The Catfather

Do Not Displease the Catfather

I’ve decided to write at the kitchen table today. I read once that artists and writers are supposed to change things up like that to give a different perspective. Also, I’m almost hungry, and don’t want to be too far from my fridge when the pangs come. Those are my ostensible reasons.

The real reason is that my cat has fallen asleep on my office chair and she’s been in a grumpy mood this morning. If you have a cat who leans towards the moody, you know the ramifications of waking it up.

In my house, waking the B Monster results in a loud argument right off the bat. Then I pretend to concentrate on writing but really I unsuccessfully try to keep her in my periphery, because payback is coming. She circles beneath my chair toying with me the way a reef shark might a plane crash survivor floating on an inner tube. Then, after perhaps I’ve drifted into a false sense of security and started looking at the Internet, she strikes, leaving me with a couple of puncture holes in my arm or calf. Then she scurries off under the couch, dropping into a long nap brought on by exacting vengeance.

Today, as quiet as I try to be, an alarm I set and forgot to turn off begins bleeping away from my tablet. By the time I get to it, the cat is looking at me with sleepy eyes and a pissed off look. I decide to act that everything is normal, so I get back to work and keep at bay thoughts of my future chicken salad sandwich. A while later the cat leaps up onto the kitchen table and stands on my notes. I gently pick her up and release her to the wilds of my flat, a place she goes with a chirp.

It’s the chirp I don’t like. It’s ominous.

She circles beneath my chair. Oh no. I think: How can I make her happy? I look over at her food and water bowls, which are both adequately full. I fluff up a quilt on the couch and vocally suggest that it’s time for a good sixteen hour nap. I get back to work. In a moment, she is standing in the far corner of the litter box and, as every cat owner has experienced at least once or twice, she looks at me with a flat face, and shits right on the floor.

I throw a fit, and mutter curses to myself as I gather cleaning supplies and roll up my sleeves. Naturally, I fall into the philosophical digression granted those gathering and cleaning shit out of a place it doesn’t belong. (NB: before you parents of human children even start, let me just say that I can’t imagine the nightmare places your brain goes while you clean baby shit out of the sad nooks and crannies of your lives).

My cat is a little mob boss.

It all starts to make sense. She’s sweet and lovely, but it’s either to get what she wants or until she doesn’t get what she wants. She offers protection in my house by killing off mosquitoes, plants, mice, spiders, and other creepy crawlies, and as long as I repay her with a steady stream of cat food, turkey slices, and water, all is peaceful.

She leaves a steady stream of “gifts” at the foot of my bed. I awake to socks, balls, dish sponges, pencils, and earphones. I used to think that these were offerings to Lord Daddy, Giver of Vittles (on time) and Cleaner of Filth, but now I’m wondering if these aren’t gifts, but warnings:

You better not get those carrot-infused Whiskas snacks again, or else!

I’m sure if I had a goldfish, it would have been delivered in a fur-covered athletic sock by now. She delivers quick and cruel justice if displeased.

When I finish cleaning, she is nearby watching with a See what happens when you wake me up look on her face. A little while later I sit back down to work and the B Monster leaps up onto my table. She chirps a few times and meows. I watch her intently.

She is clearly making me an offer I can’t refuse; I just wish I could understand what it was.

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