The Baby Cat Chronicles

ImageIt’s Sunday morning in my household. Things are typically prosaic. My people have the television on and a guy named Fareed Zakaria waxes politically eloquent. I’m not sure why they continue to watch these programs, for the male of the family gets quite exercised about “what Zakaria is missing in the debate.” The female, that person with whom Sophie (the other household cat) attaches herself in the most embarrassing manner, seems barely awake enough to care. My personal human is still sleeping, for she is a college student and it is summer and she doesn’t have to work today. Her need for long spells of sleep make her more like a cat than the rest of them, and that’s one reason I relate best to her.

My personal human coos, baby talks and stalks me for hugs and special moments. I tolerate her affections. I would slash and quarter the others should they think to do the same. I do make exceptions for “the treatment,” or butt pats. For this I’ll swallow pride, back up to whoever is brave enough to play master and supplicant, and rowl in ecstasy with my ears back. I should be embarrassed, I concede. But it is a pleasure I take, and given the indignities I endure in this home, I think it only fair to indulge in some delight when offered. But make no mistake. I’ll take this only so long. These interactions are on my terms and my terms alone. I’ve heard them say I sound like someone named Linda Blair in a film called the Exorcist. I don’t know of this Linda Blair. She must have been a beautiful tabby like me.

These people also say that my personality ranges from Zach Galifianakis’ character Alan in the Hangover to Jabba the Hut. Again, I’m a cat and have no experience with American cinema. I trust these are extraordinary characters with keen instincts and observation skills. Perhaps they, too, have piercing green eyes.

I have had a rather stress-ridden week. A black cat invaded my yard while I was out taking some sun in the cat mint the other day. This, of course, breeches all decorum. I screeched and yowled and fluffed my tail, but to no avail. By the end of the interchange, I found myself covered in urine. I ran to the sliding door, unsure just how uncivilized this cat might get. My person let me in. When my special person checked me for wounds she said, “Eeewww, she’s covered in cat pee!” Of course, I knew what that meant immediately and took cover behind a chair. These people are quite squeamish about urine, and I feared they’d attempt to bathe me.

I was, of course, correct in my assumptions. The female of the house was relentless in my pursuit and quick with a towel. She caught me and wrapped me up so I couldn’t slash her with my claws. They took me to the bathroom and started the shower. Now, when one has no natural defense available, one must resort to the only weapon left. So I urinated on the bathroom rug. Not a little, but a lot. Nevertheless, it took two of them to wrestle me onto the shower floor, hold me against my will, and scrub me from shoulder to tail tip with something called Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Body Wash. When they were done with this torture, they towel dried and let me go find a place to hide and regroup. My personal human eventually coaxed me back into the family’s mainstream with food and affection. I am truly a forgiving soul, a model of both absolution and humility.

There has been much activity in the household as of late. Strange people are coming and going, people called realtors leading perfect strangers through the house, commenting on the lovely kitchen and view, the tile in the bathrooms, the potential problem of having two bedrooms instead of three. Before these people come, my people leap into a frenzy of cleaning, no fingerprints left on the stainless steel appliances, no animal hair left anywhere on the floor, and God forbid any deposit should be left in my cat box.

I hear my people talk about why this is happening. Word is we are moving, and a part of that process will be a plane ride. I will be placed in a cat carrier and will ride below a seat in the cabin with them. In another cat carrier will be that kiss-ass, Sophie. And in the cargo hold will ride the dog. My humans are working with the rules of the airline that allow for only one pet in the cargo hold per flight, and that is reserved for the dog since she’s bigger. My humans are quite worried about my behavior on that day; they worry I will urinate (as I usually do) when I am pushed to the limit.

The female of the household seems to constantly ruminate on the dark possibilities of moving day. “First,” she says, “the doggie downers have to be given well ahead of time for Flick to calm down enough. But they’ll wear off during the flight, and she’ll be panicked.” She continues as she shakes her head, “Sophie will be okay as long as she’s with me, but Baby Cat. We’ll have to get her through TSA. What if she goes ape shit then?” She sighs. “And when we’re on the plane, if she pees, there we’ll be. Cat pee for everyone seated around us. Even if we clean up the cage and pad below her, she’ll still smell like cat pee. I just don’t know how we can take that cat on board!”

The male of the household says, “We’ll just give her downers and hope for the best.”

The female responds, “We’d better have some downers for everyone sitting around us. They’re going to need them more than the damn cat.”

Oh how little faith they have in me. My plan, of course, is to not pee in my cage, but to do so during the TSA full body scanner process. And that, my dear readers, is what is known as poetic justice.


Explaining Mitt Romney’s Dog Crime to my Border Collie

(I originally posted this on my previous blog Lame Duck on an Empty Nest back in January, 2012 during the Republican Primaries.)

It had been a fairly long Friday at school today. When I hit the door, Flick is at the top of the stairs with her little snarl-grin she gets for me, wiggling her entire body in the thrill of our reconnection. I’m just as thrilled to see her, and from the bottom of the stairs until the moment I reach her–my arms full of purse and grocery bags, in my usual doggie/kitty baby-voice I coo and say “Ooooh, my Flick, my cutest baby, my lover…how are you today? What a beautiful girl…what a good girl….oh hello to you, too.” The purse must be dropped and full affections must be delivered, not only to Flick but to my cat who swirls around my feet awaiting the same attention. Then comes the second cat squeaking out a raspy “rowl”. What a greeting! No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I’m fully uplifted by this furry welcome wagon. We all reconnect. Toys are brought and offered. There’s much excitement. Flick immediately goes out to the back yard for a bathroom journey but is just as quickly back on the deck wagging at the slider. She wants in. She wants to tell me something.

