Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Her Majesty The Cat

Anyone who has ever had a cat is familiar with this story.
It begins with a scrap of fur abandoned in a neighbor's friend's coworker's woodpile. The neighbor's friend's coworker has a dog, and cannot keep the kitten. The neighbor's friend is allergic to cats. The neighbor has six cats already. In fact, the only possible person worthy of housing the aforementioned kitten is you. Never mind (insert objection here); the kitten is so small, so harmless, so helpless, and above all so cute that you can't find the heart to turn her away. (Or if you do have the heart to turn her away, your neighbor is already ahead of you, and got to your spouse and children first, so that your choice is to be viewed by your family by a cruel, heartless, practical monster or to just take the stupid cat. Animal lovers are adept at this sort of blackmail-manipulation.)
So you take the kitten, and discover that her royal cuteness is too young to eat dry food, and has to be fed canned milk with a squeezy-hypodermic-looking thing you got at the pet store. This is very messy; it gives her the appearance of having a frosted beard by the time you're done. And she's too young to sleep by herself; she cries in the night; and you have to clean her bottom with a wet washcloth.
But before these realities kick in, you choose a name. This is complicated by the fact that she's too young to be sexed, so you have to choose a gender-neutral name that would work either way. (Of course your daughter, being far more knowledgeable in these matters than you, has already declared the cat's sex and insists on calling it Princess Sparkle. You hastily assert your power of veto.) The name will change every day, if not every hour. Someone will say that you ought to wait for the cat's personality to develop before you name it. So far the only personality displayed has been the ability to disrupt your sleep pattern and turn every otherwise strong-minded adult so unfortunate as to come across her into a senseless blubber of baby-talk and monkey noises. (“Oo, who's an ickle baby den? Aw, she knows her mummy!”)
Time passes. Sometimes slowly, but it passes. The scrap of fur grows some legs and begins to get into everything. Cats are smart; you manage to teach her to jump off the table when she sees you coming into the room. This particular cat also has an identity crises: she tries to eat everything you do. In this case, popcorn and carrot peelings that fall on the floor. She shows an aversion to catnip and the expensive toys your spouse continues to shower on her, but is immediately captivated by the hanging ruffle on your best Sunday dress. You start locking the closets. Disappointed, your kitten takes her frustration out on the toilet paper, running up and down the hall with it whenever you have guests or in-laws to stay. She develops a tendency to whine when she doesn't get her way. Her eyes are very big, and she just sits and stares at you until you feel guilty/uncomfortable enough to give her what she wants.
She is now definitely a she, thanks to an hour and three hundred dollars at the vet. You daughter once again suggests Princess Sparkle; you once again veto it, even though the cat is showing signs of royalty. She's certainly a tyrant.
Fast forward. The cat is a full-grown beauty who won't let strangers touch her, but is happy to get gray hair on your black pants. She runs out to meet your car, then runs away again when the car doesn't stop soon enough for her taste. She bullies the other cat who shares her bowl mercilessly. She is convinced that she belongs indoor with the humans and the piles of clean laundry, despite her habit of dirt baths and the presence of poison ivy in her outdoor domain. She howls outside your door when you don't bring breakfast quickly enough. She's seven years old and has the temperament of an angelic two-year-old. Sometimes angelic and sometimes a two-year-old. She considers you very stupid, but kindly puts up with you. She is Her Majesty the Cat.

1 comment:

  1. Awww. Now you need a picture of her! Blogs are good for pictures, too!

    Should I feel privileged that she let me pet her on my last visit? Or do I not count as a stranger? (: