Confessions of a Cat Guy


2013-02-23 15.06.10

The B Monster

All of the evidence points to the fact that I am a Cat Guy. I carry around cat treats in my pockets, talk to my cat as though she were a small human, and read an interactive blog on cat care.

Moreover, I send pictures of cats, post pictures of my cat, and have watched enough cat gifs to fill a Plutonian year. When considering the things that are wrong with adults on the internet, I am so that guy.

People think that Cat People are naturals, raised to be Cat People. They imagine us as toddlers, our tiny legs wrapped in a patterned quilt, rocking back and forth on a rocking chair and feeding a platoon of felines tuna treats from our cardigan pockets.

This isn’t true, so while I might be a Cat Guy now, I wasn’t always.

Don’t get me wrong, I always liked cats. It’s just that they were always a little wary of me. And they weren’t wrong to be, either. Oh, I wasn’t one of those bad kids who hurt or tortured cats and then went on to eat humans or seek the GOP nomination. I always respected their agility and speed, their lack of morality in the face of fear and their peculiar brand of horrified self confidence. It’s just that they never seemed to trust me as a reasonable owner figure.

In fact, at a very early age it became clear that the animal world and I were not simpatico. Animals around me were forever dying or attacking. Frogs committed suicide by jumping out of my hand into nearby campfires; a hive of bees once set upon me in an unwarranted attack, forcing me to run home amid my own high-pitched wails. The clash of man and beast is not a new story.

Even the animal world that tried to stay out of my way had a rough time. I once tried to nurse a bird back to health, only to accidentally step on it. I once ran over a duck with my bicycle and, though it survived, he glared at me anytime I passed that particular pond. In what was clearly an act of aggression meant to result in physical harm, he once chased me into traffic. I called him Limpy.

Despite all the signals and evidence available concerning my traumatic relationship with both the domestic and wild animal world, our family always had pets. Well, me, my mom and siblings did. We had dogs and cats, and a suicidal rabbit who guarded the backyard. I had an unmatched aptitude at choosing hamsters who died of natural causes, as though I’d stumbled onto a litter of hamsters who all suffered from the same congenital heart disease.

Perhaps the only person in the house worse at being a pet owner was my dad. Oh, he thought pets were a great idea right up until the moment he had to care for or interact with one. His interest in pets was the beginning and the end. He loved the excitement of picking out a new pet, bringing it home, and giving it a name. It’ll be this. It’ll be that. When he got his last dog, he called an old neighbor out of the blue to tell her that he had decided to name the dog after her. The neighbor was noticeably confused by the news.

And then there’s the end. Though he is a humane man, my dad does seem to gear up for the melodrama involved in announcing a pet’s death. It was sort of like a family member, but not as bone-jarring as a human one. He puts on the somber face and delivers the news: We had to put the dog down. Sigh. Let it sink in. Did you see the Eagles game?

But everything in between the middle and end was clearly a hassle. Three days after bringing his last dog home, my dad completely forgot he had one. He never walked it, cleaned it, or brought it out to play. We argued with him about the responsibilities of being a dog owner until we were blue in the face, but to no avail. He just wasn’t interested in the hassle of the day-to-day grind. It was the big start and the big finish he liked, like an emotional cherry picker.

It was only after I got a cat in my early twenties that I realized how similar I was. I loved the idea of cats, I loved going to the cat shelter and picking it out. That one is cute, yes. Like bringing home a furry throw pillow or a breathing sweater that might help me get laid. I liked all the fun parts: naming it, buying it a catnip-filled ball, napping on the couch.

It wasn’t until day-to-day life of living with a pet – and keeping it alive and clean – that I started having issues. You want food? Didn’t I just feed you? Wait, it pooped again? It’s like an everyday thing with these beasts, for crying out loud. I treated the cat as well as I could, considering the fact that I could barely keep myself alive. My friends talked to me about the responsibilities of being a pet owner, but it was to no avail. In the end, I gave him away when I moved to Europe. Now he lives with my former roommate’s dad and they sit on the couch together and watch Wheel of Fortune. He is in a better place.

That’s how I rationalized it, anyway. He’s better off without me.

When I adopted the B Monster, I did very much the same thing. The first few days were exciting – cat! – and then the furry little monster wanted food, attention, and a clean bathroom daily. The nerve. A short while after I got her, I wondered if I had made another mistake.

However, the B Monster clearly wasn’t going to let me off the hook so easily. And so we battled. She relentlessly knocked on my door to wake me for a feeding, crapped in my shoes if I didn’t clean her box fast enough, and bit my calf if I was out too late. Her guerrilla tactics were impressive.

But I am bigger, have access to doorknobs, and had near-professional experience as an Animal Pest. So I bit her tail if she got too aggressive and once peed in her litter box just to show her who was boss. I threatened to get a rabbit who might depress her or a hamster who would stress her out. Worse, I threatened to take up the bicycle again, though I don’t think she understood what I was talking about.

Despite my threats, taking care of the little runt was easier than dealing with the fallout of my laziness. So I did that instead. She occasionally showed her appreciation by guarding my doorway as I slept, bringing me offers of dead spiders and stolen sink sponges, and sitting on my lap while I wrote to offer editorial advice. After a while we developed a begrudging respect for each other and in between the now fewer battles there were dual naps on the couch and sardine platters.

After time, it became clear that day-to-day life with an animal is the best part. Like bribing a weird little friend with meat-flavored snacks and belly rubs. And soon I realized that I had become a Cat Guy.

I’ve heard stories of womanizing Cassanovas who eventually settled down with domineering women, forced to live out their lives in servitude in what surely seemed to everyone else to be their worst nightmares. I suppose I always thought those guys had sort of got their just desserts, that they were doing their penance for a lifetime of bad deeds.

I am a Cat Guy doing penance. I have to do it for those hamsters, ducks, bees, cats, dogs, and that stupid rabbit. And it’s really OK. Half of the internet loves my kind and the other half rolls their eyes and thinks we’re idiots. Some of my friends think I am a poster boy for the crazy cat man in a cardigan that smells like liver snacks. Despite it all, the penance could be worse. And no penance would be the worst.

  1. #1 by Tiffany N. York on November 2, 2015 - 7:40 am

    Er, talk to me before you decide to become “Kid Guy.”

    And don’t think for a moment the B Monster isn’t plotting to kill you in your sleep.

    You’ve been warned…

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