Saturday, January 9, 2010

On Cats

This is Mikey. He is one year old and enjoys television, though to be fair he mostly just watched cartoons. I wish I was kidding.
Aqua Teen seems to be his favorite.

I am undeniably a cat person.

Now this might be that I was raised around both dogs and cats, and though cats poop in your house they on the whole smell far better. They also are much lower maintenance, due chiefly to their independence. I am told that dogs have been domesticated for something like 20,000 years, while the best guess for cats is something like 5,000 years. The joke is that they really aren't even that domesticated as it stands. Worst case they've simply domesticated humans to shelter and feed them daily.

Jack London be damned, if you died in your sleep your dog wouldn't know what to do with himself. He's wait weeks trapped inside before eating your rotting corpse, if he got out he'd probably be picked up by another family quickly. Cats? If he can get outside he'll be feral instantly, hunting rodents for food and creeping on some cute little Persian Aristocat. If he can't get out, well he'll be eating you in a couple days and won't think a thing of it.

Basically, what I'm saying is cats are dicks.

But I love that. I respect that. We can smell our own, after all. My first cat experience would be my grandmother's cat, Misty, who was an adorable replacement for my mother's cat Spooky, who she grew up with and was 17 pounds of rippling, midnight black muscle and badassery. I am told Spooky was handled with tanned leather gloves by the vets–the kind used for Dobermans–and would often engage raccoons in single combat, winning. Misty, as far as I remember was a nice little girl and thus pretty boring.

MY cat was Milo, named for the titular feline in Milo and Otis. However my Milo was not the dim-witted, rambunctious scamp his orange namesake was. No, despite using his claws to climb our chimney up the vaulted ceiling and being willing to attack creatures forty times his size, Milo was a bit different. Firstly, he was black with a white chest and "boots" and the kind of evil, soul-raping eyes usually possessed by serial murderers. Milo grew into a thirteen pound devil that terrorized myself and my family and my friends for his entire life. We walked carefully around Milo. My friends frequently took the long walk to the living room in order to avoid him. I remember it fondly.

"Mrs. Zucker?" he'd bemoan.
"Yes, Dean?" my mother would reply.
"Is Milo going to attack me?"
"Well yeah, probably, Dean."

Ah, now that was a good conversation, especially considering Dean was 5'11" and 200 lbs when this conversation happened. And sure enough Dean took a step and Milo attacked his foot.

Milo was a complete and utter bastard, and our relationship only improved when we adopted young Obi, giving him someone to spar with on a daily basis. Obi, I convinced my mother, was technically short for "Obi-Wan Katnobi," and his vet charts will support this, but only recently have I revealed to her that Obi was originally an homage to Oberton Jones, the lovable super from Queen Latifah's '90s UPN sitcom Living Single. The point is, though, Milo had a young ragamuffin to run him ragged so he would relax more around us humans.

I have to admit however that I think what really improved our relationship was the day he realized I had grown to twice my original size and could now crush him. I mean literally crush him based solely on my size. It might be uncomfortable and I might sustain damage in the process, but Milo's little kitty brain recognized I could sit on him and kill him easily without bleeding too much.

After that there was some kind of bizarre respect between us. I'd grown substantially, I'd worked for a year as a vet assistant so I had the training and now there was less fear between us. We were aware of each other's capabilities, like old foes who have grown close over the years, warring generals fully capable of meeting civilly off the battlefield.

And in that was the key. I came to respect all Milo's cat-like qualities and he honestly respected my effort and understanding. Let me tell you, there is nothing more heartwarming and a little disconcerting as knowing you are unconditionally loved and respected by a cat if you're not the one feeding it. Cat's are dicks. They do not like people. Not the smart ones, at least. But surprisingly all cats like me now, especially the more dickish ones. They seem to get that I get them and am totally cool with their dickery.

Because they can smell their own.

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