Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Just One Reason I Am Not A Cat Person

I am not what you'd call a cat person.

It's not the old excuse that they're aloof, or that they poo in a box indoors, or that they scratch up the furniture. It's not hairballs or unprovoked extended-claw pounces from around corners, or even allergies. I don't particularly want a cat because cats are biologically unable to distinguish between that which is alive, and that which is dead. Also, cats develop romantic attachments to other cats, similarly unencumbered by the ability to determine presence of life, and enamored cats like to bear gifts.

Now if a cat were to try to impress me with a bottle of wine, if some horny tomcat in the neighborhood wanted to ask for my cat's, err, paw in mating with, say, a lovely flower arrangement, I would have no problem. But no, it's always something disgusting, usually a mouse in some state of decay. But even that isn't the worst possibility. No, the worst is what I was given, long ago, by a little furry suitor of my pet's.

A little backstory here. I was nineteen, working second shift, and living with my father. My father's attitude toward home repair was not to fix anything unless it specifically inconvenienced him. So when our cat, Pixel, attempted to let itself into the house one afternoon by running and leaping headlong through the porch screen, he left the hole there for her further use. Also, to cut down on air conditioning costs, he would turn off the unit and leave the back door open when he went to work at 4:30 a.m. This never really bothered me, since we lived in a pretty safe neighborhood, so I never asked him not to leave the back door open while I, his teenage daughter, slept peacefully until noon.

Anyway, back to the cat. Pixel had eyes for a neighborhood stray. Obviously the stray had once been a pet, as he had no problem with walking up to my father and I, rubbing against our legs and tangling himself in our ankles should we attempt to go inside. He would even follow Pixel in through the hole in the screen, but had never ventured through the door into the house proper. He was a polite, or vampiric, sort who would not enter unless invited. We approved of their union.

So one day, as I was snoozing peacefully, I heard a screech. Not a scream, not any sound I had ever heard before (or since for that matter), but a screech. I woke up and glanced around the room in time to see a vague blackish blur race under my bed. Under the head of my bed. Under my head! I grabbed my glasses, put them on, and gingerly bent to peer under the bed, imagining all the time a cacophony of voices yelling "Don't look under the bed!" like every horror movie audience since silent films. And under there I saw, quite clearly despite being upside down, what I can only describe as some avian demon rushing toward my face, screeching at the top of it's little bitty lungs.

I bolted upright and glanced at the doorway, in the general direction of a hissing that had, up to then, been drowned out by the death squawk of a mangled sparrow. The boyfriend cat was crouched, hackles up, tail fat, ready to pounce. I jumped out of the bed and rushed the door, frightening the cat into running through the kitchen, out the open back door, and through the cat-hole in the screen. However, having been awakened from deep slumber by a Sylvester and Tweety reenactment, I was not at this point thinking clearly. I DID have the foresight to shut the bird in my room, but not to grab any clothes on my high-stepped flight from the bed. I quickly summed up the situation. I had a possibly rabid definitely defensive bird trapped in my bedroom, I was too cowardly to do anything about it, and I was naked. I did what any logical nineteen year old girl would have done. I called my ex-boyfriend and told him there was an angry attack bird under my bed and would he please be so kind as to come rid me of it. He would? Great, I'd be waiting for him naked in the kitchen.

Whyever would he have doubted my sincerity?

Despite his unfounded doubts, he showed up a few minutes later, and I told him the entire sordid tale while leading him to the bedroom. I had had enough time between the call and his arrival to piece together what must have happened before the bird got to my room that day. A trail of feathers led throughout the house, with a noticeable larger grouping in the living room. I figured this was where the bird had regained consciousness, since I doubt the cat drug it struggling through the porch screen to impress me and/or Pixel, and began the merry chase which ended with me being forced out of my bed at the crack of noon.

As my ex surveyed my room and found no bird, I was faced with a new fear. What if he couldn't find it? What if he decided I'd simply called him as a pathetic attempt to seduce him and win him back, and he left? What would he think of me? What would he tell people? Who then would get rid of the bird?! I had to join the hunt.

After looking everywhere, behind each shoe in the closet, under the dresser, in all the corners, I moved a chair out from against the wall, and heard the screech. I jumped three feet back into the wall while my hero of choice threw MY FAVORITE bedspread over the bird, carried it outside, and set it gently on the ground. I thanked him, sent him off, and took a loooong hot shower to wipe the fear of bird germs off me.

After Pixel ran off with her Romeo a few months later, I never got another cat. I never wanted another cat. Dead mice laid at my feet are bad enough, but the thought of one more maimed bird rushing my face in the morning is enough to keep me from ever being a cat owner again. Ever.


Anonymous said...

I got four cats you can pick from. Although if I were you, I wouldn't choose the Mighty Hunter, who pulled on me the same trick you describe in this entry (ie, dragging a live bird into the house).

Anonymous said...

Er, that was your cousin writing.