Monday, November 11, 2013

My cat, the door licker*. (And other reasons he's an asshole.)

In the spring or maybe summer of 1999 (because after this long, who can remember?) I got a call from one of my very oldest and best friends. She had a cat that she, at the time, couldn't keep at her apartment because the landlord didn't allow pets. While she lived at that place, the cat lived at her parents' house. Sometime while it was there (or maybe before), it had gotten knocked up and at the time of the call, had had a litter of eight tiny kittens.

Eight tiny kittens that her mother was pissed about having in her house.

Eight tiny kittens that needed homes - like NOW.

Our conversation went something like this:

HER: "Hey, you want a cat?"

ME: "No."

HER: "They're free!"

ME: "No."

At the time, I was 21 and my life felt like I was riding on top of a hot air balloon. I was free to do pretty much whatever the hell I wanted, which was exhilarating and also slightly scary. For the first time in my life, I had a little money to spend and was *just* adult enough to be able to do things. The options were endless, and I remember realizing, "Oh my god. I can do WHATEVER. I. WANT." Which, you know, meant that I chose to come home on my lunch break from my full time office job and watch Days of Our Lives.


Three days later she called again.

HER: "Hey lady! We only have three kittens left - I know you want one!"

ME: "Um...NO."

HER: "Please?"

ME: "No thanks, dude."

My logic here was this: What if I wanted to pack up and go away for the weekend? Adults do that! What if I'm gone for a week on vacation? What if I have to travel for business? Who'd feed my cat? I obviously thought a lot of travel was in my future for some reason.

But because she had known me for so darned long, she knew that as a kid I had begged for a cat. Pleaded and argued with my parents the point that I needed a cat. I had felt, as the only girl in the family, that I deserved a cat. (A ten-year-old's logic, man. I didn't say it made sense.) I had badgered them for a cat for years, continually getting shot down because they were already stressed out with the four of us kids and our springer spaniel Casey.

I finally got one once. I had that cat for a total of about six weeks, but I loved the hell out of him. He was all gray and I'd named him Tabby. (Original, that I am.) When my parents' marriage finally fell apart, I think it was my mother's way of trying to do something nice for me when everything else was crap. The problem was, just like my friend, after the divorce we had to move, and the new landlord wasn't all too keen about having four little kids in his rental, let alone a cat. My mother had told me she sent it to live on my aunt's farm, which in my pre-adolescent heart break I accepted completely, not questioning how it got to the farm, a six hour drive away. (Who knows what really happened to that poor cat...)

She was damn persistent, my friend. Another day or so later she called again.

HER: "Dude. You should totally come pick up your cat."

ME: {sigh} "No."

HER: "I know you want it. He's all black and playful and you'll totally love him. Besides, I'm keeping his brother**. We'll have brother cats."

ME: {sigh} "Well, maybe I'll come look..."

And of course I went home with a little ball of black fur that I named Zeke.

Zeke is...original. I guess I should have figured that if I ended up with a pet I'd end up with one who refuses to fit into a mold of what's expected for a cat. If you're making a sandwich? He will beg for a piece of lunch meat. His favorite is salami. Pudding cups? All-time favorite. It doesn't matter to him that he will get chocolate pudding between his eyes, he will lick the inside of that cup until it shines. He's known to play fetch with his Angry Birds stuffed toy and when I come home at night he's always sitting at the door waiting for me.

As much as these quirky characteristics have made him a loving member of our family, he is also an asshole.

He learned, long ago, that one of the most effective ways to get his owner's attention was to lick a hollow door.

Pretty much any piece of wood will do -- a cat's rough tongue will make quite a bit of noise on any wooden surface -- but the loudest sounds, by far, are made when licking a hollow bedroom door.

And they sound best at 4:30 in the morning when he wants to be fed.

Now, to be fair, somewhere along the line my pleading and mental threats*** must have worked, because in all honesty he only busts this one out every once in awhile.

Like last night.

Yesterday was an extremely long day and after my kids were in bed at 8:30, I found my house was quiet and tidy (enough) and I decided any remaining chores could wait for another day. I had a killer headache and I was freezing, so I put on my coziest sweatpants and burrowed under my fluffy down comforter and set the morning alarm for a bit later than usual, just to get a few extra winks -- maybe kick this darned headache to the curb.

I don't know about you, but for some reason, Sunday nights are the hardest for me to shut my brain off and go to sleep. I don't typically feel stressed out on Sunday nights, and never seem to have this problem on any other night. I don't consciously contemplate all of the events I have going on that week, or worry about all the things I have to bring with me when I leave the house the next morning. But somehow, when I'm near that in-between state of awake and asleep, when my mind starts to drift, that's all I think about. Things I know I have to do (because I do them all the time) will pop up in my head, like, "Don't forget to sign the boys' assignment notebooks for school!" or "Don't forget to pack their lunches!"

Well, duh. I know how that shit goes. I'm not new for God's sake.

But my brain doesn't listen and keeps right on listing crap out for me to not forget.

Finally. Finally. Finallyfinallyfinally last night my brain starts to shut down. I can feel the stress leaving my body. I can feel the muscles in my face and neck start to relax, and with them, my headache starting to ebb. My feet, in my favorite cozy socks, are finally warm enough for sleep to be possible.

And then...

...the noise all cat owners know and all cat owners DREAD.



I whipped upright from my state of semi-slumber, frantically searching the dark for my black cat.


I found his retching little body on the opposite corner from my feet. Again, not your typical "sleep on your face" type cat, he simply can't conform and must sleep (and hork) in the most inconvenient and hard to reach place possible.


I picked him up and tried carrying him to the door of my room.

Only in my attempt to be warm and also curl up into the fetal position and somehow make my headache better, I had wrapped my giant comforter around me, and it was coming along for the ride.


I had to drop the poor cat when the open end of the duvet cover, the end that buttons closed, got caught on the post on the foot board of my bed.

As soon as his paws touched carpet, he threw up more food than I believe it's possible for a cat to eat. (Not to mention what looked like more than I'd fed him that entire day.)



Damn you cat. You so totally suck.

So, you know, fast forward twenty minutes or so, after I clean up hot cat puke, spray the carpet with carpet cleaner, wait for it to soak in, then scrub the carpet again. I've then scrubbed my hands with soap and climbed back into my warm cozy bed, willing my brain not to be on full-blast mode so that I have to start the "get ready to really sleep" process all over again.

What do you know, but my bastard brain won't listen to reason.

Again, I lie there, head pounding, brain running on all cylinders. I try to quiet my mind, imagining myself floating on an inner tube on a lake in the sun. I try to imagine the sun on my face, a gentle breeze in my hair. I try to remember doing that very thing just a few short months ago.

It started to work. I felt the stress leaving my body...the muscles in my face and neck headache started to memories of lake floating becoming the start of a peaceful dream...


Cat, you are an asshole.

*No, that is not a euphamism.
**She named hers Dopey and I actually did bring my cat over to her place once so that the "brother cats" could have a play date. I think they pretty much looked at each other, yawned and lay down to go to sleep. Ten feet away from one another.
***mental threat = one sent by telepathic means, so as to bypass any English-to-cat-language translation barrier

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh man. After reading the first part of your post, I was ready to get a cat for the girls. Like, all of a sudden I loved cats and NEEDED a cat for the girls and it's all thanks to Colleen.

And then I read hot cat puke and I am back to being okay with not having a cat ;)