I was a sophomore in college when Louie found his way into my mom’s garage. He was a white and orange kitten, no more than 2 months old and was taking shelter from the summer rain. Like most animal lovers, I kept him.
Over the next six years, Louie and I become quite the pair. He was there when my high-school sweetheart broke my heart. He survived living with my best friend’s vicious Chihuahua and he was the first to greet me after I started my job in the real world. We were inseparable and quite frankly, Louie was kind of like my best friend — just with fur.
However, when I became pregnant with my son in March 2013, something changed. The vet said it was probably a coincidence, but my once sweet, snuggly kitty had suddenly turned into a terrifying, manic attack cat.
Out of nowhere, he was attacking everyone, including myself. His unprovoked bites and scratches would draw blood, and it was impossible to figure out what was triggering him. There was no answer, no pattern. Friends and family became scared to come over and eventually, I had to start separating Louie and myself from locking one of us in a room while the other one roamed the apartment.
Pregnant and desperate to keep my fur-child, I took Louie to a vet that specialized in cat behavior. For months, we tried everything — diet changes, medication, time outside, new toys — nothing was changing. Re-homing Louie wasn’t an option, as his attacks had gotten so terrible, I didn’t feel comfortable forcing another family to deal with them.
I tried to hold out hope for him, but after one faithful attack that took place while I was sleeping, I knew it was time to let him go. Something was wrong with my cat, and it was going to take a lot of time, money and painful procedures to maybe find an answer, so I made the phone call and said good-bye to my best friend.
At the time, putting Louie down was the hardest decision I had made, but it was only a matter of weeks until I was going to become a mom. I couldn’t risk my fur-child attacking my helpless newborn.
If you are a pet-parent and are experiencing some issues between your fur-baby and your kiddos, here’s what I suggest:
- Seek professional help. Don’t ignore that something is wrong. Go to a vet. You’ll be surprised how much you learn and how some very small changes can make a difference.
- Try all avenues. When the vet suggested I needed to spend 30 minutes of uninterrupted time playing with my cat, I think I laughed in her face. Then again, I was the one paying a Cat Behavioral Specialist to treat my pet. I tried it and it didn’t work, but at least I know I did everything I possibly could have done.
- Put your children first. Trust me, I know pets are family members, too. Louie was my first child, but when it came time to deciding if my cat was more important than my unborn child’s safety and well-being, there was no question.
I miss Louie all the time, and I have yet to be able to bring another pet into my life, but I know I made the right decision. When I see my son run down the hallway or dangle his feet from his high chair, I’m grateful that I don’t have to fend off a wild, attack cat while simultaneously trying not to step on a Lego.
Family is everything, but unfortunately sometimes our fur-children and our children just don’t mix.