I asked my cat this morning if he was excited to go and have his boy-parts chopped off next weekend. Predictably, he did not respond, but sat tense in my embrace, pushing against my chest with his two small front paws like he had better things to do than discuss inhumane elective surgery. Jumping down to the floor when I released him, he sat cleaning those paws, as though doing his best to forget the inevitable event that was closing in on him. “Besides,” I said, “It’s for your good. We wouldn’t want you having babies and having to stay up with them screaming all night.” He was nonplussed. “Or, worse,” I said, “Becoming like Uncle Shane and getting some mama-cat preggers and running off on her. I won’t have dirt bag dads living in my house.” Again, the cat was silent.
He doesn’t talk much in general. When I’m clipping his nails (to avoid the cruel practice of de-clawing, which I opt out of more for the expense than the animal-PCism) in the bathroom, he gives me a fair earful of plaintive feline wails, of course. Once, he even hissed at me, full on pulling back his soft muzzle to reveal diamond-like shards of baby teeth, as though proving he was part and parcel of that same family of flea-bitten unfriendly strays I found in the window-well and called the SPCA on. But an earful of “No! Bad kitty!” and cuffs on his small head seems to have gotten across the message that backtalk of any kind is unacceptable with this mom, especially when she is cradling a two pound bristling ball of claws in naked arms just before a shower. Yes… I beat my kitty. I know, I know. Bad for his self-esteem. But I don’t see how cats have all that much use for a high self-esteem anyway. They’re born cocky, and could use to come down a notch in my opinion. And he still comes trotting back every time he’s swatted, conveniently forgetting that the same hand that softly strokes his downy underbelly is the one that slapped him off the dining room table five minutes ago. Cats are masters at the art of forgive and forget, as they are at climbing, stalking, and neatly trussing up small dead things as party favors.
I get sad when I think of his family. Of Mama Cat, escaping from that cardboard box where all her babies were stored, shooting across our apartment in the middle of the night and prying the screen-door open, jumping off the first floor balcony and orphaning her children as she streaked away into the night. Of Bean, sole healthy child among a litter of upper-respiratory infected angry little hissers. Of what the SPCA probably did with a bunch of little kittens who were born unhealthy anyway. But my baby was saved, and that’s a small good deed. Not a shot in him yet, yet he’s as healthy as a November wind. And just as fast, imitating his mom in manic streaks across our apartment, leaping out from behind the coffee table as I pass and ricocheting off my shins, proclaiming his proud “Rowr!” to the world.
My cat is psychotic. He fits in well here.