Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota
I received a phone call from my son one evening at the end of July.”Mom, we found an abandoned kitten on our walk tonight. Can you keep her?” He and his wife can have only two pets in their town home, and thought that since we were down to only one cat and an elderly dog who might die any day in her sleep, we could provide a great home for the foundling. I agreed, with husband’s blessing. Son lives in Brookings, SD., so getting her to western ND might be a problem. Our daughter was going to visit in Brookings the next day, however, and could transport the kitten to Moorhead for a couple of weeks before she came to us for a visit. Kitten’s travel plans were set.
Son set to work caring for kitten. He wasn’t sure how old she was, so he whipped up a concoction of evaporated milk, Karo syrup, and egg yolk for her. He took her to the vet, where he learned that she was about 9 weeks old and free of parasites and disease.There were no reports to animal control about a missing kitten. She was officially ours.
I assumed that since I had agreed to take the kitten, I owned her and could make decisions about her. Daughter met kitten in Brookings and texted me that it would be a great idea if we fostered the kitten for a year until she graduated from college and got her own pet-friendly apartment. I agreed with her. Daughter announced to her brother what he had agreed to. He was furious.
I received a blistering phone call from him, accusing me of abandoning the kitten only 12 hours after agreeing to take her, and said he intended this to be a family cat, and that he didn’t want the kitten moved from our home without consulting him first. Daughter told me he railed at her “Mom plays favorites and you always get everything you want. You never have any expectations put on you. This is supposed to be a family cat”! Daughter was pretty upset about this and texted me “Why are all the men in our family so overly sensitive”? I shared this with her father, who surprised me by having hurt feelings for being accused of being overly sensitive.
I apologized to son for not acknowledging his role in this situation, and that I would certainly consult with him about the kitten in the future. He had, after all, rescued her, fed her, worried about her, and did his best to make her healthy. He graciously accepted my apology and remarked with some incredulity “All this fuss over a kitten!”
Cathexis is a psychoanalytic term that means “to invest emotion or feeling in an idea, object, or person.” I don’t subscribe to a psychoanalytic view of behavior, but this kitten is an unmistakable cathected object. I am trying to figure out just what this all means. I wonder if kitten is aware of all the emotions invested in her. The same sort of conflict occurred between my grandmother and her sister over a set of china canisters. The canisters took on some deep meaning about their relationship that I doubt I will ever understand.
Daughter decided after two weeks of caring for kitten that she was too busy to provide a cat with all the care it needed and that we probably should keep her. I suggested to her that since her brother and his wife would probably buy a house in the next year, perhaps they could take the kitten then. She was upset with me and said “No way Mom. This is a family cat and she’s staying with you and Dad!” She named the kitten “Luna”, a pretty fitting name for a cat that had us all behaving like lunatics.
What is a deeply cathected idea, person, or object in your family?