The post that costs me a few readers, perhaps

I have to confess something – I don’t love cats.

I know, I know, I’m an unfeeling, cruel person with a large slab of SPAM where my heart should be. But in my defense, I’m also allergic to them. This comes in handy, because I have an acceptable excuse for not petting Whiskers McMuffinpants when over at a friend’s house. It makes me kind of feel sorry for people who don’t like children, because it would be pretty hard to convince someone that you can’t really talk to their little Timmy because of the throat closure and the uncontrollable sneezing and all. I mean, it’s a rock solid cat cop out, that one.

Anywho, there’s a ragamuffin cat who roams our neighborhood whose scruffy orange tail we catch glimpses of in our backyard occasionally. A few days ago, the cat, whom I will call Mr. Scraggles for the sake of this story, decides to take his afternoon nap atop our car in our carport. Bug, seeing this, takes approximately 12 nanoseconds to get from the dining room window to the side of the car, all the while yelling “Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!” This rouses Mr. Scraggles, who to my surprise, leaps off the top of the car and ambles directly over to Bug’s side.

“Mama, can I play with the cat?” he says and I can already see the cat hair attaching itself to his pants and in between his toes.

“Uh, I guess so. But be careful – he’s an outdoor cat, so he may not be used to people petting him much.”

“Ok!” Bug says, already clutching the cat around his middle and trying in vain to wrench him up to hold him.

I feel a bit of trepidation about just leaving Bug out there with Mr. Scraggles because a.) who knows what diseases this cat may have b.) Bug doesn’t really have any experience with animals and c.) I may have already mentioned this, but I don’t like cats. But I was in the middle of painting swatches of “Georgian brick” and “Moroccan red” on the dining room walls, and I could see him right out the window, so I decide to go back inside and just keep a watchful eye out.

Bug comes in. “I’m getting a soft toy for the cat,” he says as he runs in and gets Fock the Elephant, who of course sleeps in his bed. I’m imagining all the heinous symptoms of Roaming Neighborhood Cat Disease like pustules. Or lice. So I intercept and say, “Hey you know what, Bug? I think cats really like balls! Like this old one you play with outside! It’s ok, just brush the mud off.” Luckily, he is happy with this trade. I go back to paint sampling.

Second time in, Bug says, “I think the cat is hungry, Mama. We need to give him some food.” Crap, I think. He’s going to be one of those kids who turns our house into an animal clinic, nursing injured chipmunks back to health and leaving his dinner leftovers out for the poor starving rats that live under our house.

But, ok, I confess I kind of like this about him. I mean, you want your kid to care about other living things, right? I’ve heard this makes them better in relationships later on or something. Watch out ladies. This boy pets kitties and loves his Mama.

So I pour a little milk into a saucer and set it outside. I want to film myself doing this so that I can show it to all the people in my past and future who think I secretly want to put cats in freezers. (I DON’T.)

I go back in, and I’m mentally awarding myself the medal of honor from the ASPCA. “She was so kind to that cat,” the presenter is saying. “So much so that she gave him skim milk, not wanting to compromise his sleek street cat physique and potentially hurt his chance with the lady felines.”

Then I hear Bug scream.

I drop my paintbrush like it’s hot and run out the door to see Bug limping up toward the steps, mid cry. “He was biting me, Mama! All over my legs!” He also has scratches on his arms.

What I yelled at that cat I will not write here as not to incriminate myself, but let’s just say the chances of me winning any ASPCA award are now firmly back down to the slim-to-none range.

I take Bug back inside and check him over, and having decided that no skin has been broken, I get him a snack and sit with him on the couch as he tells me what happened. A few minutes later, he starts crying again, and I say, “Bug, what’s wrong? Don’t worry, that cat’s not going to get you any more. I won’t let it.”

But it turns out that isn’t the problem. He’s sad because the cat ran away. He missed the damn thing.

I’m glad, I suppose. He didn’t get my Cat-Indifferent SPAM Heart after all. His luck with the ladies will increase tenfold and maybe he’ll cancel out all my bad cat karma. It’s a win-win.

But Mr. Scraggles? You better believe from now on, it’s NO MILK FOR YOU.

cat lover

1 comment

1 Meredith { 05.08.08 at 4:02 pm }

We had encounters with Mr. Scraggles, too, when we lived there… he got in a fight once with Sara’s cat. I’m no fan of cats, either, but you can bet I ran off Mr. Scraggles with a few choice words as well once he attacked Chou-face. Sounds like ol’ Scraggles is public enemy number one of H_____ Drive.

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