M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, October 01, 2002  

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Trash and I live with two cats. Since they’re cats, I’ll use their real names. I could come up with pseudonyms, but it’s not like you can Google them to find out where they live and start stalking them.

Strat was about eight months old when we rescued him from a stray’s life on the street. This was at the end of a long, cold winter, and the vet suggested that he might have a little neurological damage from living outside during his crucial growing period. We spent a lot of time playing with him, and he eventually figured out concepts like object permanence and inertia and gravity. Now he’s a big, sweet, fluffy lug who thinks he can still nap in a cracker box and has to have the kitty snacks on the floor pointed out to him with a fair degree of precision. He’s had a few other health issues which I will, in the future, shamelessly mine like the rich veins of comedy that they are.

Orca, on the other hand, has a bum rap for being a bitch. I maintain that she’s simply shy, a personality trait which appears to take on the form of hostility. She’s a small cat, but she has her space, and you invade it at your peril. I’m not one of those people who will chuckle indulgently when she snaps off the tip of someone’s finger; she knows that’s not okay and it’s going to earn her a time-out in the bathroom. But she also knows that a human being is big enough to kill her if it wants to, and unless it’s Trash or me, she’d just as soon it kept its distance, thanks. Her self-preservation instinct trumps her manners. That doesn’t make her a bitch. She’s just cautious. I say this with some authority, since she’s only ever really tried to kill me once.

But she’s a little weird. I don't have kids, but it must be like when you do and her or she (or they) has this genius-level I.Q., but you don't notice it so much because a) you're used to it, and b) it's always manifesting itself in the strangest ways via the most bizarre behavior. Or at least that's what it must have been like for my parents.

Also, Orca is one of the few cats in the world who's a hypochondriac.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Many years ago, she darted under our sleeper-sofa while we were opening it up and got her head caught in there for a second. We stopped before her fuzzy little noggin got pinched clean off, but a few days later she started walking around the apartment with her head all bobbly like Katharine Hepburn’s. We took her to the vet, where she immediately stopped doing it and they were unable to find anything wrong with her.

There was another time, when I'd taken a week off of work to build a deck behind our house. It wasn't going particularly smoothly, we were tracking mud all over the place, and the refrigerator quit working. You don't want to be working on an outdoor construction project without a working fridge. On top of that, Orca started dragging her back legs around. "Great," we thought, "now the cat's broken too."

No, it turned out she was just lazy. Again, the vet was unable to find anything wrong. Although it was nice of her to force us to take time off from building the deck and scheduling fridge repair so we could haul her prima donna ass in to the vet.

This past spring, she reached new heights of invention. Trash discovered a lump on the back of Orca's neck. I took her into the vet the next day (Orca, not Trash). Fortunately, we don't have cat cancer. The lump is a harmless mass of skin cells. How the cat figured out how to fake cancer, I'll never know.

Shortly after that episode, she got the sneezies. There's nothing cuter than a tiny creature sneezing uncontrollably, especially when they're dry sneezes. She probably just inhaled some plaster dust, given the fact that we'd been playing the home version of Trading Spaces. But of course we had to call the vet anyway, just to make sure she didn't have kitty tuberculosis or something.

Actually, I thought the sneezing was so cute that I considered having her fixed so she stayed that way. But I was too slow, and she recovered after a couple of days.

Now her new thing is to walk around crossing her front legs in front of each other. I’m not exaggerating. She’ll be strolling along, placing her left foot in front of and to the right of her right foot, and vice versa. Seen from above, it gives her stride a very even, measured weave. And it’s weird. But I don’t think it’s a sign of anything wrong with her. I just think she got bored again, and is experimenting with a new way of walking.

I’m going to tell myself the same thing when she starts walking around upright. It’s only a matter of time, and there’s going to be no other way to avoid getting freaked out about it.

posted by M. Giant 3:16 PM 0 comments


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