May 01, 2010

There is a fire in my soul since you turned off the TV.

It’s May Day. This morning, President Obama gave a speech about a mile from my house. Starting tonight, there is a smoking ban in effect for all Ann Arbor businesses. All day at work, we played host to a charity gaming event, and last night it thunderstormed for the first time this year.

But we can’t talk about that, because we have to talk about my cat.

Lucy likes her independence, naps in the sunshine, and your tacit understanding that all chairs belong to her. She does not like to be held. She will tolerate it for short periods, but will eventually squirm free when you appear happy. The only toy she ever liked or played with more than twice is a laser pointer, which she chooses to believe does not originate from your hand, but is a mystical creature that appears to haunt her, Gazoo-like, at its whim. She will move faster than she ever has in her 15 years of life if The Dot circles a doorknob.

Lucy is the reason why, when people tell me they love cats, I ask if they have any. I never met these aberrations to the species—the ones that come when you call them, snuggle with you when you sleep, sit next to you on the sofa. If you think you have one of these cats, you may want to run a Goggle image search for “dog.” Cats are not mean; they’re merely indifferent. You can feed them, love them, kick them, hate them, take them, leave them, fall over dead in front of them; their expressions won’t change. Except, of course, when you do something they don’t like.

My cat, for all she is emotionally retarded, is at least well-behaved. She has never protested by doing anything outside her litter box that is meant to remain inside, most likely because she is no dummy and realizes our relationship is based less on love than a mutual understanding. This understanding consists of two parts: that I am a dog person who made a lifetime commitment to a cat, and that “life” and “time” is a negotiable compound word. So when she has an objection, she raises it much like a toddler.

Mrow.
Mroow.
Meeeew. Mrrrrrow.
Mrow. Mrow. Mrowr. Mrow. Mrow. […]

This is not a cute meow--this is the cat equivalent of a swan song. You’d think someone had taken her kittens, or perhaps her right paw, instead of, say, shut the door to her bedroom. Or turned off a light. Sat down on the couch. Made a sandwich. Rolled out the yoga mat. Used the word “pickles.” Farted. Answered the phone.

It’s the last that gets to me, because during the rare instances when she is dormant, my phone will ring and I will try to answer it quietly, like I am at the diabolical whim of a napping baby.

Mrow.
Me: “It’s not for you.”
Mom: “Is that Lucy?”
Me: “You’re not seriously--”
Mom: “Hi Lucy!”
MROW!

Remember, this is a cat that does not like people. She sees the humans in her house as invaders into her own personal fortress of solitude. And yet, the moment we all go to sleep, the second three doors close for the night, the most desolate, despondent MRRRROWW will bounce off the walls with the heart-wrenching certainty that nothing a cat ever loved will be put right again. It is a cry that has one setting: despair of a thousand weeping mothers, and it’s on eleven in my uncarpeted hallway.

It is here that I yank open the door and tell her what all mothers tell their whining children: kid, you have no reason to cry. How much better could her life be? Perhaps a slideshow of starving cats in Somalia would… have no effect whatsoever, other than making me calculate shipping costs. Pointing her head out the window at luckless strays? Apparently there are even a number of things indoor cats can still contract, despite being the most sheltered beings on the planet. Did you know that kitty Chlamydia is spread through the eyes? Now you do. And since you can’t un-know that, you will have dreams about your cat starring in the Lifetime movie version of A Cat Wastes Away because that one time she got outside she may have given the neighbor’s tomcat butterfly kisses.

Which, let me just say: fifteen. There are worse ways to go. Am I annoyed that the current method of feline silence involves more kibble, whipped cream, or a pat of butter? Sure, but I’m not angry. Given the number of things that could be eating / attacking my cat (through the eye, for chrissakes), I think a kitty coronary is one of the kinder ways to go. It’s hard to impose a diet on a being who can’t read, vote, work the clicker, or type. I know if I f I were illiterate, unemployed, six inches tall and 105 years old, death by butter would be an entirely reasonable ticket to Jesus. Hell, it seems like the only real option.

Ma-rrrraow!

Oh, hi. Are you awake? Is that what that means? Would you like to sit just six inches away from me and have me not touch you?

Mrow!

Wonderful.

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