|Casper, in a characteristic setting.|
No, I do not like cats.
There, I said it.
In my defense, cats do not like me. Though that is nothing special; cats don't seem to like anybody, as far as I can tell. Oh, some people think their cats like them. But they're wrong.
So, yes, I do not like them in return. Never have.
Which is odd for a man who has been living with cats continually for more than 30 years.
My wife, however, loves cats. And I love her—happy Mother's Day, honey! Hence the cats.
First Anna and Vronsky, the two cats my wife-to-be adopted at the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society—or as we called it, "The Cruelty Society."
We had them for nearly 20 years. Proof that this is not a stressful environment for the cats, my attitudes notwithstanding. It isn't as if they can read my mind. Okay, they probably can, but they don't care. Not caring is a basic feline trait. While me, I have to care. And feed and pay for all their special scientific urinary tract kibble and little boutique baglets of treats and occasional cat toys and frequent visits to the vet.
For which they are grateful not at all.
I even make a stab at delivering an occasional stroke or pat or whatever you're supposed to do with cats. I try to say something encouraging. "Hello there, Mr. ... ah .... cat." A cheery thought. Anna could chase a string—the elastic gold cord from a Marshall Field's gift box. I remember pulling the cord back, firing it across the room, and allowing Anna to dutifully retrieve it. So there I was, playing with the cat. What else do they—or you—want?
Anna and Vronsky gave way to Natasha and Gizmo, our current cats. Both quite old now themselves. The cat population leapt by 50 percent at the end of March with the addition of Casper, seen in a characteristic moment above. Our younger son's kitten, purchased, I believe, because ... well, I have no idea. To spite us.
At least Gizmo and Natasha are old. They spend 23 and a half hours a day on our bed. Which I suppose makes it their bed. They do let us slip into the spaces where they're not, which is kind of them. Casper is constantly bolting around the house, racing across the floor, up the walls. There'll be a crash—such as a potted plant sprayed across the oriental rug. If I tried that, the pot would bounce. But shattering a sturdy raku pot is easy for a cat.
"Get the vacuum!" my wife cried to the younger boy—it is his cat, after all. And to his credit he slipped over to help, mostly through observation.
"And a burlap sack! And a weight!" I added, though nobody picked up on it.
|Natasha, wishing the man taking the photo would die on the spot.|
"Dad doesn't like the cats!" one son will say, smirking, with the next thought, "Damn him all to hell" not spoken aloud.
"Dad doesn't like the cats," the second boy will say, picking up the refrain, shaking his head, in mock or, heck, probably real disgust.
"I like the cats..." I lie, wanly.
Or try to, anyway. It is not always easy. Okay, it's never easy. Trying to like them only sets the stage for even greater dislike. When my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, usually on a stand in the dining room, for ease in consultation during Scrabble, Bananagrams, and other word games, was carelessly left open on the dining room table by my older son, and Natasha perched possessively upon it, staring at me intently, almost daring me to do something about it, which I was too smart to do. I neither reprimanded my son, nor shooed the cat off its pages—a mistake, as subsequent events would demonstrate. She looked handsome there, scholarly, in a hateful kind of way, and I took a photograph, just to show that I can get into the spirit of the thing. Cats! God's creatures and man's friend.
Shortly after this picture was taken, the cat threw up—by accident, one assumes, though I wouldn't put anything past them—directly onto the dictionary. My wife tried to clean it best she could but ... well, lets say the episode will be plain to anybody consulting Volume II of the Shorter Oxford. I don't see why, when I say, "I do not like cats" that should reflect poorly upon myself. The general reaction should be, "Why you poor man! Those awful cats must have done terrible things for a kind soul such as yourself to dislike them." But nobody says that. I am alone in my own house, outnumbered, six to one.
"The dog too!" my family pointed out, in unison.
Right. Make that seven to one.