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Condos, Kittens, and How We Almost Killed George

Living with a loving wife and three cats, I am well aware of the feline-human hierarchy and my position at the bottom of the chart.

Our kittens, Celine (left) and Dakota, shortly after their arrival

Our kittens, Celine (left) and Dakota, shortly after their arrival

Cats in Condos

My wife and I lived in a condo for a number of years before we decided we'd had enough of the Condo Association Police.

Our condo was nice enough, though nothing really special. There were four units in our building, two up and two down; ours was on the second floor. There was just the two of us, being empty-nesters, and life was good. Every now and then, however, we thought it would be nice to have a pet—a kitten or perhaps a small dog—but there were rules against having pets, so it was just one of those subjects that came and went.

This is Dakota, mischief incarnate

This is Dakota, mischief incarnate

An Unexpected Turn of Events

One day, my wife called from the small consignment shop where she worked and asked me to come down there. She wanted to show me something. I figured someone had brought in an item that had piqued her interest and she wanted my opinion on it.

This was not a good sign because she usually only wants my opinion on expensive things. When I arrived, there was a tall cardboard box by the counter and my wife and the proprietor were taking turns looking down into it, making motherly cooing noises. I heard a mewing sound, put two and two together, and realized we were going to have a kitten in our condo—and to hell with the Association.

This is Celine, the princess

This is Celine, the princess

The Decision

I was wrong about there just being one kitten in the box. Staring up at me from the bottom of the box were four big blue eyes and two bundles of orange fluff. They were dusty and scared. One of them kept mewing—we would name him Dakota—and his sister, Celine, just watched him, occasionally looking up at us fearfully. The box was waiting to be picked up by someone to be taken to a farm outside of town. When I halfheartedly objected, saying maybe we could take one, but two would be harder to hide, my wife smiled sweetly and told me to decide which one would go to the condo and which one would go to the farm and get eaten by an owl. I'm the practical one; my wife follows her heart. We took them both and broke the rules.

Dakota in our Christmas tree

Dakota in our Christmas tree

Two Distinct Personalities

Even as tiny kittens, they had distinct personalities: Celine is a princess and Dakota is a little s**t.

We bonded immediately, which is a good thing for Dakota because I do believe I didn't sleep through a single night for years trying to make sure the neighbors didn't hear anything. He was into and onto everything, knocking things over, digging stuff out, getting into cupboards and anyplace he wasn't supposed to.

We had to get rid of all our plants. We tried spraying him with water when he misbehaved but all we got was a wet, pissed off kitten and soggy carpeting and furniture. It wasn't that he was a devil all the time—he has a lovable streak that melts the hardest heart—but he gets bored at night. Celine usually just watches the whole show in a bemused sort of way.

One night, Dakota managed to push the small television in our bedroom off its stand and it crashed to the floor. It was 3:30 in the morning. Our downstairs neighbor, a retired widower named George who we didn't know very well, asked me about it the next day. He said it had nearly given him a heart attack—and I apologized, telling him we'd rearranged things and I'd knocked it over in the dark.

Celine lying down, Dakota . . . sitting

Celine lying down, Dakota . . . sitting

Our Neighbor, George

The months went by and Dakota kept up his antics. I realized that part of the problem was that we were so sensitive to being found out.

One summer morning I was out on the deck having coffee and I noticed George below on his patio. He looked like death warmed over. When I asked him if he was all right, he looked up at me with haunted, sunken eyes and said he couldn't sleep at nights—he kept having nightmares of huge rats in the walls, hearing them running around, sometimes seeing their red, glowing eyes peering out at him. He thought he was going crazy.

I told him how sorry I was to hear that and hoped the nightmares would stop soon. Then I went inside and told my wife that we were killing poor George. We discussed our options and decided that we couldn't live with ourselves if George died, but we weren't going to give up our cats. If worse came to worse, we'd move. Yes, we'd become crazy cat people.

Dakota watching his favorite physics program

Dakota watching his favorite physics program

My Confession

I went downstairs, steeled myself and knocked on the door. George opened it and said hello. The man looked even worse up close. His eyes were bloodshot, his skin sallow and sagging. I thought of running away but then took a deep breath and let the chips fall where they may. Did I mention he was a retired chief of police?

