Monday, January 10, 2011

Unbecoming a Cat Person

I used to say that I would never trust a person who didn't have a best friend, who didn't like animals, or who truly enjoyed middle school.  I have lessened my dogmatic stance on the first two--I know people who are fabulously self-contained and good souls through and through, and I have become good friends with individuals who just never got used to the bizarro idea that human beings should specifically invite animals into their homes.  (Because, when you think about it, why is a cat or a dog or an iguana or a ferret welcome in your home, but a rat or a mouse or a rhinoceros isn't?)  My third criterion for trustworthiness remains written in stone, however.  I have yet to meet a person whom I would like to call a friend who sailed through middle school with no emotional scars.

However, despite my rethinking of the first two criteria for trustworthiness, I always felt it was reflective of my own good character that I have people to whom I am close, I love animals, and I hated every ever-loving minute of my time at Deer Park Middle School.  Unfortunately, my love for animals is being sorely tested lately.

This is Bonanza.  She and I have been keeping company for more than nine years, now, and for much of that time I saw her as this picture represents her.  Looking at this, you see a sweet and adorable pile of fur with whom you would be happy to share your life.  Unfortunately, in addition to the sweet and adorable character traits, Bonanza has a secret, EVIL identity.

In these two photos, Bonanza is clearly planning some sort of hostile takeover.  You can see it in her wee beady eyes!  (In actual fact, her eyes are something rather larger than "wee."  They in fact bug out like a 1950s era alien).

Now, when Bonanza and I were just two single girls living together in a one bedroom apartment, we got along like a house on fire.  We would curl up together and watch crappy romantic comedies or read for hours on end.  She never judged any late night pizza delivery calls.  I called her my Little One, and she slept on my head.  Things were good.

Then, Bonanza moved in with Charlie, a long and involved process which I will not detail here.  Suffice it to say, Charlie and Bonanza have been cat siblings for five years now, and Bonanza still has not forgiven me for it.  On a weekly basis, Charlie and Bonanza still require U.N. intervention to cease hostilities, and even if they are not specifically batting at each other with their fur mittens, Bonanza is still growling at Charlie for simply existing.  My love affair with my cat began to pall somewhat.  But she still liked to sit on my lap (and sometimes my book) when I was reading, and she still slept on my head.  I still called her Little One, and I put up with the piercing howls of rage when they cropped up.  She was still an adorable pile of fur.

Unfortunately, someone has now usurped Bonanza's place as Little One.  I worried somewhat about Bonanza's reaction to LO ahead of time, but I had no idea what to expect.  Her deep and abiding need for me has channeled itself into a number of unpleasant games she likes to play in order to show her disapproval.  There's the perennial favorite of Okay, What the Hell Smells Like Piss Down Here?  Of course, then there's the passive-aggressive game of I'll Just Lick ALL the Fur Off My Back Legs, Making It Appear That You Own a Cat With Some Sort of Aggressive Skin Disorder.  And finally, we have recently been experiencing the new one of Let's See How Far I Can Get Before She Notices That I'm Trying To Sit on the Baby.

Even Bonanza's more disgusting modes of disapproval were okay, but her attempts to get my attention by sitting on LO (in the same way that she always used to sit on my reading material when I was paying it more attention than I was paying to her) have put her in the proverbial doghouse.  I have been threatening with the fate of becoming a basement cat.  The problem with this threat is that she merely looks at me with a challenge in her buggy eyes, clearly saying "Bring it on, human!  The basement's my favorite place to play Okay, What the Hell Smells Like Piss Down Here?"

I think if I had just a little more sleep, I'd better be able to take all this acting out in stride.  After all, Bonanza was my baby for a very long time.  She thought we had a deal.  She got to sleep on my head, and I had the pleasure and privilege of scooping her poop.  She saw no need to change or revise this deal, so she's having trouble understanding why I've brought an interloper into this pleasant arrangement.  (Actually, she's probably unhappy about ALL the interlopers I've brought between us.  First Charlie, then J, then Obie, and now LO.  The difference between LO and the rest is that she could fight Charlie, J also possessed a serviceable lap if mine was unavailable, and Obie was too big to bother with unless absolutely necessary or she was feeling particularly ornery.  That's about 60% of the time).

Bonanza is currently 12 years old.  She could conceivably live to see LO's eighth birthday.  (And considering the fact that only the good die young, I suspect she'll live to be 30--and still be full of piss and vinegar.  Mostly piss, though).  I don't know about you, but that's starting to seem like a REALLY long time.

Please know that I love my cat.  She and I have been friends for a long time, and what are friends for if not to forgive each other's misplaced urine?  But I've lost a lot of whatever patience I've had with her shenanigans.  I'm finding that her behavior is making me more and more sympathetic toward the people who simply do not like cats.  I'm sure things will get better as LO grows and starts exploring his own independence.  My lap will not always be my little boy's favorite spot, and it will always welcome Bonanza back.  But that doesn't make this time any easier on me.  (Nor on her, I imagine).

So, wish me luck as I try to maintain some balance between my four-footed baby and the one who gets all of my attention.  But right now, I have to head down to the basement to find out what the hell smells like piss down there.

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