My cat, Mojo, is insane, but this isn't really news to anyone who has met, been bit or scratched by him over the years. He was insane when I was introduced to him, standing in the rain, outside my apartment, in 2001. He had, after all, just come home from an 18-month lark around Milwaukee, when he snuck out again a few days later, found me and literally jumped into my arms.
There's a good chance Mojo was abused by the time I found him. Turns out that he belonged to the vet's assistant; an incredible coincidence I discovered when I brought him in as a stray eight years ago. He had a microchip implanted because he was always escaping, and I sadly returned to him to his owners, but Jackie, the assistant, asked if I wanted to keep the little guy -- and since we had bonded in the week following our meeting, I happily accepted.
Thing is, Mojo is schizophrenic. He craves attention, climbing on me while I try to sleep, rubbing his face all over everything. But he also yearns to be free. He scratches on doors and windows, meowing loudly at all hours, and sneaks out whenever someone leaves the door open a crack. A few years ago, he snuck out and it took me 72 hours to find him. When I did, he was sitting on a porch two blocks away. He let me scoop him up and bring him home.
For a few years, Mojo's wanderlust was contained, and I actually thought he was mellowing with age. We even got him another cat to keep him entertained. Little and sweet Jabie (named after Jack Black) kept Mo in line, establishing some sort of feline pecking order in my home.
But now, as Mojo gets older, he's becoming more insane. This spring, he had become so crazy and loud in the middle of the night that we thought he was sick. We brought him back to that same vet who checked him out all those years ago, and even though he plays the role of "devil cat" when in for a checkup, she declared him fit as a fiddle. Her diagnosis? Spring madness. Really.
So, now I'm at a crossroads. We think Mojo is about 10 years old. He could live for many more years, but he wants, more than anything, to be outside. But if he leaves, it's surely a death sentence. He has claws (oh, does he ever), so he could defend himself. But would he get eaten by the foxes who roam my Bay View neighborhood? Absolutely. That is if he didn't get hit by a car first.
Assuming he was comfortable being an outside cat who came home for meals and cuddles, he'd probably pick up a disease and spread it to our other, normal cat. That wouldn't be good, either.
And yes, I've put him on a leash and let him skulk around the backyard. Either he's found a way to escape then, too, or that taste of freedom just made him more neurotic when I brought him back inside.
I love Mojo, but he's a tortured soul. He hisses at the dog, the baby and ruins all my furniture. I wish I could pawn him off on a loving family, but he'd drive them crazy, too. I can't set him free, since we all know how that would end (though at least he'd enjoy his final days on this Earth). I don't know of any farms that are willing to take a surly old cat. I'd never surrender him to the Humane Society, taking up valuable resources that should go to an actual stray.
Is this my cross to bear? Do I have to watch Mojo get increasingly crazy for the next decade? Or is there another option that I'm not thinking of? Do they make kitty Prozac, and how do you administer it?
Owning a cat is a loooooong commitment, and from here on out, it's dogs only. But that doesn't solve my immediate problem of crazy Mojo. I'm at the end of my scratching post and searching for answers.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.