I looked at the black bastard as he sat growling at me inside the humane squirrel trap that was far too small for him to even turn around in. Why this feline jerk had decided to cram himself into it was beyond imagining as he being, well, a cat, I assumed, well, being a human who loves cats, that he wouldn’t be so stupid. But there he was. Wedged head first in an all too small for his general size squirrel trap, his whiskers smeared with peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. Again, I marveled at his stupidity as I pondered what went through his little mind when he approached the rectangular cube of steel wire that contained at the far end, well within smelling range, apples smeared with chunky pb.

I have always owned cats and have always had a good relationship with them. In fact, round about grade two I proclaimed to my parents and grandparents that I was going to marry JT, our little fat ten year old calico. There have been in my life only two cats I didn’t like, the aforementioned twit in my squirrel cage and Clipper, a twenty-year-old black as night evil bastard with three foot long claws that lived in my grandparents house. He would hide in their dark home in the most unexpected places round about child height and as you passed by, swing out his powerful though aged arm and slash you in the head. Many a time I went to school with bandaged scalp, forehead, shoulder, ear, and had to explain that evil in fact existed in the form of my Grandmother’s little monster. Usually I would be told that I should have just avoided him because “you know he’d going to get you if you aren’t looking” and through a form of Stockholm Syndrome assumed that it was of course an accurate statement. I knew he’d sit in the dark, century old home on top of shelves, in closets and on the edge of the stairs in wait. I knew of course that I should give him a wide berth even though if I did so, on my return trip, he’d be in a new location or would stalk me and seek me out in my grandparent’s connected tailor shop. I would go there on Saturday nights in the winter when my father had monopolized the television for two back to back hockey games, so I could watch British Comedies and Doctor Who. Sipping a coke, munching some chips in the dark, the music would rise to a crescendo as Tom Baker would round a corner. Just as he was about to come face to face with Cybermen, my ankles would be slashed or bit. Food would fly, I would scream and the embodiment of evil would slink off into the dark racks of clothing. He lived until he was in his twenties and died all of a sudden one night around Christmas not before emptying his bladder and bowels into a basket of unfolded laundry.

Clipper didn’t put me off cats, and I would like to think I learned from him something. Likely all that would be was a realization that you really don’t need to like everyone. You shouldn’t strive to be accepting of all others and skirt around those that cause you emotional pain. If you dislike someone that much, take the bull by the horns and thwack them when they aren’t looking. That and walking quietly. I’m pretty good at that.

Cats since then have been near to my heart. Rusty the very dopey Ginger, Suzie the fat over protective tabby who peed in the shoes of any girl I brought home, Zorro the stupid black and white drooler, Jello my late sister’s anorexic zombie that simply vanished one day INSIDE THE HOUSE. They all had a place in my little weird bubble. Ten years ago, Xena found me and adopted me. He is our current alpha-cat who is a prodigious hunter and who loves it when I or my kids are outdoors. He follows us around, sits by the bonfire, goes for walks and generally thinks he is human. A year ago, my eldest gave us a new black and white stupid cat that goes by the name of Hokkudo but we just call him Fat Cat. When he arrived he was a whiny skittish blob and a year later he is fit and irritating. His whininess is now made more evident as he runs around like a horse, cantering sideways, banging into things, generally being oafish, with his new found mobility. I am assuming my son is not taking him back so we’d adopted him as one of the family, though in reality he is the crazy fat uncle who we keep in the basement.

Xena and Fat Cat do not like one another. Sometimes in the middle of the night, one tries to share a bed end with the other and it becomes WWE in the darkness as I try to throw something at them that I won’t want returned a few minutes later (i.e. not a pillow) and won’t make a mess (i.e. a glass of water). If they are outside and one sees the other spending too much time in my proximity, a growling match will erupt. The best altercation I can relay occurred last week when I took Xena into the bathroom so I could extract a tick from his neck. It wasn’t easy and he was growling with increasing intensity as I attempted to safely remove the disgusting thing from his person. Finally, after a solid five minutes of angry howling and threats to break our ten year peace with violence, I had the alien parasite in my tweezers and opened the door to let him blow off steam elsewhere. Fat Cat, attracted by the noise, wa right there. Boom. It was as if two wind up toys were dropped in a cardboard box together. I had shut the door when I released Xena so I could flush away the Tick and heard the snarling and hissing over the sound of the water. I threw open the door and saw a mess of cats. They were intertwined in toothy, clawey death grips, swirling and spinning as they yelled and bit and dug one another. I yelled at them to no effect as I noted an almost perfect white circle of Fat Cat’s fur surrounding the two of them. I stomped my foot and they finally split apart. One went outside to kill something whilst the other ran upstairs to claim his bed for the night. Memories of Clipper prevented me from consoling either.

And so I looked at the cat in the cage. The Jerk who tried to eat apples and peanut butter. I remembered that this was the bastard who had been terrorizing my two cats, driving them up trees, waking me up at night with his yowling. I picked up the cage by the handle and pondered him, that he was only a cat, even if he was a jerk, and walked him to the front yard to let him go. He ran off and vanished into the dark, returning a few more times to wreak havoc before I saw him dead on the highway a month or so later. I’m sure it’s the toxoplasmosis speaking when I say that even jerk cats are still better than dogs.

I have to remember that Xena asked for Duck Pate this morning.

All hail cats.

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