
Litter boxes are the absolute worst, grossest part of having cats. Besides the smell, cats get litter everywhere when they jump out of their private loos, and when people see that or step on it with bare feet, it’s simply embarrassing. The easy solution is to have a random closet with a window that you can hide the box in, but that’s most likely impossible to find at a broke girl’s price point. If you’re like me and you don’t have a special cat bathroom in your place, get a covered litter box and place it in a room with ventilation. It’s not ideal, but it works, and it’s less expensive than a fancy self-cleaning litter box. A girl can dream, though. A girl can dream.

CAT SUPPLIES:

1. Flea Medicine
Flea meds are a ridiculously important cat supply that are also ridiculously expensive. Not only do they prevent your cats from hating their itchy little lives, it prevents you from having to spend extra money on flea bombing your home. You’ll also have a much better chance of getting the majority of your pet deposit back, and all of us unemployed girls know just how important those types of deposits are. I’ve recently learned that there is a more frugal alternative to Frontline. At about one-third of the price, Pet Armor (sold at Target) is going to be my new go-to flea medicine – after I finish the $80-worth of Frontline I bought last month, of course.

2. Cat Food
Please, for the sake of your cats’ bellies, invest in healthy cat food. There was a point in my post-grad life where I thought it would be okay to just buy whatever cat food was on sale every time my kitties ran out of nom-noms. But then we all learned the hard way that this was a stupid, stupid idea. Cats have sensitive tummies, which can result in piles of vomited food and hairballs all over your house. This in turn results in carpet stains and food that gets eaten up much faster (the more they throw up, the emptier their stomachs get). So save your cats lives and make an investment in their best interest. My mom did a lot of research on this last spring, and now we feed our cats Science Diet hairball control cat food. Sometimes it comes with a coupon in the bag, but if not I always have a coupon sent to me in the mail because I have a Petco (where the pets go) Pals Card. You can also have the food delivered to your house on a repeat schedule. (Who knew?!) I seriously love Petco.

3. Cat Litter 
Buy value boxes of Fresh Step cat litter. Though it’s not the cheapest brand, it’s the best brand because it truly gets rid of odors, and it clumps like a dream. I tried Tidy Cats for a while because it always had the lowest price, but it hardly covered up any odors and didn’t clump at all. I replaced it twice as much as the more expensive litter, and definitely learned my lesson. Clementine, Baby Kitty and I are Fresh Step girls for life. Also worth knowing, litter mats are a total waste of money. Pieces of litter get stuck in them and they trap odors instantly, and you end up sweeping the excess litter that gets around the mat anyway, so save yourself $20 and sweep every morning.

4. Cat Toys
Don’t spend money on cat toys! Ever! My cats’ favorite things to play with are water, plastic bags, highlighters and crumpled pieces of paper. Baby Kitty also loves shoes, while Clementine enjoys cuddling in my lap. Cats are very easily entertained, don’t succumb to the extreme cuteness of pet toys. I will, however, admit that scratching posts are a necessity. While you could find them at thrift stores or yard sales, used scratching posts sketch me out, so I sucked it up and spent $25 on what appears to be a stick covered in rope and my cats are obsessed with it. I trained them to run to it when they get excited by running to it myself and pretending to scratch it. Now, nearly every time I get home, we all run to it and scratch our little hearts out depending on whether or not they just woke up from a cat nap… Is that weird?

Parting Words: The Art of Living, and Keeping Alive
Despite what we’ve all been raised to believe, cats are social little creatures. They love having other bodies to snuggle with, and that’s why it’s important to let them have a friend, preferably another cat but your human self will work just as well. Keeping them social and happy is an important part of keeping your cat healthy. The happier they are the more active they are and the better sleep they get. No sick pet means no expensive vet, and that’s an extremely important aspect of being a fabulous, albeit broke, pet owner. So play with your cats, snuggle with your cats and talk to your cats (seriously, they’ll talk back and they have super cute voices), it will brighten up your life as much as it brightens up theirs.

For Those Who Care: Kitty Profiles

Clementine is a two-and-a-half-year-old Egyptian Mau-ish domestic short hair cat. She enjoys taking baths, talking to birds, climbing clothes to get onto closet shelves, opening and closing cupboard doors to get attention, rolling all over the dinner table to piss my boyfriend off, taking naps in sinks and taking naps with me. She also has a stomach pooch that my roommate thinks needs a little skateboard-type contraption to rest on when she walks. He’s just full of fabulous ideas.

