My parents have replaced me with kittens. Again.

(This post originally appeared on my old Open Salon blog on May 14, 2009)

My dad’s new kitten prodigies.  Soon they’ll be doing advanced calculus.

My dad’s been driving me crazy lately.  Dad is retired and spends most of his time at home up in Canada.  He’s got books to read and he’s taken to feeding the neighborhood cats in his backyard while he tends his tiny little garden.  When dad hasn’t been making friends with all the cats in town, he’s upstairs on his computer.

I’ve threatened to come up there and personally disconnect his Internet access.  No, he’s not cruising porn sites.  These sites are much, much worse.

Conspiracy-ridden, right-wing nut job websites.

Every day I’d talk to him, he’d feel it was his duty to let me know the latest.  “You should start stockpiling some food, you know.  I hear Obama’s going to give Monsanto a contract to make all the food for the entire country.” he told me one day.  Ugh.  The next day it was something about the Census and taking GPS readings to determine where all the guns in the country were.

Give a retired man with too much time on his hands a computer with Internet access and he can make you insane.  I was soon dreading those phone calls.

So I was pretty happy to hear that one of his neighbors had given him two eight week old kittens from their cats’ latest litter.  Dad even got the ”joy” of hearing the conception of these kittens on a cold night in February in the backyard.

Come on, say it!  Say, “AWWWWWWW!”  You know you can’t resist!

Their names are Bonnie and Clyde.  Clyde is the all grey puff of smoky fur and Bonnie’s the mixed tabbyish kitty. The names are highly appropriate names given their behaviors.  Now when I call me dad to see how things are going, the conversations don’t include any more conspiracy theories or any more doom and gloom news.  Now it goes something like this:

“Hi dad.  How’s things?”
“Hi.  They pooped in the litter box today.”
“Oh, that’s great.  Did you get some sleep last night or did they keep you up?”
“They woke us up at 3 while they were running up and down the stairs.  Normally I’d be mad, but it was really cute.”
“They sound just like children.”
“HA!  Did you see that?  Clyde just tackled Bonnie.”
Yes dad, of course I can see that.  On the phone.
“So how’s the weather?”
“HAHAHAHAHAA!  Now they’re chasing each other down the hall!”
“Uh huh.  Alex drove the car yesterday.”
“Wow!  They’re really beating each other up!”
“I’m pregnant with twins.  They’ll be born tomorrow.”
“Awwwwww!  Now they’re licking each other!  That’s so cute!”
“Dad, the world just exploded.”
“Did you hear them meow?  Tell me you heard that!”

*sigh* Yes.  I’ve been replaced.  All that there is now is the cats.

If you look really carefully, you might be able to see that Clyde is polydactyl.

It’s not the first time.  Shortly after I left home, my parents adapted two cats from a friend and named them Thelma and Louise (you’ll detect a theme here with movie character pairs that go on crime sprees).  They were tiny kittens when they brought them home and didn’t know how to eat, drink or use the litter box.  My dad, the kitty midwife that he is, taught them how to do all of that.  It got to the point that they would crawl up into his lap and start suckling on his sweater.

Thelma and Louise were beautiful cats.  There was only one problem.  They hated me.  I would come for a visit and they would hiss and hide.  I had never had a cat do that to me before.  For Louise, just the scent of me was enough to make her mad.  But they had my dad’s heart and they kept my parents company after I left the country. Sometimes it was as if they knew it.  When I would leave to go to the airport to go home, I swear I could see Louise sticking her tongue out at me when I left.

Evil Thelma
I shall burn you with my evil laser kitty eyes! Thelma in her usual spot whenever I’d come to visit.

Thelma and Louise lived to a ripe old age until finally succumbing to it.  There were months where my dad swore off of having cats again.  He was so hurt and so upset by their passing, less than a year apart from each other, that he wasn’t sure he could handle having, and eventually losing at some time in the future, another beloved pet.

You can get me that cat food anytime now

Louise would put up with me.  Especially if I was in the kitchen.  But if I pet her and she went back to Thelma, she’d get hissed at for letting me touch her.

Until now.  These little buggers have stolen his heart.  He’s happy and laughing and loves watching their antics.  He’s much happier than he was when he was looking for the latest “news” online.

It was as if what he found on the computer would make his life so dull.  Now Bonnie and Clyde have made it so much brighter.