Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is why some people aren't cat people.

When people find out that I have a cat, and ask me about the cat, I come right out and tell them that she is a mean, evil little thing who hates most everyone and will probably hate them too. But it's not personal or anything.

There are two things that happen at this point. People who hate cats will nod and accept this as proof of what they've been saying all along about cats. They might even put in a plug for their dog preference. People who like cats or even a few souls who adore living creatures in general will consider my cat a challenge they can overcome with their charms.

I love these people. They are so sweet, but so misguided.

An average misanthropic feline, which is a not inconsiderable number of them, will simply avoid people altogether. These are the famous cats that their owners "never see" but who seem to consume their food after everyone goes to bed. They hide in upstairs bedrooms when people come over. They get on top of tall cabinets and stare down, ignoring all the "here kitty kitty." The braver among this set might come out long enough to grab the treat you bribed them with before disappearing again. This is not abnormal cat behavior. It's annoying though, which is why there are people who don't like cats.

However, even a cat that doesn't like most people usually still likes some people, and there is a set of standard behaviors that cats may respond to. You sit (preferably in the living area where their owner normally is), you reach out your hand to them, you talk softly, you're patient, and if you're one of the few people around, even a shy cat will come out to investigate and might come by to deposit his scent on your hand or your purse. Cat people treat this as a victory, a reflection that they "know cats." Fair enough.

My cat is not like this. It's not just that she doesn't like people. She actively, aggressively, and vengefully hates people. Basically everyone in the world but me.

My cat has appeared out of nowhere in the middle of a social event we're holding to hiss at people. Just to hiss! No other apparent reason. And heaven help the poor person who tries to stick out a hand towards her. She scratches. Two parties ago she scratched me while I was trying to calm her down, and I was her third victim that night. I will never make that mistake again. I still have the scars.

If I'm petting her and she's tired of it, she'll bite me. Same for my husband, who is about the only other person in the world she tolerates. Doesn't just walk away, bites. Believe me I have tried to look for the signs that she'll do this. I've even tried stopping the petting before she gets tired of it. But inevitably she will nudge me for more attention until the exact moment she hates it and can bite me.

She likes to get my husband out of bed in the morning under the guise of needing breakfast. However, he will not be able to feed her and go back to bed, like one could even with dogs. She will harass the hell out my husband by poking him in the armpits. She developed this skill since my husband and I have lived together, since I'm a heavy sleeper and never used to wake up for her. She learned, late in life, the fine art of morning harassment.

If you have cats you might have seen them grabbing things with their front legs and kicking them with their back legs. If you replace that object in your mind with a bunny rabbit you realize that this is the act of eviscerating-- yes, literally tearing the guts out of the animal the cat has hunted down. Besides toys, my cat like to eviscerate pillows, our box spring, our couch, the chairs around our dining tables, boxes of tissues, and our feet when they are under the covers.

I could go on.

In light of all this you'd hope that a cat this, well, unpleasant, would at least have the decency to do the job cats were domesticated to do: kill pests. My husband and I love everything about our townhouse except the spiders, which I've decided are unavoidable considering all the trees around our house (and it's easier to say this than realize that our house might actually be infested with spiders, yay.) Periodically a spider will find its way on to the floor, at which point the cat will make it her best friend.

Yes, really. There is nothing in the world that our cat will treat with more gentleness and respect than a spider. She will sit and watch spiders all day. Occasionally she will reach out and give them a tender poke, as much encouragement as anything else. This floors my husband and I every time. We beg and plead for her to step on it, pounce on it, kill it deader than dead! At least to prove she has some shred of moxie that isn't simply for hating people. Alas, it's not to be. All spiders in our house die at the hands of people or of natural causes like old age or heart disease.

We've decided she does it out of spite, which would be just like her, so we've made a pact to act like it's OK that she buddies up to the local arachnids just to see if it will make her kill one just to rebel against us. We'll let you know how it goes.

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