Abusing Nostalgia: Feline

I never understood the appeal of cats.  Well, more specifically, I never understood how anyone could not love dogs.  I grew up with a dog.  Having a dog was wonderful.  In my view, every kid should grow up with a dog.

So it's not that I really had anything against cats per se, they just weren't dogs.  But I never really gave cats a fair shake.  And then I met Nicole.

A few years ago I wrote these infrequent "essays" for a small 'zine in the UK called Swings and Roundabouts.  It's not really my best stuff, and most of it was written with an attitude that I'm not particularly a fan of anymore.  In fact, I cut a lot out of here because it gave an impression of me that I'm not comfortable with.

It's worth pointing out that I am now, 7 years after having written this, a cat person.  There can be no doubts about that.  I still love dogs, mind you, but if forced to choose, I'd go with cats.  They're far less work, far less demanding, and generally more entertaining.

This does not make anything below less true, though.

If there were a non-creepy way of writing about our cats, I'd do it, but I think I already post enough pictures of them on Facebook.

Chair Through A Window

By Kyle Garret

            Volume One Number Three: Feline

The first night is always the hardest.

Mine was a disaster.

My girlfriend and I were sound asleep in her bed when I felt something on my foot. Hindsight being 20/20, I now realize that it was the cat’s tongue, but there’s no way I could have known that then. And, like any reasonable human being, I reacted the way one does when they’re woken up by something on their foot: I kicked.

I kicked her cat.

I kicked it so hard, in fact, that it went tumbling off the bed. My girlfriend moaned and rolled over on to her side, but beyond that she made no indication that she’d actually seen or heard me do my best David Beckham to her only child. But I knew. I knew full well what I’d done.

“So your cat licked my foot last night,” I said to her the next morning. At this point I wasn’t sure that I was actually going to tell her, but if it ever came up (you know, just in case the cat told her), I wanted to make sure I had my bases covered.

“Did you kick him?” she said nonchalantly. Did I kick him? Did I kick him??

Why would she ask such a thing? Was I that obvious?

“A little bit,” I said, as if there are really levels of such things: Did you decapitate that prostitute?  Just a little bit.

“Yeah, I heard you,” she said. I suppose the pain and suffering of her only child would not go unnoticed.  I’m sure there’s a psychic bond.

“I didn’t mean to,” I said.

At this point she laughed.

“It’s okay,” she said, “he seems okay.”

How would you even be able to tell? It’s a cat. They’re always a bit off.

It’s at this point that acceptance takes a different turn.

Up until now, you’ve accepted that the cat exists and that it might even be important to her. You’ve accepted that there are times when you’ll have to let it lick your nose (side note: when she tells you the cat will do it once and never do it again, she’s lying). You’ve accepted that you may, on occasion, be required to carry bags of kitty litter and kitty excrement to the trash. But at some point you realize that you can’t just accept the cat; you have to embrace it. If you ever hope to gain her confidence, you have to become friends with it.

Just remember that the cat has to come to you. You have to be civil towards it, but the cat will decide if and when it will allow you to touch it. When it does, you have to be calm about it. This isn’t a dog; you can’t just rough it up. Cats are fragile, feeble creatures whose only real defense in the wild is the ability to climb trees. 

They will never trust you, but at some point they might like you.