Baby Kitty is the weirdest cat you’ll ever meet. She’s a two-year-old domestic short hair cat that appears to be part wildcat, part alien and part human baby. She loves to be held and loves hugging you back when you’re holding her. She also enjoys taking baths, watching you take a shower, laying on her back like a baby otter, purring uncontrollably, chirping when she gets tickled, running outside to roll in the dirt, licking Clementine and eating plastic bags. One of her favorite places to hang out is on top of the fridge, which is kind of weird but mostly cool.

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  1. quite possibly the CUTEST post on hellogiggles EVER

  2. I have two kitties also! Well, now they’re six so they’re not quite kittens anymore but they’re still my babies. I feed them Purina One Chicken & Rice, which isn’t the best but has a high amount of protein compared to other brands in that price range. And I agree with the person who mentioned cardboard boxes! Cardboard boxes are the best. Also, a three dollar laser pointer is worth the splurge.

  3. I also LOVE Wellness! I actually use Wellness Core dry food and canned food and Nature’s Variety Instinct canned food and frozen raw food. They are all grain-free and high in protein. Maybe not the best low-cost options, but diet is key in preventing costly health problems, so it’s worth the extra couple of dollars. The vets are always impressed with our cat’s health and shiny coat. I’ve read that many vets push Science Diet because they get great kickbacks from it. The ingredients are really not the best.
    And for litter, I recommend Dr. Elsey’s. It clumps well, conceals smell, and doesn’t track. I really liked World’s Best litter because it was 100% corn, but it tracked a little too much and and didn’t cover the smell as well. I liked Fresh Step also, but it’s not as healthy for kitties as Dr. Elsey’s or World’s Best.

  4. I have two adorable kitties as well that I usually refer to as my fur babies :) I just have to say although vet recommended (they are paid for that) science diet is actually not good for kitties or any animals really. Our one baby has kidney strones and dr recommended science diet and really that only made it worse. It has ash and grains and lots of other things that make it difficult for kitty to digest. We switched to an organic brand called wellness and they have never been healthier. The vet couldn’t believe our one kitty is almost 12 :) just my 2 cents every kitty is different of course :)

    • they really are all different. i tried organic brands, but no matter what i give them the only food they love to eat (and won’t throw up) is science diet. i haven’t tried wellness before, though, so maybe i will when this batch of food runs out :). thanks for the tip!

      Kaitlin Perry | 11/13/2011 02:11 pm
  5. Please please please don’t use Pet Armor. My friend’s mother used it on their cat a few months ago and it poisoned the poor kitty and he had seizures and almost died. and he wasn’t the first.

    • thank you so much for this info. i’ve always been wary of the cheaper brands but was told this one was the real deal. maybe certain pets are more sensitive depending on size, but i’d rather not take the risk. my babies are small!

      Kaitlin Perry | 11/13/2011 01:11 am
  6. I loved ulyour post. We don’t owe a cat but I remember when I was younger we did have a sianese cat who my best friends familu asked to care for when they went up north for the summer. When they got back I gueas theyvfelt bad bout asking for her so we got to keep her l,she was an awesome cat she’s hang with our pitbull and walk us to the bus stop in the mornings..and shed chase the dogs down herself lol she was hilarious. Sadly she grew old and when she had kittens passed away…guess the whole family never recovere and we’ve never gotten another one.

  7. As a suggestion see if your local vet has a blood donation program. You can take your cats in to help other cats, and they clean their ears, paws and give them flea treatment. My vet even gives a $35 credit every time they donate. It helps them keep up to date on their shots and it’s like a kitty spa day!

  8. this is my life.

    i’ve found the easiest and cheapest way to get the best but still cheap flea medicine is on ebay! it’s seriously 50 dollars cheaper and the same thing!

  9. Great story! I think my cat Boo (full name Boudica Paul Rudd) could give Baby Kitty a run for her money in the weirdness department. She’s approx. 8 lbs., and though I got her from a shelter, I’m pretty sure she’s a mini-Manx, what with the no tail and longer rear legs. Boo knocks over anything that’s vertical, ie glasses, bottles, etc., so things must be observed to prevent spills. She also insists on drinking from the faucet, and has an elaborate ritual in which she sticks her head under, lets the water drip down her face, flicks her head to get the water going in the right direction, and licks it off. There’s an alternate version in which she sticks her front leg under and licks the water off, that was the original…she also has to touch EVERYTHING when she wants attention, and usually knocks onto the floor whatever she is touching, leaving messes everywhere. She loves paper bags to hide in. She likes plastic bags too, but I keep them away from her so she won’t eat small pieces. She’s allowed supervised playtime with those. I’m pretty sure she’s autistic and ADHD and OCD, if cats can have any of those…I use Swheat Scoop litter with her. It’s 100% natural, clumps well, and absorbs odor with no perfumes. Those other brands are great, but if your cat licks its paws, it could be ingesting not just clay, but other harmful chemicals and perfumes, and those clumping litters can clump in kitty’s intestinal tract, which can require expensive surgery. Swheat Scoop is wheat, so if it’s ingested, can be passed with no worries. Just something to consider.

