I have been commissioned by a friend of mine (Vanessa) to take care of her cat while she's in Las Vegas for the week, probably gambling away her tuition money and drinking herself into the ground. I haven't had a pet since I was a child, so this is all new to me. The cat is called Isabelle, but I don't like that at all, so against Vanessa's specific instructions, I've been calling it Cattington. This was a specimen day in our short, sad, hectic life together - Saturday, 5th September 2009:
8.00 am - I wake up to my wrist being sandpapered by a cat-tongue. I pick the cat up and put it off the bed. It jumps on and starts sandpapering my hands again. I put a blanket over myself to create a barrier. However, when the blanket is over my hands, it can't tell that they're hands and thinks they're a target. It starts attacking and biting any part of the blanket that moves. I move around a lot when I'm in bed, but I try to stay as still as possible.
8.15 am - I look on the internet to see what a cat licking my arm means. While doing internet searches, the cat decides that the keyboard is where it now lives.
The last time I had animal trouble like this, a large dog was repeatedly humping my leg. I discovered this was dominance behaviour - the dog was asserting its status. Well, fuck that. I grabbed it one night and humped the shit out of it on the kitchen floor. I'm not taking any shit from a labrador. The guy who owns the dog thought it was hilarious, but it solved the problem. Completely. I wouldn't like to think that the cat sees me as lower in the hierarchy, given that it's essentially just the two of us here.
8.30 am - It's biting my notebooks. I have lots of notebooks beside the bed I use for writing in the middle of the night, but the cat has decided they're chew toys. I say 'No cat! They are not for biting!', to no avail. I physically push the cat away but it just saunters back, cool as a breeze, staring at me balefully, biting the notebooks.
9.00 am - The cat runs to the bathroom, complete with the jump start, as though someone had just fired a starter's pistol. Then it crouches on the rim of the toilet and starts drinking the water. As the water has bleach in it, that's not a good thing. I thought that its water bowl might be running low, so I check, but no - it's fine. It just prefers the water in the toilet, apparently. At least this problem is easily remedied by putting the seat down. The cat looks at me with a deep sense of betrayal. For the past thirty-three years, a legion of neurotic and unreasonable women have failed to convince me to put the toilet seat down, but a few days with the cat...
9.30 am - While posting about the stupid cat to a certain message board, the cat decides that the cursor is alive, and tries to attack my laptop screen. Several times. Every time I remove it from the keyboard, it gets more inventive about how to sneak back on there and deal with the Great Cursor Threat of 2009. It also manages to hit the button above my keyboard that turns off the machine. I am forced to use arcane keyboard shortcuts for the remainder of this posting session.
10.00 am - Perhaps a zero-tolerance policy is called for. I grab the cat, put it outside the bedroom and close the door. Disturbing sounds of crashing and ripping in the television room are soon replaced by whining outside the door. Lots of I'm-so-lonely type quiet mewling and gently pawing the door, as though it wouldn't be ripping my hands up with its dagger-tongue the first chance it got. However, I am stronger than that. I'm not going to let a crazy animal tell me what to do. The cat has to learn that I'm in charge and that's final!
10.03 am - I let the cat back in.
12:30 am - The cat has somehow picked up on the fact that I'll probably get into trouble if I lose it. Hence, it decides to play a game where if I'm not watching it constantly, it goes missing.
Example one: behind my Batman comics:
Example two: camouflaged among my Magic cards under the television:
2:00 pm - I decide to visit a friend of mine (Andrew). The cat doesn't seem happy that I'm leaving, but whatever.
2:03 pm - I start worrying about the cat while driving on the 60 freeway to Walnut. What if it runs out of food? What if it's not got enough water and it dries out? Wait! It's not my cat - I don't care what happens to the stupid furball. What if it gets lonely? No! Any positive feelings I have for the cat are just projections of my own feelings onto the cat, or transference of how I want others to treat me. That's just pathetic. It's the most insidious, selfish thing someone can do to himself - talk himself into getting attached to an animal that can't even talk back to you. One cat is much the same as another - feeling anything about one in particular is insanity. Right. Glad I have that sorted.
2:07 pm - Oh shit. This is terrible. He's not going to have anyone to play with him for HOURS! This was a bad idea. This was a terrible idea.
2:10 pm - Holy hell, what is it like having kids? It must be like this, but a million times worse, and none of the upsides, slender as they are.
7:00 pm - I come back from my friend's house, and the cat races to the door as though I were composed entirely of catnip. I am glad to see the cat too, but I manage to dial it down a bit.
7:30 pm - I go to the fridge to get some Coke. From two rooms away, the cat hears the sound of the fridge and sprints like crazy into the kitchen, leaping like a furry missile into the far corner of the lower shelf. It takes some effort to get it out again.
8:30 pm - Ever since my long absence today, the cat has adopted a strategy of following me everywhere. It's very subtle though - when I switch rooms it waits a few minutes and then just sort of appears in the same room, as though it were there all along. It even follows me to the bathroom, albeit in a more obvious fashion. Whenever I'm finished washing my hands, I open the door and it's RIGHT THERE, looking at me, and then looking down the hall, as if to say:
"Oh, hi. Fancy meeting you here. Actually, I was just saying to Elmer that- oh, he's gone. I'll just... hang on. Elmer! This is kind of embarrassing. He was here a moment ago."
Don't bullshit me, cat - there is no Elmer. I thought these things were supposed to be independent or something. I know guys suffering from total renal failure who are less attached to their dialysis than this cat is to me. And - I cannot stress this enough - it can't be because I'm particularly nice to it. I play with it a bit, and feed it and so on, but we're not holding hands walking down sun-drenched country lanes or anything. What the hell is going on?
10:00 pm - I have resigned myself to the fact that the cat is adorable. I might as well just throw my balls into the dumpster now, because clearly I have no need for them.
10:30 pm - Enquiries about the possibility of buying a cat that looks like Cattington and switching collars before Vanessa gets back are greeted with ridicule and disdain. You people - and you know who you are! - have no vision.
11:30 pm - I go to sleep, the cat's cue to kick into high gear. Although it's pitch dark, I imagine that I can actually hear the cat hopping off the ceiling, which would also explain the force with which it's landing on my bed every few minutes. I am filled with thoughts of dread and despair that I have to go through all this crap again tomorrow.
Fear and Loathing in America