“Remember,” my wife told me, “you have to take the cat to the vet today.”
I balked, pointing out, “Why me? It is your cat…”
“Don’t even go there,” she warned.
This business with the cat is a wrinkle in our relationship, one that will never be ironed out.
Every other day we dance the same dance. She emerges from the laundry room holding her nose and declares, “The cat box needs cleaning.”
Every other day I argue, “It’s your cat, ergo; the cat box is also yours.”
She shakes her head no, “You are the one he loves.”
She has me there. It’s her cat but he loves me, so I pay the price for this infidelity by scooping litter and taking him to the vet. The thing is I never wanted a cat in the first place.
What I wanted was an ugly dog — the kind who slobbers on furniture. Since my wife has unrealistic expectations about cleanliness, I figured a couch-mutt would be the perfect counter-stroke. So we went in search of a dog but at the animal shelter, my wife wandered off to look at cats. Before I could remind her how much I disliked the beasts, she stapled a little tuxedo kitten to my sweater and that was that.
The cat never acquired a name, just the capitalization of its species – Cat. Nor did he acquire affection for anyone but me – no matter how hard I tried to discourage him.
Anyway, I have lost myself.
Our vet is close-by, a mere four blocks, so I figured I’d have no trouble managing Cat in a car for that distance.
For the most part I was correct. He snuggled in my lap as I drove and expressed only minor curiosity at the traffic, at least until we came within view of the animal clinic. The building has no particular significance for me but to Cat, it was the scene of his emasculation.
His ears went into radar mode. His eyes grew larger than Frisbees as his tail expanded to the size of California. Then he howled.
It was me who howled as Cat dug his claws into my lap to launch himself into orbit around the interior of my car.
Despite the agony, I managed to park at the clinic and with a little coaxing, unriveted Cat from the passenger seat. I then attached him to the skin of my forearm where he dangled comfortably while we went in to see the Vet.
There was only one other pet in the waiting room, a mournful Basset hound whose droopy eyes and long face said that he didn’t want to be there either.
In fact, his expression said more than that. It said he did not appreciate being gussied up in a doggy sweater and matching boots. He said without saying anything that what he wanted most in life was to be left alone – and not be attached to an owner who had so much love to give.
I sympathized with him.
I too understand what it is like to accept love without being entirely in love yourself. To do that – is to truly understand love.
I wanted to swap Cat for that dog. Perhaps Cat could attach himself to someone who would return his love, leaving the basset and me to blissfully ignore one another.
But that was not to be. The vet, a very nice lady, called us in and removed Cat from my arm. After tranquilizing the little guy and attending to his scheduled maintenance, she cleaned my wounds and sent us on our way.
At home, I knew there would be trouble. The moment we stepped through the front door, Cat leaped from my arms and streaked across the living room to my wife.
Aha, I thought, I’ve made an enemy and now he will direct his love toward her. Instead, he sank his fangs into my wife’s ankle then vanished under the couch.
“Hey!!!” she shouted, “what was THAT for?”
“I have absolutely no idea,” I said, “but he is your…”
She raised a hand in sharp dismissal.
Yeah, I know, it is me he loves.