  10. Awesome! BUT I have one complaint – cats should NOT EAT PLASTIC BAGS!! It’s a suffocation hazzard & can really mess up their little insides! How can someone who’s so into the care & well being of their kitties allow this kind of behavior?! I don’t get the logic there…

    • Whoops! I suppose my sentence could imply that I allow her to do that, but I definitely don’t. I keep them in a drawer so she can’t get them. The only time she does get to them is if I just go shopping and the bags, full of new things I just bought, are on the counter. So no worries! I do everything I can to keep her insides safe :).

      Kaitlin Perry | 11/12/2011 04:11 pm
  11. fantastic article! my family just adopted two adorable kittens, Max and LeeLoo. i am still in the process of discovering their unique personalities, but i know they’re the sweetest. cats are the best

  12. also, i always leave a cardboard box around for my kitties. it’s amazing how much joy they get from just sitting in it. crazies.

  13. This was great! As a fellow cat lover (and owner of two lovely kitties), this was very informing. Pet Armor sounds great (it has the same chemicals as Frontline!) but most of the cheap flea control products are extremely dangerous to use. I have a friend who was a vet tech and says that Science Diet is actually overhyped and not all that great. She said that Iams is just as good. I use Iams Indoor Hairball and Weight Control (one of my cats is a wee bit overweight at 15 lbs). And as for the carpet scratching… ugh. It’s so annoying. BUT, there are products out there that you can spray on areas they scratch and are deterrents. They work pretty well. And, yes, scratching posts are such a necessity. Covering them in cat nip spray works very well;)

    Your cats are adorbs:)

  14. I understand that you love Fresh Step. But hear me out. Arm and Hammer Double Duty. I have two cats, too, so I thought Arm and Hammer Multiple Cat would be for me. No! It’s a trap! No good! Double Duty is the perfect litter. It covers up odors so well I forget to change the litter. And Target always has it in those value sizes! And sometimes they have it if you buy two things of it you get a $5 gift card! Trust me on this one. I’ve had cats my entire life- it’s always been Arm and Hammer. I LOVE CATS.

  15. Oh my goodness! I laughed so much when I read this! I have had cats my whole life and some of things you are describing I could apply to different ones I have “owned” (they really own you don’t they?). I think I might have had cats in the past that could rival baby kitty’s weirdness however! Cat’s are really such a joy to have in your life! Loved this blog and your renter’s advice was spot on!

  16. I’m with Katie. Don’t teach them to fetch!! I have two kitties as well. One a huge boy tabby cat named Jackson and the other is a tiny little 6 pound Abyssinian named Nala (I’m pretty sure she was the runt of her litter. But can hold her own! She can knock over 15 pound Jackson like it’s nothing. She rules our house and knows it) Anyway, my point about fetching. Nala has come to LOVE these little foam-y type material balls we got for her. Her most favorite activity in the whole world (next to watching squirrels and birds out the back door) is having someone throw those balls down the stairs so she can fling herself down them to bring it back and do all over again. Her love of chasing and fetching has gotten so bad that we have to put those silly balls away at night or else she’ll find them, bring them to you, and start yowling until you play with her. Anyway, I love my babies and I loved reading the profiles on your babies! They’re precious! =)

  17. Baby kitty seems like the perfect girlfriend for my little weirdo Timmy. I just woke my boyfriend up literally laughing out loud when I read your description of Baby Kitty-part wildcat, part alien and part human baby.Here’s a pic of him in his hammock http://www.tinyurl.com/86asnf6 …because obviously the freakin’ cat has his own hammock. Also I did not buy said hammock, that would be a crazy person thing to do, however I clearly seem crazy-cat-lady enough for someone else to think that I in fact needed a cat hammock.

  18. Can we be best friends? I am in serious need of someone who understands how much I care about my kitty in my life.

    I used to have a Clementine too, but my grandparents loved her so much and she seemed to enjoy their house a lot more, so we gave her to them. She transformed into a whole new kitty when she moved houses, and is much happier, but I miss her nonetheless.

    Words to the wise: Don’t teach your cat how to fetch. My husband and I got really excited when Ernie started acting like a dog, but now he constantly wants his toy mouse thrown every minute he is awake. Also, we really love the PETCO litter you can buy in the huge tubs. It clumps and has amazing odor control.

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