The Stray Cat Strut (Except She Seems to Be the PERMANENT CAT)

It seems like every single time I talk to anyone these days, I always start the conversation by asking, “So, do you want a cat?”  And really, I thought that there would be more of an interest.   More comments along the lines of, “Tell me more.”  But alas, I have yet to speak with anyone who shouts out, “Oh my lands!  I was just talking to Jesus this very morning, and I told Him, ‘If I am meant to have a cat, please bring one into my life!’ and here you are, offering me one!  When can I pick her up?”

No one says this to me.  Apparently, finding a home for a possibly-autistic, maybe-Down’s-Syndrome, almost-but-not-quite-three-year-old cat is as easy to do as nailing Jell-O to a tree.

But, people, Cat 2 is going to be what is commonly known as My Death.

Hubs and I don’t take Cat 2’s disabilities lightly, but we’re fairly certain SOMETHING is wrong with her.  Oh, she’s lovable.  She likes to have her back scratched, and she’ll purr tirelessly for you while you’re doing the scratching for her.  But Cat 2’s short-term memory is a quarter-of-an-inch long.  People and rooms are new to her every thirty minutes.  She seems surprised every morning to meet me in the bathroom, and I can tell that she’s going through her mental list of folks she knows, comparing my face to those, and trying to come up with a name.

Sadly, it takes her two seconds to flip through that mental list of hers, because of it’s BREVITY.  Cat 2’s mental list entitled Faces I Recognize is so empty, it holds an echo.

Cat 2 is terrified of company, and she prefers to cram herself into the tiniest space imaginable rather than endure someone glancing in her direction and proclaiming, “Oh, you have a cat!”  She sheds when she’s nervous (which is 23 and a half hours out of each day).  She removes books from the bookcase daily.  She digs up houseplants and eats them, roots and all, and yet she turns  her nose up at bacon scraps that we offer her.  She stares at us blankly most of the time, and she can calm herself down by sitting three inches in front of a wall, and staring at it while she breathes heavily.  She is crazy-terrified of The Cat in the Mirror, who gazes back at her every single morning while she sits on the bathroom sink.  When she sees The Cat in the Mirror, she starts to breathe like she’s in labor and her ears lay flat against her head, as she whispers to me, “That cat is looking at me again!”  She washes her front feet every single day in either the communal water dish or the toilet.  (And if it’s done in the water dish that day, Cat 1 refuses to drink out of it, and I don’t blame her.  But this insures that Cat 1 will follow me around the house, howling incessantly like a dying banshee until I have refilled the communal bowl with FRESH water that isn’t completely contaminated by feet germs.)  Cat 2 also digs tunnels through her litterbox with her nose, and then she’ll look up at you with bits of litter clinging all over her face.

She is also obsessed with Yoda Joe, the yodeling tree frog from the Southern Hemisphere, who lives in a giant tank of luxury in the boy’s bedroom.  For months, we assumed that Cat 2 was out to catch Yoda Joe for dinner; now, Hubs and I are more inclined to believe that Cat 2 has struck up the strangest friendship on earth with a caged frog.  She sits with him daily, with her nose to his tank, and Yoda Joe comes right up to her, and he puts HIS nose against the tank.  And there they sit, for hours, like two friends reunited through the glass visitor’s booth at the local jail.  As long as Cat 2 sits and simply watches Yoda Joe, we limit her consequences.  She stares into his tank like it’s the best high-definition television set around, and she’s happy to find out that she has HBO.  She finds Yoda Joe and his daily schedule more fascinating than The Sopranos, as she announces, “Oh!  This is the best part! He’s going to hop onto his big log now!  Look!  Look! There he goes!”  But, whenever Cat 2 tries to touch the frog’s tank with her paws, the Mighty Thump of the Parents comes down right on top of her gray head.

