Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And Then He is a She

John's in heat.

I guess it's not so easy to tell a boy kitten from a girl kitten.

When Zack first found the cat, or the cat first found Zack, to be a little more precise, we took its scrawny little butt straight into Everett's empty room, to keep it isolated from Max and Minnie. "Do we know what it is? You look," I instructed my sister Kris, who happened to be there that evening. She took a quick look under the tail, not wanting to traumatize the poor thing more than it already was. "Looks like a boy to me," she said with a degree of certainty.

So whether or not, when I took John to the vet a couple of days later, the vet even actually looked herself to determine the gender, I don't remember. She might have just assumed we knew. She looked in his ears and eyes and squeezed John all up and down--she checked out everywhere.

Except maybe...you know...down there.

Well, now that we had finally more or less agreed on the name John -- I stuck with it even through suggestions of J.D. (for John Doe) and Figgins (Kris stubbornly insisted on referring to the cat as "Figgins," since that was the last name of one of the ball players we were watching in the World Series that night. Sorry Sis, you don't get a vote from all the way in Brooklyn) -- John started acting sort of....strange. Sort of....un-John-like.

He started acting....more Jane-like.

No one's ever accused me of being the quickest one on the block in these matters. "John and Max are starting to act weird," I said to Peter one evening, "Like they have some alpha male domineering-thing going on. I think it's time to get John fixed." Peter was involved in his interminable online search for a used car and responded with a grunt. I shrugged and went to bed. The next morning I broached the subject again, "You know, Peter, they're at it again in there, Max is on top of John and biting the back of his neck and and being really aggressive and John is, like, just kind of laying there and taking it. He even looks like he's enjoying it a little."

Peter gave me one of those looks that Archie used to reserve for Edith right before he'd call her the "D" word.

"What?" I asked.

"You know what it is," he said.

"I do?" I asked.

"Sure you do."

"What? Tell me."

"John is a girl."


"Of course!"

"Ya think??"

I went back out into the living room. There was Max, on top of John. John was yowling, and rubbing himself -- herself? -- along the floor, with his -- I mean her -- behind stuck up in the air. Then Max tried to straddle her and...

"Hey. Hey!! Knock it off!"

What a hussy.

Max and Minnie joined the family a couple of years ago at the same time, and they were already neutered when they did. We had never had shenanigans like this in the house before. It was weird seeing Max act this way, and I think it's been weird for Max, too. It's like he's doing something from sense memory, like on MASH, when a soldier would wake up and Hawkeye would tell him they had to amputate his leg, and the kid would say "What do you mean? It's still there. I feel it."

They're trying really hard, when I'm not there to yell at them to stop, which means they're going at it the better part of the morning and into the afternoon every day. Until John, or Jane, or perhaps Jade -- new discussions are open, after all, and we haven't even told my sister yet -- is out of heat, and we can get her fixed. Or spayed, to be a little more precise.

Minnie, on the other hand, just watches from the back of the living room easy chair, or goes into the back bedroom to get a little shut eye.

She can't be bothered with that nonsense.

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