3 Cats

3catsI live with 3 cats.

No, they’re not mine, although I am particularly fond of them. That’s just how I’ve always been. These fearless, furry, fleabag felines are just so cute and lovable, especially the way they’re fiercely independent at times while positively cloying at others.

It seems like I’ve always lived with cats. Or they’ve always lived with me. Sometimes I’m honestly not sure which is true and which is the lie. Perhaps I’ve always lived with them because they let me. They come into my life at the oddest of times and I get attached. I look into their little, expressive eyes, and my heart melts.

But they come with a severely skewed caveat, or two, or three. Because cats aren’t like dogs. They don’t go outside to get their business done, which is a major deal. Cats need litter boxes, and people assigned to clean them on a regular basis, and litter too. Litter that needs to be purchased again and again. And again.

Cats also need food. Some of them are addicted to the soft food in the little cans full of “juicy bits,” while others crunch for days on the dry food from out of the bag. And still some others eat both, whining when the bowl is empty, even if it’s the middle of the night.

Because cats are nocturnal, or if they aren’t then they’ve fooled me for 40 years. They laze around all day long, coming out at night like vampires to chase each other up and down the halls, and up and down the stairs, hissing and snarling like beasts in a cage ready to rip each other to shreds. They wake me from my precious dreams, thinking we are in the midst of the apocalypse when it is just a typical 2 AM romp.

I live with 3 cats, and each one is completely different from the others. 2 of them come and go as they please (so long as someone lets them out the door and in the door when it’s convenient for them). The other 1 stays in, even though he tries to get out when he thinks no one is paying him any mind. We are always paying him some kind of mind because we know he is shifty.

There are more cats out in the back room, but I don’t go there. I am content to pretend I live with only 3 cats, to watch these 3 sleep all day long in the patches of sunlight that are all too infrequent on this side of the house. I am just fine with cohabiting this space, in giving them their space unless they want to be near. Because I’m a cat myself, my personality meshing perfectly with theirs, living a kind of zen-like existence without the benefit of claws.

And that’s okay, because there are enough cats here who do have claws. 3, to be exact.


The Other Cleopatra

wpid-2014-06-26-19.01.17.jpg.jpegShe came into our lives clandestinely, as a sort of castoff from a lady who had too many to begin with. It was originally going to be a short stay. We already had another one, and we weren’t looking to expand our little army, but one look in her eyes and I know I was hooked. I had to have her, and I would have done anything to get her. Luckily for me my wife agreed, and she’s been living with us ever since. Of course in the time between then and now things have changed in our home. We had two kids, buried a dog, and just this past year she lost her older brother. But she’s still here, and she can really be a pain in the ass at times.

Her official name is Cleopatra Godden-Jones McManus, the result of a long nighttime conversation between me and my significant other. The Cleopatra was a gift from the gods, honestly. There was always just something about ancient Egypt that fascinated me, and as we began our conversation I just blurted it out, and my wife agreed without hesitation. The middle name was a bit of a trial, though, because I wanted her to have a typical, ironically American nickname, and Heidi was dying for a bit of a British moniker. So we split the difference and gave her a split-level, hyphemic, Godden-Jones. It was our gift to her.

I think she’s a pretty cat, and my wife thinks she’s pretty in a strange way, so we both think she’s pretty, at least I tell myself that. She has endeared herself to us despite her always kittenish ways — the constant night dashes, the clawing of the furniture — and she has survived the carnage of the pets, as I like to call it, motivated by hunger and with an affinity to find the worst possible places to have an upset stomach.

Because of how she came to us, I don’t know how old she is, but I like to think she’s ageless, or at least I fool myself into thinking that. When it was time to lay her brother to rest it was too difficult, and I know for her it will be the same, so I try not to think about it too much. But I do know she has to be getting up there, because we got her shortly after Lexi was born, and our oldest child is 9 now. It’s crazy to think about because she still looks pretty much the same. She’s always been a small cat, and no matter how much she eats she still hasn’t developed any kind of paunch. Maybe that’s the worst, though, because it helps me convince myself she will always be around.

So we make memories — nights spent with her head in our laps, the insane purring — and life goes on, life as a one-cat household. We’ve already said that she is our final pet. It’s just too emotional when they inevitably go. Which means all of those moments when we get upset at her for spitting up in random places are tempered by the thought that eventually there will be no pet to get upset with. Until then we will appreciate her for what she is — not for what she isn’t — a good cat. Our good cat. And Cleo is her name.


Meow Mixers vs. Snausage Lovers

Have you looked at your dog lately, or any dog for that matter? The moment you open the door they’re on you like a slingshot, slobber and drool all over you and anything else in proximity (yes, slobber and drool are two separate things. Email me and I’ll explain privately). They knock you down, so you’re on their level, and they drown you with the affection they feel you deserve (or it’s relief that you haven’t left them to die, which is what their little brains think every time you leave the house). Every single time you come home.

“they’re on you like a slingshot, slobber and drool all over…”

On the other hand… when was the last time you saw your feline, cat owners? Or, should I say, when was the last time your feline saw you (you know they see us more than we see them, right?)? Of course, the word “owner” is also a misnomer, as any cat enthusiast will tell you. They call the shots much more than we do. When you arrive home, sometimes your cat may meet you at the door, but the meeting isn’t nearly as suffocating as with a dog. In fact, a cat will generally only meet you at the door if one of its needs hasn’t been met as recently as it would have liked. Perhaps you didn’t fill the food dish as full as you should have, or the litter box is slightly ripe with the one tinkle your cat did this morning. Time to clean it out, your cat is telling you by the greeting at the door. And if you don’t see your cat at the door, that means either you did something right, or you’re just getting the cold shoulder, a standard greeting from cats everywhere.

In the immortal words of Sassy, from Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, “Cats rule and dogs drool.” No more is this apparent than in that initial door greeting/non-greeting I just outlined above. Did you know that there is a theory going around that pet owners are just like the pets they own? I mean, if you’re a dog person, your personality is just like a dog’s (no offense meant), or if you love cats, you’re just like one as well (no offense meant there either). Now, I’m not saying it’s true, but it’s definitely interesting to consider. For some, being outgoing and over-enthusiastic/emotional is a way of life. If their pen runs out of ink, they’re hysterical over it, and that’s okay. If you get home from work and they’ve been waiting for you, they want hugs and kisses the moment you walk in. But you’re different, reserved, only excited when you want to be, and thinking about whatever you’re going to do next, sometimes forgetting that other people even live with you unless you want something. Or it could expand to other aspects of your life. At work you’re climbing that ladder, always wanting to please others and show off. Or there are those cats who get to the top by being insular and only stepping out when they really need something from someone else. They’re fiercely independent, and this is admired by the people up top, because they too are cats.

Of course this doesn’t fit every single situation, but it’s interesting to consider. Think about the CEOs of companies, and most times they were the ones “Most Likely to Succeed” in their high school yearbooks, due to their drive to be the best, by themselves. Then they can sit in that corner office and lord it up over everyone else. Sound familiar? And yes, the dogs can climb pretty high too, but only by kissing ass and doing what’s expected of them by others. That thinking has a ceiling, though, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everyone was born to lead, and dog people know it. But they don’t want to lead. They just want to be happy when you get home. That’s enough for them. Oh yeah, and sleeping on your bed. Watch out. And don’t worry if you don’t fit one of the aforementioned paradigms. There’s room enough in this world for turtles, ferrets, and chickens too.


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