Yesterday, while I was putting freshly folded laundry away, I walked into the boy’s bedroom to see Cat 2 in her usual spot.  She jumped in fear, and shouted, “I was just LOOKING!”  And I said, “I know; I’m just putting the boy’s jeans in his dresser drawer.  At ease, Private!”  When she realized that a flogging had not already been scheduled, she leaned over and pressed her nose against the tank again, and Yoda Joe did the same thing.  The tank, I might add, is covered with nose prints.

Gru, whose tank is on the bookshelf ABOVE Yoda Joe’s, has lived in the wild.  He’s been a free frog who understands the dangers of this planet and that sometimes little boys do NOT practice the catch-and-release program with frogs.  Whenever Cat 2 waltzes erratically into the boy’s bedroom to visit the yodeling tree frog, Gru begins tapping on the glass in a frantically-crazed version of Morse Code.

C-A-T-C-A-T-C-A-T-S-E-N-D-R-E-I-N-F-O-R-C-E-M-E-N-T-S.

Gru understands the potential threat that Cat 2 is to his livelihood, regardless of the fact that he considers living in a tank to be sub-par to his previous life of freedom, even though he remembers days of hopping wildly for cover when the hawk flew overhead and days when there were no crickets to be found for lunch.  Yoda Joe, who was born as an egg and raised as a tadpole in a pet shop, doesn’t understand anything beyond his comfortable companionship with a most unlikely creature.

But really, what makes my heart throb with a desire to rid my home of Cat 2 is her nighttime activities.

Cat 2, you see, sleeps on a special blanket at the foot of our bed, because that’s where she CHOOSES TO SLEEP, and Hubs and I failed at trying to get her to sleep anywhere else.  The blanket was put in place to keep the shedding on my quilt to a minimum.  And, as long as no one MOVES during the night, Cat 2 will stay right there.  Right on that special blanket.  But heaven forbid that someone should actually GET OUT OF THE BED in the middle of the night, because doing so will wake Cat 2, and that is never a good thing.

So last night, at precisely 1:11 AM, I woke up and realized that my late-afternoon cup of Coffee Mate decorated with actual coffee, and the big glass of water at dinner, and the post-dinner cup of hot cocoa were ready to be released.  I moved my foot hesitantly around the foot of the bed, and felt the fourteen-pound, big-boned creature laying there.  I played every mind game in my arsenal to convince myself that I did NOT have to use the restroom.

“I do not have to potty; I do not have to potty; I do not have to potty.”

I failed miserably.

At 1:21 this morning, I got up.  I hurried through the bathroom as quickly as possible, and when I came back into the bedroom, I could still see that Cat 2 was motionless on the foot of the bed.  I remember whispering in my head, “Oh, thank you!” as I quietly, quietly, quietly and gently, gently, gently crawled back beneath the covers.

That’s when I felt Cat 2 sit up.  And then I heard the big THUMP that is involved when she vaults her fourteen-pound self OFF OF the bed.

I mentally rehearsed every foul phrase that I knew, and then I laid there in the bed, listening.  She started with a snack, and I heard her crunching some dry cat food.  She then proceeded to wash her front feet in the water bowl, so I sat up in bed and did the HISSING SOUND by blowing air through my teeth, which usually startles her into momentary good behavior.  Then all was quiet.

At 1:34 this morning, I heard the SCRATCH, PLUNK, SCRATCH, PLUNK as Cat 2 used her NOW CLEAN front paws to pull books out of the boy’s bookcase.  She hooks her claws into the tops of the spines, pulls forward, and lets the books drop to the floor.  Every day, we are faced with a pile of books to pick up.  Every day, the boy says, “But it isn’t fair that I have to pick these books up, because I didn’t dump them on the floor!”

I got out of bed, stormed into the boy’s bedroom, and swung a pillow at Cat 2.  She ran and hid beneath the boy’s bed.

At 1:45 this morning, there it was again.  SCRATCH, PLUNK, SCRATCH, PLUNK.  Two more books were on the floor.  I was back out of bed, swinging the pillow like a main character in Braveheart.  All I lacked was a face smeared with warpaint.

