It’s fucked up how we gender our pets when they totally don’t care.
I was surprised by the strong feelings I had when it got time to have my darling shithead kitten neutered. I grew up believing responsible owners spay and neuter, and at no point did I seriously consider not going through with it. But apparently while I was grwoing up I also absorbed some interesting attitudes about masculinity, and balls, and now they were coming to the surface about a kitten who has no clue.
Neutering is pretty minor as surgeries go, but I was upset and anxious about Vishnu’s neutering in a way I wasn’t when Lilith was spayed – which is major abdominal surgery. I made an ass of myself. When I dropped him off at the vet’s, I was all, “Promise you’ll take good care of my baby” and not wanting to leave, and then at work all morning I was a distracted wreck, doing nothing but post facebook updates about how I’m worried about my baby boy, until they called to say the surgery was done. I’ll be honest, part of it is that I’m a bad mom and I love him more than Lilith. Probably because he cuddles more and bites less.
A significant part of it, I think, was aversion to change. Once the fur grows back, you can’t tell a female cat has been spayed. Her abdomen doesn’t cave in or anything. But with neutering, something is very obviously there, and then not-there. Vishnu sleeps on my chest, and after a few months of waking up with his fuzzy nuts against my cheek, my daily teabagging was an inside joke with myself. And that morning chuckle would be over. (Now that it’s done, it’s still funny waking up with his tail for a moustache.)
It went deeper than that, though. You try so hard to critically evaluate your beliefs and write your own story independent of the dominant cultural narrative, but it’s hard. Some positive narratives exist around female sterilization – yay, no pregnancy! – and if it weren’t for the health benefits of having ovaries, I’d be lining up to get spayed myself. But castration: that’s the Worst Thing Ever. A guaranteed DO NOT WANT. Not to mention entire theories of personality bsed on castration anxiety.
So yeah, I was anxious. What was I doing to my baby, and how would he take it? Where I used to mock the very concept of Neuticles, I was semi-seriously looking into getting some. The only reason I didn’t is that I’m cheap.
It’s pretty weird how we gender our pets.
In the month or so since Vishnu got the chop, not much has changed. The teabagging is now tea-less, but continues apace. There’s been only one change in his behaviour, and it’s a good one: he used to be obsessed with my periods. He’d try to fling himself into the toilet – while I was still on it – when I’d empty my Diva Cup, and then if I put it in the sink for a moment he’d jump in and steal it and run away, and there’d be a gory chase scene. Or I could lock him out of the bathroom and he’d howl. And between periods he’d break into the medicine cabinet and steal it. Now he’s completely uninterested. This is a Good Thing. Other than that, he’s still 100% himself.
I’m thinking nuts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.