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THE STORY ABOUT OUR CATS AND ME

Now you'll get a chance to read the story behind the cats, about what happened, and why I had to give up my cats--although agreeably, we had far, far too many, and it WAS ridiculous. 

PART I:
 
 
As if having gone through most of my life, a sufferer of panic disorder with agoraphobia, weren't enough, I had to live a good many years contending with an over-population of cats, that my mother created--I have to admit, I was a lot more, shall we say, tunnel-visioned, and wrapped up in my own problems of surviving my phobia problem, to really realize and recognize that my mother was suffering from problems herself, but then, she can be a great actress.
 
I've lived in my building with my grandmother (now deceased) and mother since 1961.  With the exception of the first year there, we were always a multi-cat dwelling--but always at a reasonable number of cats. That is up until 1992 when our troubles began. In all the years that we have had cats,  my mother always seemed to take it upon herself in taking responsibility for getting our cats fixed.  That was until 1992, when we had nine cats, including an unfixed female.  My
mother said we didn't need bother to get her fixed as we wouldn't be getting anymore cats.   Uh, huh--I think you can write the rest of the script yourself.
 
Well, one day our doorbell rings---I was busy printing photos, as I am a freelance photographer--my mother answered the door, then she called me out to get my opinion on the matter.   Well there at the door was one of our neighbors who had found a friendly cat roaming the streets.  He asked if we could take it in.   I can't tell you how many times I said no, we couldn't.  Over and over again I said this. Well, my mother is the type that doesn't want to hurt people's feelings,  and the two of them are staring down at me, saying, "Oh, it's only one more cat," making me feel guilty as hell, and so I give in, and in comes the cat, who we would call Keiko.

Well I think you all can guess.   Yep, this male cat wasn't fixed either.  So here we have an unfixed male and female cat, uh, like, duh?  Now why my mother didn't at least get one of them fixed is anyone's guess--I couldn't as I've been a sufferer of agoraphobia since 1978---that is having anxiety/panic attacks---at one point in my life I was completely housebound.. I had seen a therapist who had helped me tremendously---I had to stop seeing him due to my mother's financial problems---now while I didn't become housebound again, I became limited to where I could go--So here was our vet, and even though he was  only a few subway stops away, I couldn't go to get one of the cats fixed.  There was absolutely nothing to prevent my mother from taking them, however, and I was on her case to get one of them fixed but she didn't. As you can imagine, we had kittens, and if it had stopped at that one litter it wouldn't have been a problem--but it didn't---litters kept on being born. 

Now even though I had my agoraphobia problem, I was still very much being a successfully published, freelance photographer, and was developing my black and white film and prints, and doing indoor studio shots at home---all that changed by around 1996--I had to stop developing my film and prints as I couldn't risk having the chemicals about with so many cats roaming around; then I had to stop doing my studio shots.   It often took me up to three hours to do a "set-up" and only minutes for the cats to wreck everything.  Finally, I even had to stop sending out my
portfolios of work as I didn't have time any longer to work on them.  It was now  becoming a full-time job, trying to keep the house clean and odor free as possible.
And what, prey tell, was was my mother doing all this time?? The person who was the cause of this?? Absolutely nothing--she did nothing to help out with even the easiest and simplest of cleaning chores---she was leaving it all up to me.  Besides putting a hold on my blossoming, successful photography career and work, now my hopes for even trying to get over my phobic problems were dashed--I was tied to the apt. cleaning all
the time to make sure the apt. was as odor free as possible.

Then back in 2001, we got a notice of eviction, and gee, was it any wonder??  Despite my efforts in cleaning our apt.  every single day, 365 days of the year, practically morning, noon and night, the apartment reeked to high heaven--our neighbors were complaining of the foul odors from our apt.---Also, there was the sheer size and number of cats, for by then our cat population had escalated to one-hundred--yes, you're reading right--
100 ---!!!!

We were lucky in that we got a good lawyer--through her and the efforts of a Celeste Harrington, who had ties with the media we had news coverage of our "story".  People came to our apt. to adopt our cats and so many were placed into good new homes--but unfortunately not enough. In the meantime, our lawyer became completely exasperated and dumped us, no longer  wanting to represent us---She had expected that the two of us, my mother and myself to do a round the clock, virtual 24-hour a day cleaning thing to fumigate our apt. out.  Yet, my mother continued to do nothing.

It was up to me, to not only clean every waking moment of the day and night back then in 2001,  but at the advice of our lawyer, to get rid of just about everything and anything that might be retaining pet odor--So, here  I was getting rid of books, videos, furniture, etc--plus painting up the apt. from top to bottom, plus putting up and dealing with people coming into our apt. as early as 8:00 in the morning, to as late as 12 midnight, to view our cats to perhaps take in and adopt as their own.

