So…I have a confession to make.

When I applied for this house, I was a little inexact about the exact cat population at Chez Suzy. I felt – correctly, as it turned out – that if I admitted to having three cats, I would be immediately disqualified as a potential tenant. Three cats seemed perilously close to Crazy Cat Lady territory, not a neighborhood considered desirable by most (or any) landlords. So I only admitted to the existence of Audrey, in the belief that she was the most likely to be seen by the landlord.

In my defense, it is almost impossible to find a place that allows any form of pet, and I had been looking for almost a year before I found this place, which also is lovelier than my wildest dreams. I assumed I would just move into another eccentric hippie house. Imagine my surprise when I saw this place, not to mention my desperate wish to live here.

Needless to say, after I moved in, I was constantly worried that my landlord would find out the cats were a trio, rather than a solo act, and of course, it happened. She came in one day when I wasn’t home to check on the septic system. She didn’t call or text or otherwise let me know ahead of time, and I was at work, as she could clearly see, since my car was gone. She knew quite well I wasn’t home.

Of course, she discovered the unauthorized cats and freaked out, which in turn freaked me out, fearing that I would end up either homeless or catless. I discovered this in a series of agitated texts while I was in a library board meeting. I called her after the meeting and she basically said I had to rehome two of the cats.

I called the free legal service provided by my work, and was amazed to discover that I didn’t have a leg (or a paw) to stand on. All you hear is how tenants have all the rights and it’s so hard to get rid of them and everything is in their favor, but the polar opposite is true. I thought my landlord had committed a crime by deliberately entering my rented premises when I wasn’t there and without my permission. Apparently this is only a problem if it’s “a pattern”. The real problem is that I broke my lease by having two unauthorized cats. Oh, and because I’ve lived there less than a year, my landlord only has to give me 30 days’ notice to move out, and take my legal and illegal felines with me.

I sent my landlord an email, apologizing sincerely and basically begging to keep my beloved cats. She was willing to listen, and there was a back and forth between us. She said she would need another $500 pet deposit, which I was glad to agree to (though I had no idea how I would come up with the money), and she wanted to check the premises monthly, which I also agreed to.

The inspection finally happened this past Sunday. I think it was good that we talked face to face. I again apologized and she said her issue was really with trust, not with the cats, and I totally understand that. She told me some personal things, which I took to be working towards rebuilding our trust, and went through the house. She remarked on how nice it looked, which made me feel good, and though she pointed out some scratches on a couple of the redwood beams, I truly believe they are old and not caused by my cats. I said I wished we had done this before I moved in, and she agreed. She took photos of everything.

Audrey is 13, Clyde is 10, and Dodge is 3. As they pass away, I’m not planning to replace them, and will end up with just one cat, and I let her know that.

We chatted a bit when she left, and as she walked toward her house she said, “I’ll get you the paperwork,” which I hope means that everything is all right. I will always be honest with her going forward, and I hope that we can mend our relationship and be good neighbors for years to come.

A YEAR AGO: It was snowing! And I was under the weather.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A gigantic, scary, power-removing storm. I’d rather have snow, thank you.

TEN YEARS AGO: An illustrious former neighbor.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Getting lost is one of my special talents. They are all pretty much useless.

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