At 1:49, while I was still breathing hard from the miniature battle I’d just fought, I heard TAP, TAP, TAP.  At first, I assumed it was Gru’s shaky Morse Code, announcing to Batman and The Flash and all the other superheros that THERE WAS A CAT IN HIS ROOM, AND NOW WOULD BE A FANTASTIC TIME TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE!  But no.  It was Cat 2, and she had her paws on Yoda Joe’s tank.  This is not allowed.

I went back into the boy’s bedroom, where Cat 2 looked at me and asked, “Who are you?  I did NOT have my paws on the tank; I was only LOOKING WITH MY EYES!”  I think I actually connected the pillow to the side of her head that time.

And then, at 2:18 this morning, Cat 2 FINALLY CAME BACK TO BED.  I felt her fourteen-pound weight jump up to the foot of the bed, and she began kneading her claws on her special blanket, like she was about to make a loaf of bread, while she purred rather loudly.  I sighed in relief, fluffed my own pillow up, and prepared to go back to sleep.

And then Hubs violently kicked his foot beneath the covers at Cat 2, which scared her plum to death! She did her frightened cat-gasp to suck vital oxygen into her adrenaline-surged body and jumped in fear so quickly, she fell OFF the bed, and we heard her scurry, like a sewer rat, out of the bedroom.  And then Hubs began to giggle, and that crazy man laughed and laughed and laughed.

That crazy man who had COMPLETELY SLEPT through all of my Braveheart moves.  That man who had slumbered through the war against the books.  Hubs, who is the only adult in this house with a working knowledge of the guns and bullets that he owns, would, without a doubt, sleep through a burglar breaking into our home in the middle of the night.  I would be forced to shout out, “Bandit, stop!  Stop right now!  Don’t move!  I am going to wake Hubs up, and hopefully I can get him awake good enough so that he can load the gun and shoot you between the eyeballs!  Do NOT steal anything until I have Hubs in the upright-and-fully-awake-and-ready-for-a-burglar battle position!”

Needless to say, Hubs took a swift kick to HIS shins at 2:20 this morning, delivered by yours truly, which made him laugh all the harder, as he said, “I got Cat 2 good that time, didn’t I?!  I mean, I REALLY got her good!!”

Hubs continued to laugh at his antics until 2:40, at which time he passed out cold once again.

And Cat 2 returned to her food dish for a snack, and then she washed her front paws in the boy’s toilet.

I don’t think it will come as any surprise that I woke up a little GROUCHY this morning when the alarm blared at 6:15.  I was grouchy from square one, and then I found that I had grown an ivory tusk out of my upper lip overnight, as I was sporting the world’s largest blemish, which had NOT been there when I went to bed last night.  Six pounds of Clinique foundation only succeeded in changing the color of the tusk.  Trying to hide something of that magnitude would have been like saying, “Go on ahead and smear some Clinique foundation all over that Volkswagen Beetle over there, and let’s see if the neighbors notice it.”

And then I air-dried my hair and decided to add a few more curls with the curling iron, which did not actually go well for me at all this morning, as I ended up looking like a professional basketball player, circa 1974.  Can you say, “Great big Afro, Baby”?  All I needed was a pair of super short gym shorts with a stripe down the sides and a super tall pair of tube socks with stripes around the tops.  The Globetrotters would have taken one look at me and said, “You’re in!”

And then, when my Big Hair and I were finally ready for the day, I went into the kitchen to make my first cup of Coffee-Mate-laced-with-actual-coffee.  I shook the jug of liquid Coffee Mate up, and the top, which had not been snapped shut, flew open.  In less time than it takes for Hubs’ Batman-like cell phone to boot up, I had managed to cover myself with Vanilla Caramel Coffee Mate, which necessitated an entire outfit change.

And that, people, is how Wednesday pretty much looked for me.

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