“George? Um . . . George. You're not going crazy. We have two cats and that's what you've been hearing at night.” There, I'd said it. I waited for my neighbor's justified anger.

Instead, his eyes brightened and relief flooded his face. “Oh, thank God! I'm not hearing things! It's just cats.”

“You're not angry? I know we're not supposed to have pets . . .”

“Hell no. I don't mind cats . . . oh, it's such a relief. You've made my day.”

Peace at Last

So, we made peace with our neighbor—actually, we became friends—and got to keep our cats and our condo. We checked in with George periodically, especially whenever Dakota had a particularly boisterous night and I slept a little better, but not much. We ended up moving out a few years later, anyway.

The Association Police didn't like the state of my deck, and it was just the sight of one of their functionaries with her clipboard (she'd forgotten her armband) standing on the grass below, pointing out my deficiencies that put us over the edge. We bought an older house where the kids—I mean cats—could do whatever they pleased. And I slept like a baby.

Celine asleep on her brother

Celine asleep on her brother

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 David Hunt


David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 25, 2016:

Thanks, Theresa. You obviously know where I'm coming from-- they are a part of our family. We have three now (Dakota, Celine and Izzy, a stray we rescued) and it can get pretty hectic sometimes, but when the three of them are asleep they are angels.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on February 24, 2016:

Just love this Harald. I have had cats for most of the last forty years and they have added so much to my life and the lives of my children, Blessings. Theresa

Kathy from Independence, Kansas on August 13, 2012:

Looking forward to all the storie you share about your sweet family, UnnamedHarald!

David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on August 13, 2012:

Always glad to hear from you, Lucky Cats. Thank you for your generous comment. Maybe I'll pen a short addendum or even another hub about how our third cat, Izzie, came into the family.

Kathy from Independence, Kansas on August 12, 2012:

Hi UnnamedHarald! All I can say is this is such a lovely, wonderfully loving story. You've made my day. I am always so pleased to learn that others can love to the extent that you and your wife do...for animals. It's hard to live in places that don't allow animals..and you two did the right thing by rescuing those two beautiful kittens...cats from certain short, risky lives. I'm glad you were able to find a suitable home for you and kids...oops! kits. Take care and thank you for sharing a great, heartwarming story of true compassion. UP Funny Awesome and Beautiful.

David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 28, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, That Grrl. Sorry about your allergies. We'll have to differ on keeping cats inside. Sooner or later they would be killed or injured in the city, whether by accident or viscious animals or other scum. We've had ours 10 years now and plan on many more years.

Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on February 28, 2012:

Poor George. I'm on the other side of the pet issue. We rent an apartment and don't want pets. Not just for the risk of damage to the place, the fact that their poo has to wind up somewhere and won't be pretty or smell very nice... but I have asthma and am very allergic to animals. We have a no smoking rule for the same reason. Of course, the irony is that I love cats. When we have lived out of a urban/ suburban area I kept cats outside in the sheds. I wouldn't have indoor cats for the reason of asthma/ allergies. But, I kind of like seeing them have the freedom of being outside, able to venture wherever they like and I never have to be annoyed about them getting into anything or breaking anything. I miss having them around now but we live on the edge of a city and neighbours have pets but I don't have the heart to lock them up inside a house so I just look at cat photos online now and then instead. :)

David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 19, 2012:

Thanks for the comments, cookingrecipes and Keerthy. Much appreciated.

Keerthy from Cochin on February 18, 2012:

Woow Nice...

Saidevan from Kerala on February 18, 2012:

omg.. cute cats i just love them thanks for posting this hub...

David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 18, 2012:

Thank you for the comment, Tenkay. I certainly understand how you feel. One of the things I like about them is that their affection is genuine. I'm sure you know what I mean.

TENKAY from Philippines on February 18, 2012:

I love your story and your cats. I had to transfer to another apartment too because one of my neighbors don't like dogs and well I am not comfortable if my 'babies' are not welcome in the neighborhood. I got a persian cat, she is a behaved cat, but still as loveable as your 'babies'.