Getting rid of the furniture was no great hardship, save for my
filing cabinets--for some reason these were the favorite target
spots for the cats to have accidents on--yes, I did clean them out periodically, but to no avail--so not only did I have to get rid of the filing cabinets,  but the contents within them.  These were the hundreds and hundreds of black and white photos I had printed up over the years since 1976--plus, all the magazines, newspapers, calendars---all my prized published work.
 


Well, about two years ago, year marked the first time that I've been trying to get my life back on track again, in every possible way--I've been listening to Lucinda Bassett's "famous" 15 tape "Attacking Anxiety" program to overcome my phobia problem, and have had some successes--Also, I've been sending my portfolios of work again. Yet, here I'm bucking up against a lot, as many of the same companies that used to publish my work all the time, no longer view slide work--I'm virtually starting my photo career from zilch---I've been applying for grants to hopefully secure the funds so I can get the kind of computer system I need, plus film scanners to scan and digitize my work.  You see, I don't even own the most basic of computer systems yet.  Once I do get a system,  and the film scanners to digitize my overwhelming collection of work, I then want to set up my own professional website to sell/lease my work on-line. As of yet, I haven't gone back to printing my photos as of yet--for it has only been recently, that I don't have to worry about so many cats about and around.  
 
From 2001 up until March 2nd, 2006, I had lived in fear of our being found out that we still had quite a number of cats--for even though many were adopted out in 2001 when we were first being threatened with eviction, it was far too many, for my mother had signed a stipulation agreement on June 1, 2001, in which we could only have two cats--supposedly, in a phone conversation with a member of the landlord's office, a Bess Frangopoulos, on October 27, 2002, the number had been upgraded to four cats---As you can guess though, we had a "bit" more than that. 
 
Now in good faith, all along I had been trying to get the remaining cats adopted out--but the statistics of pet shelters and for rescuers is quite depressing and gruesome--For every pet to be adopted that is in a pet shelter, each and every person in this country would have to adopt at least nine pets--and the statistics for Animal, Care and Control is even more gruesome to say the least.  When I became computer savvy, about two years ago, then I had access to scores of pet shelters and rescuers in a click of the mouse--but the news still wasn't encouraging--I was in contact on a monthly basis--and no takers--it had been my hope that if each place even only took one cat each, our problems would have been solved.
 
Then, on Thursday, March 2, 2006, my fears of being found out that we did indeed have a lot of cats still,  were realized as my mother and I got a Ten (10)  Day Notice To Cure--once again we were being threatened with eviction---And once again, my dear "sweet", mother, the person who got us into this mess to begin with, would prove not to do anything again--oh, yes, in a sense she now has a "legitamite" excuse, for you see, my mother has been in and out of the hospital since June 7th, of 2005, with a variety of medical aliments and maladies, including having been diagnosed with esophagile cancer.  But her "main" aliment all along, has been her depressive behaviour--she has never exactly been a highly motivated person, and needs a stick of dynamite shoved up her asshole, and even then won't do anything--I now recognize the fact, that my mother has always been the type to palm off responsibility off others--and since she knows I'm classic Type-A personality, and highly organized and responsible she even palmed off the handling of everything related to our eviction issue again--I mean did she think we were  going to get a lawyer to appear magically out of thin air and in the middle of our living room?
 
Well, when March 2nd 2006 rolled round, then once again I really beefed up my efforts to get the cats adopted out--but I had very few takers---some places I was in contact with even had requested that I remove their name off my contact list--oops--I guess I was being a pest, and pest I was as I was really going all out for it--Animal Care and Control was the last resort I wanted to rely on---but time was't on our side--After doing a lot, and I mean a lot of phone calls--and I had never made so many phone calls in my life as I had done doing those few months of March, April, and May of 2006--we did get a superb lawyer, via the Legal Services for The Elderly--so technically speaking my mother is represented--but not me, I have to represent myself.   The lawyer was real ansty-pasty about our getting our cat population down to only two before our first "major court date --we had one on May 8th, in which I presented the letter of adornment the Services had Fed-Ex-ed over, then an appearance at court May 25th.  It was before that court date, that our lawyer wanted the cat population down like pronto, yet after the Porthos incident, there was no way in hell that I wanted any more cats wind up at AC&C--I was SO lucky that the same pet rescuer, Amy, who came down from near Albany, up-state NY, on May 1st, agreed to take the last remaining eight cats I had at the time.
 
 
Well, I shall continue this at a later date, as this story is by no means over.......
July 6, 2006
Melanie

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