Someone once said “To dogs you are family, to cats you are staff…”
The girls and I were playing in the front yard – always a questionable activity in our neighborhood, when my 2 year old chased our cat into the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor lady came huffing out onto her stoop in alarm.
“Don’t touch that cat!” she gasped then, seeing me, calmed. “Don’t let your girls pet that cat,” she warned, “it’s vicious. It has these really big, sharp fangs!” At which point she used her fingers to illustrate fangs for me. As though fangs were a foreign concept. Or cats having them.
“Yeah, she can be a little bitey,” I commiserated, politely. In truth, Caramia is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever known, and she is eternally patient with our two overzealous children. But still, she IS a cat, so she can be a little bitey. And sometimes eviseratey.
“My friend tried to pick her up and she twisted around and attacked her!” the lady continued, eyes wide and hands in claws, mimicking the attack. My sweet, fluffy white cat was beginning to sound a bit like the killer rabbit of Caerbannog. The villain sprawled on the lawn, the picture of feline innocence.
“I’m…sorry?” I said. But what I was thinking, was, who picks up a cat!? Especially a strange cat! Cats are made out of pointy bits and contempt, all barely concealed beneath a layer of fur. Why would you pick that up? She’s MY cat and even I don’t pick her up. If I want a little cat love I just sit somewhere comfortable and try to use my laptop. Isn’t that how it’s done?
In truth, I’ve never known an animal that appreciated being picked up. I mean, dogs are basically balls of affection and even they fake seizures when you try to foist them. Growing up, my brother always had snakes; he would pretend they were friends and the snakes would pretend his fingers were mice. Talk about bitey. And parrots! Are you kidding me? I have scars. We all have scars. Animals don’t like us as much as we think they do.
“She’s actually good with the kids,” I said, feeling the need to explain my housing of a furry psychopath.
The neighbor lady looked at me, her expression akin to a that of a cat that had just been picked up. “Is it yours?”
I looked at my two girls pouncing on my vicious ball of fluff, oblivious to their imminent danger. “Yeah,” I admitted, “they’re all mine.”
“Oh,” she said. “I’ve been feeding her. I didn’t know she was yours.”
“Yeah, she’s mine. She has a collar,” I pointed out. I did not point out that I’ve lived next door to her for six years, along with my cat. Or that my cat is fourteen pounds of belly and, apparently, terror, and very much NOT starving to death in the streets. “That explains why her diet’s not working,” I added with a smile.
It also explains the diarrhea and the 400 goddamn bucks I just spent at the vet because my cat “wasn’t eating.” Or the judgey looks from the vet when he weighed her.
I should send her a bill.
Then again, I suppose I’m saving a bundle on cat food.