My cat Xena is the best cat in the whole wide world. The little snuggle wuggums. He is so, so cute wif his little stripes and sharp widdle claws and teethies. And the way he will shred your hand if you so much as touch his soft, soft wittle tummy tum. And its so funny that if I don’t have a little can of his favorite wet food (not the cheap stuff, not salmon, tuna a rice he likes best) he will run up the stairs ahead of me and grab my ankles near the top and try to trip me. Bastard.
Xena is a boy. He has a girls name. Its my fault really. He was a stray or a barn cat who appeared at our door and wouldn’t let me near him. He would accept food and hand crafted shelter from the elements, but until the winter winds blew, he just hissed and me and growled. Day one of sub zero temps and he waltzed in the house as if he owned the place. We had named him Xena because he would leap in the air through the long grass chasing birds and flying insects and he reminded us of the TV show character. By the time we discovered he was a boy the name had stuck. We tried Xenu for a while but gave up a few days later.
Its been seven years on and he is still around and is a big suck when he isn’t trying to kill me, isn’t rushing out of the bushes late at night when I come home from the gym or soccer to run between my legs or is doing what he does best: killing other denizens of our two acres of forest.
Like most cats, he kills mice, rats, chipmunks (little lawn wrecking jerks) though sadly he stays away from my nemesis, squirrels. He has over the years brought me some odd things as well such as an adult rabbit and all of its babies, a large woodpecker, two indigo buntings (!), a baby milk snake (alive, released after), frogs and two flying squirrels. Note, if you THROW a flying squirrel, even in death its arms will spread and it will zoom like a Frisbee ™ through the air. One year, he was hit by a car. He took a large portion of a winter to heal and as soon as spring arrived he was out again, bringing me a total of one hundred and eighty dead beasties. He is a killing machine.
I have for the record always had cats. I cannot remember a time of more than a few months in my entire life that I did not possess at least one feline companion. We (they and I) understand one another. We (they and I) are similar in nature as are most cat owners. Quiet, solitary at times, ponderous thinkers, not the most loyal when it suits us best, light sleepers, generally awesome. Also, like they, we (I) also are not the most fond of dogs. I have personally owned dogs, never of my own choice, three times in my life. Twice my father purchased a puppy for me which I never really wanted as he thought “every boy should have a dog” which was completely insane as he never owned a dog himself apart from a Yorkshire terrier named Duchess that my mother and he had for a year or three. I of course walked it, even though I would rather have set it free in the sewer to live with its kin. Once an ex and I purchased a half Lab half Alsatian that I kept in a garage mostly when it wasnt tied up outside. I was terrified of the damn thing as time wore on. It was angry, probably as I kept the stupid thing in a garage most of the time. Not a “lap” dog, more a “tear out your throat” dog. Nowadays I tolerate them, they being semi-intelligent pack animals craving attention if not an early death and escape from their mindless affectionate servitude, not unlike some humans I have met.
In recent years, my wife has taken to thinking I am dying. I am a klutz at times. I walk into things. I trip over things. I bang my head on things. I tend to not turn lights on at night and as a result on a few occasions I have walked into things and she rears up with concern in her pitch-escalated voice yelling “Sean! Sean? What’s wrong!?” when I dramatically hit the floor rolling around clutching something in the dark. When I had my mid-evening peanut butter sandwich reflux caused breathing difficulty episode, she did the same thing, with reason. My jumping out of bed wheezing, running to bathroom, issuing a “…no!” when she screamed “are you okay Sean??!?” followed by a “..wait… yes…” when I realized I could breathe through my nose. That warranted concern. The occasional head bump on my son’s chin up bar, walking into a dresser, banging shin on end of bed, those are normal thinks klutzy people do. She needs to calm down.
How does this all tie together? Last week el gato went outside as usual. As usual, he came to the door and over the sound of the television I could hear a very muffled, mouth full of someone “mewfrweorow..” repeated at least thee times. I said “oh Christ I have to deal with a dead thing..” took an over large bite of toasted bagel and slunk off to the front door. I opened it with less care than usual. He has in recent times been a bit lazy and not finished off chipmunks who played dead till he walked away for a moment (I do wonder how many of them have been alive when I have thrown them 30 plus feet into the pine trees). He ran into the house and dropped a small, long tailed field mouse onto the kitchen floor. I issued my own muffled, mouth full of bagel “mewowwf! vvtupidcadbrodinffamewowwf..” then a bent down to get it and yellmumbled another “ifffuggingwlivedogfdamnfuffingcad!!!” as I grabbed a shoe and killed the zombie mouse that leapt up and started to run.
“Sean! Sean! Oh my god Sean!” came from behind me as she leapt off the couch. From her point of view, I was double over perhaps clutching my heart, the same heart I exercise five days a week at the gym and protect through diet and healthy lifestyle. Have I even mentioned how much insurance I have…?
When I stood, shoe in hand, confused, saying “what??” and turning back to pick up and toss outside the now flatter mouse she explained herself sounding angry. She then turned the conversation into one of even more anger and disgust that I murdered a single solitary mouse that was about to run free in our house. This even though the cat kills hundreds of things each year. But then again, he is a cat and she like me is a cat person and even though the thing murders left and right he is so cute and cuddwy. If dogs went out and brought their owners proportionally sized tribute such as racoons, lambs, the occasional orphan, people would be up in arms and rightly so. Cats though, they can do as they please. Cats are awesome. Except when they are trying to kill you. Bastards.