Obligatory pet post

28 Mar

When I was asked to be a part of this blog, it was with the understanding that my posts were supposed to be valuable in some way, shape, or form. Since I am an expert on precisely nothing, I was told that it’s fine, so long as my posts are entertaining. Sadly, my concept of entertaining differs from the rest of the world’s, and that is how you get posts like this one, which will focus entirely on my cat.

No, don’t worry, you’re not getting pictures with captions or even pictures without captions. There’s a place for those, and it’s not here. No, rather you are getting the captivating tale of how my husband and I met and learned to love my cat, despite him being an intolerable misogynist.

Alternately, you could find content just as interesting here.

My cat wandered into our lives two months shy of our first anniversary. We were living in what I affectionately called the slums of the suburbs, a fairly run-down apartment complex in which people would sit on our cars right outside our first-floor window at midnight and carouse, the neighbors upstairs would scream at each other from the window to the parking lot (and we had two different sets of upstairs neighbors; they both did this), and the locks on the doors of the building were constantly broken, except for the day when I locked my keys in the car.

It’s this last issue that helped contribute to the adoption process. The carefree (or possibly uncaring) inhabitants of our building had let the stray fellow into the building once or twice, leaving him to forage in the stairwell. Naturally, this meant it was now His Home, and he returned daily to whine outside the building. The landlord didn’t get upset until someone put food out for him; we had enough problems with roaches as it was. So, the people on the third floor took him in.

This lasted for all of one week before he sprayed their couch. Then, out he went again.

We should have taken this as a sign to stay away. But when I headed out for overtime one fine Saturday, the friendliest little tabby in the world wandered in from the misty morning and rubbed himself dry on my work pants. I stopped to marvel over his cuuuuute widdow white paws, and as Chris and I tried to decide what to do with the little bugger, a member of the third-floor crew came down to explain what sparse history he knew. There was no collar, and though he’d been around the neighborhood for a while, no one had come looking for him, even in this area where all cats were required by law to be indoor cats. Truly, he was a cat free for the keeping.

Male cats spray, I reasoned, until you get them fixed. We had no real attachment to our $5 garage sale couch, and were willing to take the risk that he might ruin it before the Memorial Day weekend was up. And so, with a donation of litter and food from those who had forsworn him, we decided to take the cat in. But we weren’t going to keep his name. The people on the third floor had been calling him Paws, which we deemed an entirely cliche and boring name. No, my puntastic husband instead took the homonym seriously, and decided that we should call him something else to be found on a DVD remote. By the time I got home, he’d narrowed it down to two, and presented me with the choice. Fast Forward was what I later realized we should have named him, but I found the alternative amusing. And so, Top Menu he became.

–Insert half hour writing break while the author cleans up cat vomit. This is not a joke, I wish it was. My god he must have hidden the other one yesterday…–

While he was a beautiful cat, perfectly healthy and perfectly litterbox trained (to what we owe that gift, I still know not), by nightfall we knew he was not a perfect pet. The first entire month of nights was spent with him racing from window to window, yowling to be let out for hours. Still, it wasn’t until the second day that he drew blood. Why, after the day he leapt up and attempted to pierce my ear cartilage, we opted not to get him declawed is still on occasion a mystery to me. I attribute it to my incredibly humanitarian spirit and a vast supply of stupidity.

They offered, too, when I dragged him in the following Friday to have his testicles removed. “You sure?” they asked, eyeing the numerous scabs on my arms and the small hole in my face. “We have to put him out anyway, it’s only a bit longer recovery…”

“No,” I said, “but I want his balls in a jar so I can taunt him with them later.”

Okay, so maybe this exchange did not happen. Maybe I simply declined and was praised for not mutilating my new pet unnecessarily. That does not keep me from wishing I had cat testicles on display.

I had hoped that the surgery would calm him down, that the excessive aggression that had me crying and begging to get rid of this tiny pointy monster would abate. And for a time, it did. Unfortunately, that time only lasted as long as the painkillers, and within two weeks it was back to looking at clothing not for fashion, but for armor rating.

Now, I did refer to him as a misogynist. The reason for this is that my husband has never had the same frequency of attack as I have. Where I was terrified to walk down certain hallways for months, my spouse was beloved. He gets the occasional ankle grab, and sometimes has his arm chewed upon if the cat is in a bad mood, but not nearly to the same degree as my wrist is mauled. Chris was the one to make him a lap cat (only on Chris’s lap, of course) and the one with whom the cat will cuddle in bed. Me? I am prey. This especially applies on my way into the shower; I don’t know whether he knows that naked means no armor, or whether he is just that enraged by the sight of a female body, but the likelihood of cattack goes up by a factor of ten the minute my pants come off*.

