I couldn’t stop crying as I entered the Priceless Pet Clinic. Intimate crying. The kind you only let a few people in your life see due to unsightly swelling. The kind that won’t stop and makes others uncomfortable.
“I think he is done. I think he doesn’t want to do it anymore. I think he wants to be done now. ” I said between sobs as I approached the desk holding our cat. Bill writhed and whimpered and took in only hard earned breaths–his bones visible through his fur coat. All the piss and vinegar that made him the cat from hell, our cat from hell, was drained out of him, a fighter without without a ring, only a blanket.
This melodramatic scene would have been perfect for a Marlee and Me cat spin off. Especially since my tears were dripping with irony. I hated our cat. Not a malicious hate. Not like I hate suffering or cruelty. More like I hate the 49ers or room temperature milk. He was not likable. He was mean to me, my mother and pretty much everyone else too. He ruined our sleeping arrangements. He caused me and family bodily harm. He made our neighbors uncomfortable. He was aloof. He hijacked my computer. And then there was his awful habit of murdering local wildlife.
We weren’t exactly his dream humans either. He came from a wealthy family. A family that purchased him intentionally and lavished upon him accordingly. A family without small children and loud music. A family with an organized garage and clearly labeled bins for everything. A family with cat allergies.
“You fell for the you look like a nice family”trick? Don’t do it! You don’t even like cats! This is a bad idea. I will let you decide, but if you say yes…he is your cat.”
Mike was right. I am not a cat person. At all. I have had several downright traumatic experiences with them throughout my life.
Scritty Palitty the Kitty, our first cat, was an arsonist. He knocked a lamp over on my parents bed that led to the house fire that claimed our home when I was 3 years old Scritty survived by hiding under the house.
As a pre teen I got to know some feral cats who lived among us on the property we rented from my Grandfather. He decided to let them breed at will because they were skilled exterminators, and there was a rat problem. He was a shrewd business man.
Mike had a cat when we first started dating that hated me. Her name was Cora. She had a negative attitude and made me feel bad about myself. I think she also made his parents question my integrity.
Then there was Maggie and Tanner. Before I married Mike, I lived with his lovely sister, Kate. The aforementioned cats were hers. Tanner was socially maladjusted. He ate and hid. Hid and ate. He was weird, emotional and orange. It wasn’t right. I was always afraid that one day I would come home to him listening to the Cure. Maggie had a more interesting personality, but was reckless. She destroyed several of my most precious belongings including a set of teacups that belonged to my great grandmother. She never apologized.
This tumultuous history made it all the more surprising that I fell victim to flattery that day at the pool, when the wealthy family with cat allergies offered us a kitten named Billy. Maybe I needed affirmation that day. After all, I was a new mother of four and not exactly swimming in confidence. Maybe I just wanted to know that I was capable of loving an animal. Maybe I just needed a story to tell…