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The Internet is heavily under the influence of the powerful pro-kitten lobby, but I need you to listen to the truth: kittens are terrible and will ruin your life. Once upon a time, these horrible ...

... soulless ...

... disgusting creatures had me duped as well. Like many kittenless couples, we wanted kittens badly. The only drawback (so we thought) was that they'd turn into mean, lazy adult cats someday, and then we'd have to shred them, or however it is you dispose of outdated pets.


My boyfriend found the perfect solution in "kitten fostering." That's when orphaned baby kittens too young to be adopted are raised in a foster home by volunteers until they're old enough to be neutered and put up for permanent adoption. After they're adopted out, the foster family can then foster some new kittens, and you'll never have stupid grown-up cats. "It's like a kitten library!" he said. You just check out fresh kittens, every two months, forever, then give them back when you're done!

So we talked to a rescue organization and came home with Kirk, Picard and Sisko (the fourth would have been named Scott Bakula.)

Same litter, different dads. Yes, cats can do that.

These little angel-faced assholes showed us the reality of raising kittens: unrelenting horror.


Kittens have particularly sharp claws since they're so small, and until they've been trained using the "screaming in pain" method, they see no reason to ever retract them. Our kittens were pretty affectionate, which you think is a positive until you realize more affection means more scars. It's been almost two years since the kittens left. Here's my leg today:

There are two types of scars they'll give you. The first type of scar is a puncture scar, from kittens climbing on your lap and just not bothering to retract their claws. You get anything from minor pincushion pokes to deep blood-drawing punctures. It takes most cats a while to learn the difference between sitting on a person and sitting on an inanimate object and appropriate claw positions for each case. Although you have the occasional cat prodigy, like Kirk, because Kirk was the best cat ever. Keep this in mind for later.

Capt. James T. Kirk: Best Cat Ever.

You also get these scars from "kneading," a cat behavior that looks like kneading dough with their front paws. They do it on bedding, they do it on people they like, and they do it with claws out. Why? Because they're sadists.

The second type of scar is a scratch, which comes from sudden movements, like an adventurous cat trying to climb Mount You (because you're there) and slipping, or a cat wriggling out of your grasp while you're trying to feed it or, rather ironically, clip its nails so that it can't scratch you.

Not a task for the faint-hearted.

Sure, maybe if you're smart, or not clumsy, you can avoid a lot of this, but let's just say that between claw scars and flea bites, the cats have ensured that I will never achieve my dream of becoming a swimsuit model.

Ski wear could still be in the cards!

You Have To Make Them Poop

Before they are a certain age (three to four weeks), orphaned kittens need to be fed from a bottle.

Isn't that cute? Then you have to make them poop. Yeah, that's right. Those adorable little snuggleballs need help peeing and pooping. Usually the mom cat helps them. How? By licking their anus and genitals, of course. And now it's your job!

We actually went with a towel for this, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

Here, practice with this.

Some guides mention that the kitten might not poop right away, which really would have been helpful to know beforehand. We started with Picard, who just wriggled and wouldn't poop, so we let him go. He immediately took a huge dump on the couch. His brother Sisko saw this and was like, "Oh, is this what we're doing?" and took a duplicate dump right there as well.

Let me say I have smelled a lot of poops in my day, and cat poop outstinks them all. We were going to send them back right then and there but they stopped us by looking like this:

For the record, Kirk did not take a dump, and was the first one to poop in the litter box when we brought it out.

Best cat ever, remember?

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Routine Cat Barf

Kittens are like babies, apparently they get sick all the time. Their immune systems are very vulnerable, and during the foster training, people fill your head with all kinds of horror stories about 10 ways kittens can die in agony if you forget to wash your hands. Like with human babies, though, seasoned parents shrug it off and laugh at the newbies getting all worked up about a harmless sneeze or routine gaping head wound.

"Oh, quit your fussing. He'll be fine."

For us, there were three weeks of nonstop sneezing fits, which in retrospect was adorable, but at the time had me worried to death about cat pneumonia or cat AIDS or something. And then there was a lot of barfing and diarrhea.

Yeah, cat AIDS is a real thing.

We called the cat rescue people a few times and after they gathered that the kittens weren't showing any other symptoms, they basically said, "Just wait it out, they'll be fine." Diarrhea is apparently no big deal unless it's pure liquid. I forgot to mention you don't want to be reading this during breakfast.

