Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to put your foot down, you just can't resist a cute little face.
For quite a while, I've remained very stubborn about adding a new pet to my home. My husband, Justin, made several unsuccessful attempts to convince me that I wanted to raise multiple puppies or adopt a "smooshy-faced" kitty. I remained indignant. No more pets. We had a nice harmony in the house between our dog, Nya, and our cat, Ziggy, and I was in no hurry to upset that balance.
Everything changed a month or so ago when the tenant living in the room above my in-laws' house left her apartment and, unfortunately, also left behind a cat. Justin came home one day after stopping by his parents' house and told me about the white cat crying upstairs. "She seems really friendly," he told me. "She practically jumped out of the window when she saw me coming."
What made matters even worse was when my in-laws discovered the cat was pregnant. They did the best they could to care for her, but having several pets of their own, they reached the point where they had to make a tough decision.
Animal shelters are over-run with cats, and we were faced with the fact that the chances of this cat and her unborn kittens making it were very slim. Justin and I talked, but we knew we just didn't have room for an additional cat and her litter. What if she ended up having six kittens? While kittens are adorable and most people love to "ooh and aah" over them, not many step up to the plate and take ownership. Our house is quite small. We had room for one more cat, but not a half dozen.
"Well," Justin lamented, "Maybe in few weeks we can go to one of the shelters and adopt a kitten."
I nodded but felt sad for the other kitty.
Miraculously, my mother-in-law found someone who wanted the cat. I was skeptical at first, but when I learned the woman stopped by the house to pick the cat up the next day, I was completely relieved. Thank goodness that cat - and her soon to be born kittens - was given the chance it deserved.
So with this incident softening me up quite a bit, perhaps was happened next was inevitable.
"What time are you done with work?" Justin texted me innocently one morning.
After I answered him, I wanted to know why he asked. He then asked sheepishly (if you could glean a sheepish tone through texting) if I wanted to go with him to the animal shelter.
I caved, thinking about that poor pregnant kitty. "OK."
That afternoon, Justin called, as he usually does. "Hey babe," he greeted me. I could tell he was calling from his car. He was heading to the pet store and wanted to know if we needed cat litter.
We did, so I was glad he called, even though I found it slightly odd that he seemed attentive to the fact that we needed litter.
He started saying something else, but his words were interrupted by an unexpected "Mew!" in the background.
He stopped talking. I paused.
"Did I just hear a cat?" I wondered aloud, breaking the silence.
"What? No," he replied, stumbling over his words a little. "No cat. I'm on my way to the pet store."
Unless his car knew he was driving it to the pet store and began to purr in approval - which did not seem likely - then there was something else going on.
"Uh huh," I said, not hiding the fact that I knew he was lying through his teeth. "What are you up to?"
"Me?" he answered. "Now why would I be up to something? No, really, I'm on my way to the pet store and wanted to see what all we needed," he tried to explain. In the middle of his statement, I heard another very audible, "Mew!"
I decided to let Justin off the hook for now. In my mind, I envisioned him staring across the seat at a kitten, waving his finger at it frantically as if to say, "Sshhhhh!! You're blowing it!"
The rest of the afternoon, I fidgeted, wondering what my husband had cooked up in my absence. I had an appointment after work and couldn't go straight home, which just heightened my anxiety.
When I pulled into my driveway, Justin greeted me at the door. Playing it sly, he was all, "Hi babe, how are you?"
As soon as I stepped inside the door, I immediately found the voice behind the mysterious "mewing" in Justin's car. Sitting on the couch, looking like a tiny sphinx, was the cutest orange and white kitten I'd ever seen. His little brown eyes stared at me with curiosity and his big ears flicked around, astutely aware of everything going on his new little world.
"I wanted to surprise you when you got home," Justin informed me.
"He blew it," I laughed.
And so joining the "Dunderberger" clan is our newest kitten, Rohan, who we adopted from the Ohio County Animal Shelter. He is quite the affectionate little guy. Nya was curious and wanted to play with her new little brother, but Rohan was a little uncertain of such a large beast. On the other hand, Rohan was extremely interested in playing with older brother Ziggy, but Ziggy decided hiding out in our bedroom was a better idea. So far, Ziggy has been growling and hissing, but Rohan is not intimidated. He's now following Ziggy around, trying desperately to get him to play.
Seems like Rohan tipped the balance of our harmonious pet relationships. But that's OK. When the point of disruption has such a cute little face with tiny whiskers and fluffy hair, sometimes you just have to give in.
Hershberger can be reached at sdunder@ timesleaderonline.com