The Cat Lady

December 13, 2009

I hadn’t planned on talking about Cats I Have Known on this blog. This blog has nothing to do with cats–unless I have a nifty little recipe for Tabby Fricassee–and yet, I’m going to talk about cats.

But now that I think of it, Tabby Fricassee doesn’t sound too bad, because that’s what I’m ready to do with Harryboy.

Harryboy was Awesome Stepkid R.’s consolation prize for enduring a move to a new city with his new Evil Stepmonster. R. was at an awkward stage and didn’t make friends easily; he was peevish and lonely those first few months. A dog was out of the question; I am highly allergic. I’d grown up with cats, and R. had a cat at his bio-Mom’s house, so we decided a cat was just the thing.

We chose Harryboy (true name: Harry Potter) at our local shelter and brought him home and, true to form, he put a smile on R.’s face. And I liked Harryboy fine until it became increasingly apparent to me that Harryboy thought he was a dog. He fetched. He met you as soon as you hit the door, running in excited little circles. He constantly begged for a warm lap and a scratch. He howled when the doorbell rang. He snuggled as close as possible to my butt as I was sleeping. In short: Harryboy was a needy little bastard.

Harryboy has never let me forget that he was my first baby, before I had babies. He’s gentle and tolerant of the girls, but the minute he gets me alone–BAMMO! That fuzz-faced lothario is practically humping my leg, crying for lovin.’

As if I didn’t get enough of that from my husband.

In fact, I think if Harryboy were a little higher on the evolutionary chain, he’d be on the phone with the Russian Mafia, plotting Hubs’ tragic and accidental demise. Harryboy has a jealousy problem. He is also a vindictive little shit.

The first time we left Harryboy for a weekend (yes, the neighbor kid came in and took care of his needs) he pissed in Hubs’ gym bag. In fact, he pisses on things a few times a year, just to show us who is boss. And those things are always things that my husband happens to own. He won’t touch an object that belongs to Miss D. or Miss M. or me. But hubs’ property? That shit’s got latrine written all over it.

But actually, I shouldn’t be so shocked that Harryboy is high maintenance. Growing up, we owned a cornucopia of cats, and they were all freakshows.

There was ScatCat, a huge beastazoid stray, who my parents had to get rid of because, riddled with *displacement rage*, he repeatedly tried to eat me once I began crawling.

Notice the affection my sister seems to have here for ScatCat. Coincidence? I think not.

My mother told Daddy to take him to the humane society, but instead, my father drove ScatCat out to a lovely little forest, several hours away, and hucked him into the wild. **Please, no animal activist lectures, here. This was 1970 and sure, it wasn’t the right thing to do, but ScatCat was so mean that nobody would have adopted his ass anyways.**

Alas, ScatCat had a wicked sense of direction. He showed up, battle-scarred and highly pissed, on our North Dakota porch a month later. So off to the shelter he went.

Lest you think that I was poor, helpless prey to all cats that crossed my path, I give you Crystal. We took Crystal after a neighbor found a litter of kittens in a field.

I’m pretty sure Crystal rued the day she fell into our hands. I didn’t have any friends that year and had far too much time to fritter away.

And there was poor Baxter, the cat I wheedled away from an old boyfriend. This boyfriend just plain couldn’t remember to buy cat food on a regular basis. So every few weeks, when Baxter was starving and there was no feline nourishment around, said boyfriend would make a peanut butter sandwich, hurl it into the center of the room and watch the carnage. Baxter was, when I got him, so old that he only had a tooth or two. And very, very, dire Kittycat Halitosis.

He was friendly, so visitors would approach him, but as soon as they got a whiff of the Bax-Man, they’d recoil and say, “Whadda Hell He Get Into?”

For a brief while, in my single years, there was Wallace, the cat with the death wish. Wallace, that suicidal whackjob, could not stop chewing electrical cords. He K.O.’ed 3 MacIntosh computer systems in a 6 month span. Needless to say, Wallace needed help, and I needed to quit worrying about extensive fire damage.

My favorite cat, growing up, was Shoelaces. Everyone loved Shoelaces. He was the George Clooney of felines; handsome, suave, charming. He flirted like he’d been born doing it–just look at him, sassing Gramma Rhetta.

That cat could work a grammar school playground like nobody’s business. Several times a week, Shoelaces would follow me to school, like Mary and her proverbial lamb. He’d shmooze his way around the schoolyard, and kids would obediently rummage in their lunchboxes, giving him the choicest morsels. Alas, one day, he disappeared on one of his forays, but for YEARS afterwards, neighborhood kids continued to ask, “Hey, has Shoelaces shown up yet?”

I miss him still, and although I know he isn’t with us anymore, I half expect him to someday saunter up the sidewalk, twinkle in his eye, as if to say, “I’d tell ya where I been, kid, but you’d never believe it.”

And back to Harryboy. As we sit here, with the Holiday Season of the Rodent rapidly approaching, I can only wonder what adventures we have in store. That quiet holiday I wanted this year? I’m thinking it’s not in the cards.

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