There was one point where one of the kittens threw up and then wouldn't eat. He went to lie down and then stopped moving. We separated him from the other two, called the rescue lady, and were getting ready to say the cat last rites when he just got up, started eating and went back to normal, right before she got there. Little fucker was messing with us.

Jean-Luc Picard was not as honorable as his namesake.

Anyway, after a while, when they didn't die or develop cat AIDS, the constant guilt and terror part went away and we were just left with tiny sneezes keeping us awake at night and surprise piles of partially digested food turning up in unexpected places.

Litter Tracking

Everyone says cats are so easy to deal with because they train themselves, and sure, they will use the litter without any work from you, but it's what happens after that that is the problem. After using the litter, in the litter box, they then do their best to get as much litter out of the box as possible, either by randomly digging in the litter and kicking it out any entrance/exit to the box or by taking it with them on their feet or fur.

This is the only litter box our cats cannot kick litter out of.

Kittens are especially retarded and will go ahead and step in the fresh poo or pee they just made, and then get a wad of litter stuck to their poo foot, and then bolt throughout the house, leaving poo prints everywhere. Our foster kittens did this unintentionally but if your cat is an asshole, like one of our later kittens, and they're unhappy with the way the litter smells, or the cleanliness of the litter box, or can't wait five minutes for you to finish cleaning it, they will go ahead and take a dump on your bed or something. On purpose.

This picture has been going around the Internet and I don't see any reason to doubt it.

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Nighttime Partying

Kittens are naturally nocturnal, which means that just when you want to go to bed, they want to party. That means that while we were trying to sleep, they were having cat races and cat MMA matches all over us. They felt that our bed was some kind of dirt-track/Thunderdome combo, which sounds awesome if you are not sleeping in it.

Another popular nighttime activity: King of the Mountain.

And I know in a TV show or a fond memoir, people look back on this with a winking "those little rascals" tone, but in real life, sleep deprivation means screwing up your job or being dangerously unalert on the freeway, not just a boring grown-up's hangdog response to some hilarious mischief.

Sleep deprivation probably also explains our first plan, which was to concede the bedroom to the cats, and sleep on the living room couch. After a week, we did a double-take (sleep deprivation slows down your reaction time) and realized we had been driven out of our own room by three baby kittens. We made a pact and took the bedroom back by force, armed with a soda can full of coins and compressed air spray. They soon learned the Thunderdome was a place of hissing and rattling terror.

A kitten owner's best friend.

That didn't stop them from raising hell at night, they just did it off the bed. And while you can't ever learn to go to sleep while things are jumping and clawing all over you, you can sort of manage it while they're just doing it around you. Sort of.

Saying Goodbye

Kittens aren't forever. If you're fostering, or if your own cat had a litter, you'll have to give at least some of them up once they're old enough to find new homes. You wiped their butts, you cleaned up their barf, you were mutilated and woken up in the middle of the night by them, and now you're supposed to give them away to some stranger. Some stranger who doesn't understand them like you do.

Someone who will put a SAILOR SUIT on them.

And the worst thing is that adopters are going to pick all the best kittens, and leave you with the dregs. We ended up keeping one foster kitten, Sisko, who nobody wanted because he was black.

And stupid.

Sisko's been an awesome cat, but Capt. Kirk was the best cat I ever met and I had to give him away to some family that renamed him Hobbes.

Here is a subtle metaphor for me metaphorically not wanting to let him go: me physically not letting him go.

And even if you're adopting a kitten for keeps, the circle of life is cruel. Every bundle of joy you bring home now is going to be a really sad week for you 10 to 15 years down the line. That's why most psychologists say you should go through life like a robot, having no attachment to any human or animal and taking no emotional risks.

I feel safe saying that because even if anyone agrees with that load of shit, all I have to do is show you a picture of a kitten climbing a tiny tree:

... and that will all go out the window. But don't say I didn't warn you!

Find out why critics say You Might Be A Zombie is the best defense against evil cats when you purchase our new book.

And check out more from Christina in A History of Pop Culture's Obsession with Human/Cat Hybrids and 6 Devious Ways Farmville Gets People Hooked.

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