Satan in the Litter Box

I hate my cat. Cat people, save yourself the trouble of emailing me. And, rest assured, this is not a one-sided kind of a deal. The cat hates me, too. I know it is childish and wrong for me to hate the cat. After all, it is not her fault that I bought her. I should feel sorry for her. Imagine, being purchased by someone you hate and not having the thumbs to do anything about it. Poor, sweet, evil baby.

My cat is very beautiful, and people who come over to my house—cat people, that is—are beside themselves when they see her. They coo and moon like it was Angelina Jolie who just ambled into the room after taking a dump. “Who is this gorgeous one?” they say, stretching their spines sensuously. (Scritchy-scratch.) Or “Ooooooh, look at that pretty kitty!” (Caress, stroke.)

Cat people, listen to me. I have never nor will I ever mistreat or neglect this wee beastie. If you want me to believe you when you say that cats have personalities just like humans do, then sure; I’m with you. Because then you will have to agree with me when I tell you that, without a doubt, some of them are total cat-holes.

Having one cat does not make you a cat person. Having three or more does. Maybe you have a cat or a cat person in your life. I have four cat people in my life. They are all physically beautiful, well-educated people, but other than that, they come from different neighborhoods and socio-economic backgrounds. The wealthier cat people, I have noticed, can sort of mask their cat person-hood by claiming eccentricity. This doesn’t fly with those of lower income. These cat people just seem all the crazier for choosing to scoop poop and de-lint in their spare time, and for spending what disposable income they have on food, litter, and all manner of feline accessories.

Cats cost about three hundred dollars a year to maintain. They have a projected fifteen- to seventeen-year lifespan. If you have three cats, this adds up to a grand total of $13,500. I understand that it is nice to come home to “someone.” But please try to think outside the litter box for a second. Nine hundred dollars a year might purchase you a shot at human companionship. You could take a life-enriching class. Get out and meet people. A painting class, maybe. You could even paint pictures of cats.

Cat people, you love to speak of the companionship that these tiny terrors offer, but have you ever stopped to notice that there are no “man’s best friend” genre movies starring cats? Could Old Yeller ever have been made if the script called for an orange tabby? How come there are no such things as bomb-sniffing cats? Or seeing-eye cats? “Cats are too smart for that.” I’ve heard that one before. Tell it to Judge Judy. Cats are inherently wicked, self-involved pleasure seekers. If being a wicked, self-involved pleasure seeker equals smart, how come we’re so quick to call Britney Spears stupid? Britney Spears would totally be worshipped in ancient Egypt. And look what happened to the ancient Egyptians.

Furthering my argument: The next time you go out for dim sum, check out the animals on your placemat. You’ll find a pig, a goat, a rat, even a snake! There is no year of the cat in Chinese astrology. They have a dragon. A pretend animal was better than a cat.

Plus, cats have got that otherworldly, spooky vibe. Nostradamus was a cat owner, ditto Aleister Crowley. I don’t think it’s just black cats—all cats are bad luck. There is no good-luck correlation to cats. People don’t carry around lucky cat’s feet. Unlike horse manure, if you step in cat poop on a city street, it doesn’t mean that you are lucky.

Cats are the opposite of heroic. You always hear modern folktales of devoted dogs who were tragically separated from their owners and sniffed their way cross-country from Nebraska to Vermont, making their way back to little Billy. People write love songs about dogs. “Lily,” by Pink Martini. “Queenie’s Song,” by Guy Clark. “Old King,” by Neil Young. What songs are there about cats? “The Cat Came Back.”

As I sit here tonight, daubing my five-inch laceration with a sterile alcohol pad from the first-aid kit, these unkind thoughts about my cat comfort me. On the upside, it is nice to have a face (even if it is three inches wide and furry) upon which to superimpose all of my earthly hatred and anxieties. On the downside, it means putting up with violent and bloody surprise attacks in my own home. I am the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, and she is my Cat-o.



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