The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Catio

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The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Catio

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I work at Brooklyn College, but since we have been working remotely, I have been staying in Maine. I have two cats, and perhaps foolishly, I was letting them go out into the great outdoors every day. It wasn't very long before they began hunting and killing little animals-fighting with other cats-even disappearing over night one time. I was getting very stressed out worrying about the cats-this also seemed a ridiculous concern to me in the middle of a terrible time when it has been a struggle to deal with bad news every day; people losing their work, their art, their friends and relatives. Some inspiring news as well, like the #blacklivesmatter #BLM protests, but always the good was in reaction to some atrocity. It seemed as if there was constantly some piece of toxic news as well as some dead animal from the cats every day. I'm not sure how I stood it so long; the whole summer, really. Finally, I woke up on the morning of September 18 to read that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I thought, there is absolutely nothing now to stop all of our civil rights from being curtailed, the environment from being ravaged, the election from being stolen; so many things that the world has had really for a very short time may well soon be taken away, all because RBG has passed before an election could wrest control from the vicious party in power. When I read the headline I think I screamed out, Oh, no! and started crying. I cried all day long; I had to leave my husband by himself and go for a long walk in the woods alone. I came home completely drained, but calm.
The next day, when I let the cats out, they both returned in about 10 minutes, each with a dead animal clamped in their jaws. I thought, I've had enough. I made the decision in that moment not to let my cats out anymore. Since they are now indoor-outdoor cats, that has been very difficult. Yowling, door-dashing, vomiting, even peeing on things: they have done everything they could to make me change my mind. To make it possible for them to enjoy the outdoors, but without killing squirrels, chipmunks, voles, moles, snakes, baby gophers, field mice, and even the occasional bird, also to keep myself from going wild with grief and fear after RBG's death, I took a bunch of scrap lumber from the shed, bought netting and staples, and I built the "Catio" (an outdoor enclosure for cats). While I worked on it, I couldn't hear the miaows of woe from inside the house, and by the time it was finished my heart had poured out some of the bitterness that it holds, for the fact that a new, right wing, anti-liberal supreme court justice can be voted on at any moment. It's just a matter of how soon.
I am no carpenter, so my hands were full of splinters and I was bone-weary when I was done. The cats went into their catio with excitement, and tested every corner of it to see if they could escape. I followed them with my stapler and my zip ties, tightening it up. They are not completely satisfied with the catio, but it is a whole lot better than nothing. I've started to supplement by taking them for walks on leashes in the front yard, and who knows, when the next really toxic news cycle comes around, I may well build a bigger, better catio. I want to be a responsible pet owner, and protect the environment-maybe I can't control the terrible big things that go wrong, but I can do just a little bit that I can in my own way.
Adjunct librarian

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Pandemic Pets>Covid’s Impact on Pets

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This item was submitted on October 7, 2020 by [anonymous user] using the form “Share Your Story With Us” on the site “Brooklyn College New York”:

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