 She’s quite exercised. First, she runs to the bedroom and grabs Froggy, dropping it for me. Then she finds her tennis ball. I pet her and ask her why so energetic. “I’m not energetic, dramn it,” she answers as she sails through the kitchen.

 “No?” I say as I get ice cubes from the refrigerator. She hates the sound of ice cubes dropping in a glass, so she takes another circuit through the house. She runs back, grabs a bite of kibble, and then I know for sure she’s got something on her mind. She’s a nervous eater and tends to snack when she’s stressed. She chews kibble while she paces, and even though she scatters kibble throughout the house, I love this about her. Having gone through a half-rack of Oreos after a bad day a time or two in my life, I can relate.

 “Uh….Mom…is it true what I heard on the radio this morning?” she asks.

 “What?” I filled up my glass with water and took a drink.

  “Ya know, the gruy who wants to bre president that tried his dog to the roof of the car and drove across the crountry? (Chomp chomp)  Is thrat true?” She’s crunching kibbles the whole time she’s talking, so she’s a bit hard to understand. I take another drink before I answer.

 “Romney…well he’s a Republican.” Like that’s supposed to explain that behavior to a Border Collie.

 “Ya, Romney. Did thrat really happen?” Flick continues to pace and chomp, pace and chomp. She’s got kibble from one end of the kitchen to the other.

 “I’m afraid so,” I answer carefully. “But he didn’t just tie Seamus to the roof. Seamus was in his carrier, you know, his bedroom.” That was a bad enough image, but I didn’t want to scare her. I Frank Luntzed the hell out of it.

 “So rif he becromes president, rill dogs have to ride on the roofs of cars?” She’s rarely still, but she has stopped shortly when she asked this and looked at me with those big, brown doleful eyes. I reach down and rub her behind her ears.

 “Oh, Flick, beautiful girl. Of course not! You’ll always get to ride shotgun right next to Dad.”

 “Uh, Mike,” she corrected me. Flick continues to have some issues with the fact that I’m the alpha female. She’s so alpha it’s a wonder she didn’t drop a testicle. She grudgingly relinquished the role when we rescued her, and when Mike’s not around, Flick and I have a true sisterhood. But as soon as he gets home, she sometimes forgets and thinks she’s top female; she thinks she’s the wife. I look at her with love but directly in her eyes.

 “Dad,” I say firmly. She reaches back to sniff her “girl parts.” She does that for comfort in stressful situations, too. But she quickly refocused on the topic.

 “So, what about rother dogs. Will they have to ride on roofs if he’s president?”

 “No. Presidents can’t order dogs to ride on roofs. They can only invade other countries after lying about weapons of mass destruction and order people tortured. Dogs are safe.” I rubbed her head. She rolled over on the floor, attempting to keep her mind off the scary images in her head—the picture of being trapped in a vestibule on top of a car for 12 hours and shitting herself in that cold, scary wind tunnel. She closed her eyes as I rubbed her stomach. This should appease her, I thought. She rolled back up and shook. No luck.

 “But wrhy didn’t they ret Seamus ride in the car?” She had her teeth in this and wouldn’t let it go. I started rubbing her chest and then back again.

 “I don’t know, my good girl, my cutest girl. He’s an asshole. You don’t have to worry about it.”

 “But I am wrorried about it. You know me. I wrorry about shadows! I wrorry about the ice maker! I wrorry about big truck breaks. Now I have to wrorry about Mitt Romney putting rus dogs on roofs!” She ran to the back room and came back with her hedgehog and made it grunt and few times. I sat down, and she came and put her head in my lap.

 “But you’re safe, and you know you never have to worry about us putting you on a roof.” I rubbed her behind the ears, those soft ears.

 “But I’m a Border Collie! It’s my job to wrorry. I don’t have any sheep!” She stopped and nuzzled me, looking up at me. Then she softly said, “besides….I’ve been there…” I took a breath. She’s seen starvation, and when we got her, not only was she skin and bones but her pads were all worn completely down from running. This is a Border Collie with baggage.

“I know you have, girl. You’ve never talked about it.” She pulled away from me and made her way back to her bowl for another mouthful of kibbles and began more rapid, nervous pacing.

“I cran’t,” she said as she chomped.

“I know, girl. I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“You didn’t, Mom. I did.” She circled the couch as if herding it.

 “Flick, come here….you just need to come, lie down. I’ll make a fire. Lie here beside me and relax. It’s going to be okay. Romney won’t win anyway. He’s not even popular in his own political party let alone with the rest of the country. About 39% of the people in this country are owned by at least one dog. That disgusting story plus the fact that Romney’s a rich guy who’s responsible for outsourcing his own labor in his companies is going to prevent him from being a viable general election candidate.” Flick came and lay at my feet. She rolled over in a huff.

“I need to hear rit from Dad,” she said. I rolled my eyes.

“Yeah,” I said exhaling in that way I do when I love and am at the same time disgusted with a family member’s behavior. “I figured as much. We’ll talk to Dad when he gets home. He’ll tell you Romney has no more chance of winning the presidency than a Chihuahua has of becoming a good sheep dog.”  Flick closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled her stress and slept. I fear her dreams placed her in a doggie dystopia where the government required dogs to ride on roofs and each SUV on the freeway sported a shit stain down its back window with a bumper sticker that said Romney 2012. I just hope Flick asks my husband about what “man-on-dog Santorum” refers to. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t believe me if I told her.