Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have a cat. While I realize that this is not some big, amazing life accomplishment, most people are still surprised to hear it simply because I babble on about what a genius my dog is all the time. Yes, it’s probably true that I choose favorites, and am still more of a dog-person, but I do have a cat, and I even had him first, and he leads a very luxurious life full of food and lounging, just like any other happy cat. His name is Fletch, and he is actually pretty cute. He is also possessed by Satan.
When I moved into my very first apartment, the first one where I lived alone with no annoying roommates, my little sister gave me a housewarming gift disguised as a tiny kitten with black and white fur, a bright pink nose, and bright yellow eyes. At the time, there were no dogs allowed in my building, and I wanted to adopt something, and Fletch was a very affectionate and well-behaved cat. This was a time in my life when I wasn’t as well-behaved, living my roaring twenties to the fullest, but Fletch never judged. We lived very well together.
The first sign that something was amiss was when I was sent to LA for a week-long sales conference. I had Fletch for about a year when I got laid off from a writing job after the stock market crashed. I ended up selling insurance for a year, (also known as my least favorite job ever) and my company sent me to an intensive sales training seminar where I would be forced to schmooze with a bunch of sales-y jerks whom I loathed. My best friend volunteered to stop by my apartment every couple of days while I was gone to check on Fletch and get my mail and all of the things that good friends do while another good friend is out of town. The thing about my best friend is that she is allergic to cats. So while she spoke to Fletch on her visits, the actual physical contact was pretty much nil. I figured he would be OK, after all, cats are very independent and self-sufficient.
I returned from California with a headful of useless knowledge, a severe aversion to men in expensive suits, and the desire to sink into my couch with my sweet little cat and watch cheesy 80’s movies until I felt my personality regain consciousness. Little did I know the Stephen King tale that lurked behind my apartment door.
I walked in and dropped my suitcase by the door. “Hi, Fletchy!!” I cooed in the high-pitched voice that I reserve only for animals and select babies.
The cat meowed at the top of his little lungs as he ran towards me, then he rubbed furiously against my leg. I walked over to the sofa so that I could pick him up and snuggle him. He chose this moment to attack me. I’m not talking about a little bite or scratch; this cat attached himself to my bare arm with teeth and claws digging in. He kicked with his back legs into my soft flesh and let out a low guttural growl. In my shock and self-defense I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and yanked him off of my bloody arm. I tossed him to the ground where he landed gently on his feet, still staring me down. “What the hell is wrong with you, kitty?” I pleaded, wondering what sort of weird shit my best friend did to animals for kicks and if she was really the best friend I thought I knew.
I started to stand up from the couch when Fletch attacked again. He really seemed serious about killing me, and I was actually kind of scared. I was being attacked by a ten pound domesticated animal in my own apartment, in the middle of downtown Denver. The closest thing in my neighborhood to wild animals were a couple of questionable squirrels; so this just wasn’t making sense. I tossed him to the floor again and then got up and sprinted into my bedroom and shut the door. I was confused. When you are being attacked by your own cat, do you call 911, or the Humane Society? Or do you just have to find a shotgun and take care of things yourself, Old Yeller style?
I changed clothes, remembering to put on a huge sweatshirt to cover as much of my skin as possible, then I opened the door a crack and peeked out. No sign of Fletch. I rounded the corner, and there he was, curled in a little ball on the couch licking one paw, surely ridding his furry weapon of crime scene evidence. I approached him slowly, and he started to purr. I sat down on the opposite end of the couch, never taking my eyes from his. He stretched in that way that cats can stretch that makes them look like the most graceful creatures on earth. He walked over to me and I gritted my teeth, keeping my arms in front of my face so that the scarring would be minimal. I braced myself against an inevitable attack, but there wasn’t one. Instead, he climbed slowly into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.
I have never really traveled that much for work, and so anytime that I have left Fletch since that fateful sales conference, it has only been for a day or two, and now there is the dog or Mike around to keep him company. The Pet Semetary incident of 7 years ago was, in fact, almost forgotten when Mike and I went to Europe for two weeks in October. For our trip, the dog went to my dad and step-mom's house where he is spoiled rotten and taken on approximately forty-three walks a day (my dad is convinced that dogs have no actual bladder and, therefore, need to be outside at all times in case they start leaking involuntarily) Fletch, however, did not luck out with a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Instead he stayed at our house. I enlisted two friends from work to each stop by every other day so that the cat would have a visitor every day. I told these friends that he would need extra love because he would be lonely. They accepted these duties without really understanding what might happen, and we left for Europe.
Two weeks later, back at the office, there had apparently been some gossip about me while I was gone. Basically, everyone seemed to believe a horrible rumor that I was housing a rabid cat who had attacked both of my friends and that they were scared to go back to my house. I pretended that I didn’t understand what anyone was talking about, then I slipped my cat-watching friends some Italian leather goods to keep them quiet.
My cat is a huge pain in the ass, and his tendency to attack is one of many little personality “quirks”, but he is normally a nice-ish cat, and I probably stretched the truth a little when I said he was possessed by Satan. He isn’t possessed, he just requires that certain rules are followed:
Do not, under any circumstances leave him alone for more than a day or two.
If you absolutely have to leave him alone, provide his caretakers with a couple of those leather arms that they use for training police dogs. Also, (see exhibit A) hide any furniture that you would like to still be intact when you return.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t ever feed him after midnight.