It isn’t just me, either. The first (and only) time that my mother-in-law visited our apartment, she made the grave error of wearing sandals. Our freshly-adopted kitten wandered over, friendly as could be, and chomped on her foot. We chased him away from my mother when his ears went back. Jeni he likes for some reason, but even another friend who came to visit and brought really great treats got her share of viciousness. Meanwhile, all of Chris’s male friends are either ignored or hidden from, including the ones who own cats.

I know I make it sound awful, and for most of the first year, it was. But several things have happened along the way. One, I stopped being scared of him. A little cat scratch fever only killed some people, I decided eventually, and now I still use him to practice my rusty aikido; there’s nothing more amusing than getting out of the line of his attack and watching him smash into a wall. Plus, I’m just bigger than him, and I remind him regularly that I am, along with smarter and longer-lived. Two, he’s calmed down. By the vet’s reckoning, he’s about eight now, and he’s starting to slow down a bit. This means considerably less trying to be alpha male kitty and considerably more sunbathing and being adorable. And three, we’ve bonded. Some.

I still remember the first time.

It was about a month after we’d gotten him. Chris’s family’s annual vacation came at the end of June then, and while this had been scheduled to be my first year accompanying, I’d just gotten a new job in April, which meant I didn’t have a full week’s leave saved up, so I had to stay home. There was still edible wedding cake in the freezer, and so I’m not ashamed to admit that I took the short separation hard. As his car pulled away, I collapsed on the couch in tears.

The cat had never seen me cry about anything that wasn’t his doing, but it still was a bit confusing to see him cautiously approaching, his round eyes wide and… could it be concerned? My sniffling subsided slightly when he leapt lightly up beside me. There was none of his usual posturing, no yowling that heralded an assault. He simply came to investigate, gentle as could be. My cat was coming to comfort me. He settled to the cushions and pushed his head against my arm….

…And then dug his teeth into my elbow. Asshole.

*The likelihood of husband attack goes up by a factor of 100.

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3 Responses to “Obligatory pet post”

  1. Anna March 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Oh man, Top Menu is about the opposite of Charlie, my black and white Maine Coon mix. Charlie is not very large, but very fluffy, and adorable in a PAT MY BELLY I’M CUTEING AT YOU sort of way.

    Except that whoever owned Charlie previously was a first rate asshole, and he spent his first two years living with us afraid to purr and running away from shoes. (Grr)

    Since then, however, I have become Charlie’s person. He wants me to pick him up – especially right after I get out of the shower, I think because I take REALLY HOT showers, so I’m warm. Or something. He follows me everywhere, even into the bathroom (usually for a game of “catch the hand in the shower curtain”…)

    I can pick him up and roll him over, brush out his tail, carry him upside down like a baby, perch him on my shoulder, smoosh him around, and make him completely into the bed (under the fitted sheet).

    Charlie and SSH, on the other hand, have not yet worked out such an arrangement. For all other humans that are not me, Charlie is Respectable Social Distance Cat. He likes people… just not that much. SSH would really like to be able to pet Charlie, and sometimes Charlie will walk up to him and “meer” incessantly to be pet.

    And when SSH reaches down to pet him? Charlie bites him and runs away.

    Cats. /sigh (At least the other cat is super friendly)

  2. Kel March 29, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Buster has ‘moods’. Most of the time he’s a sweetheart, but a couple times a day he goes into hyper mode. He races up and down the hallway, jumps up walls, and tackles ankles. When he’s really wound up, he will try to nom hands and arms. He’s not really mean about it, though, just being crazy.

  3. Caulle March 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Is there Salmon in his cat food? My cat (The Stig) is apparently allergic to Salmon. He turned a year old last fall so I switched him to the adult food, and naturally assumed he would prefer Salmon to the Chicken variety I fed him as a kitten. About a month later he started throwing up. It became almost a weekly nightmare. It got to the point the first thing I did before feeding him each morning was take a walk around the apartment to see if he had barfed up his dinner overnight.

    We finally brought him in to see the vet in January and she said he was probably intolerant to Salmon. I switched his diet and he hasn’t thrown up since.

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