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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


My oldest daughter’s cat spent her honeymoon week with me. I’m thinking about getting a t-shirt that says, “My daughter went to Michigan and all I got was a lousy feline”.

Most of my life I’ve been around cats, even though I’m allergic, because I’m a softy at heart. Not toward the cats, but toward people who want to have cats. “I know you can’t breathe, but they’re so cute ...” Still, I haven’t had one since my youngest daughter developed allergies and asthma, more than ten years ago. In other words, I use her as an excuse. But I’m just a guy who can’t say no.

I saw virtually nothing of Chopper, who was named after some TV show about motorcycles, for the first two days. Twice a day I’d pull the tab on a can of cat food, and there he’d be. I turned it into a game. I’d open it as quietly as possible, and there he was. I’d hide in the closet, covered in a blanket. When I opened the door, there he was. Finally I drove two blocks down the street to open it in my car with the windows closed and the radio blaring. When I got back home, there he was in the window, by the front door.

Other than meals, he was no more than a rumor at first. Charis lives in an apartment, while I opened up my whole house, in the hopes new mysteries would keep him too busy to bother me. Sure enough, he took off exploring, coming back only when his psychic powers detected the presence of food.

Then he’d show up covered in cobwebs, giving me this “It’s all your fault!” look.

“Where did you come from?” I’d say. “I clean house every now and then – really I do. Don’t look at me like that!” Then I’d clean him off, while reflecting on the fact that within hours I’d been reduced to both serving and talking out loud to a cat.

I still don’t know where the cobwebs came from.

It took another day before my old pet-owner instincts kicked in, and I actually started hearing Chopper talk back to me. He’d wander around the living room for awhile, then look up at me with an expression that said, “Where are the hamsters? I can smell them. I can hear the little wheel. Help me out here, dude – I just want to introduce myself.”

Seriously, he said all that with just an expression.

I’d taken ten years worth of various memorabilia off the top of my dining room bookcase, which reaches almost to the ceiling, and put the hamster cage there. I’m no dummy. A cat can jump four to six feet unless it senses prey, in which case it can jump as far as it darn well feels like. I not only put the hamsters as high as they could go, but I greased the top of the bookcase and waited for the fun to begin.

Okay, not really – I’d have regretted such an act later, after forgetting I’d done it.

Much to my surprise, Chopper never found the hamsters. What he did find was my waterbed.

You see, the temperature in my house is turned down to setting marked on my thermostat as “bone chilling”. Those of you who know how much I hate being cold may go ahead and laugh now, but I hate paying bills almost as much. As a result, the only comfortable places in my house are under a pile of comforters on the heated waterbed, or inside the furnace. Inside the furnace doesn’t work as well in practice as it did in my imagination.

So I’d be sound asleep in the middle of the day, curtains drawn, fan running to cover the sound of traffic outside, and – thump! Something jumps on the bed. For a person used to being along in the house during my work week, I can assure you that’s an attention-getter. After the screaming stopped and I settled down again, I’d find myself – and I don’t get this part – staying very still so I didn’t disturb the cat.

Disturb the cat! He just caused me to dream that an 800 pound spider jumped onto the bed, and I’m worried about disturbing him?

Still, overall there are only two concerns I had during the week.

First, he’d be walking calmly through the room when suddenly he’d take off as if he’d been electrocuted, dashing through the house as fast as he could. At all hours of the day or night, I’d suddenly hear a mad scramble, followed once or twice by a satisfying thump. There are no mice. It was like his coffee suddenly kicked in.

The second involves my understanding that – not to be indelicate – cats cover up their own, um, leavings. That’s what cat litter’s for, right? But every once in awhile, Chopper would climb into his cute little covered box, strain for a couple of minutes, and – walk away.

Within minutes the entire house smelled like the inside of a kitty outhouse. And guess what I find myself doing? Covering up the cat’s crap! That’s just wrong. Twice, while shoveling, I glanced up to find him peeking around the corner at me. Did you know cats can grin? Neither did I.

Truthfully, we had no other major problems. At the end of Chopper’s visit, I said to my youngest, “So – achoo! – did you *sniff* notice any *cough* *cough* problems with your *hack* allergies?”

I guess she didn’t, because she never answered me. She just wheezed and fell over.

Yeah. Cats are in charge.


Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
elizalavelle
Nov. 3rd, 2006 11:54 am (UTC)
Awww, I'm very glad I'm not allergic to kitties, my roommate has one and he's adorable :)
ozma914
Nov. 5th, 2006 12:18 am (UTC)
I pet them anyway; then try to remember to wash my hands before touching my face. if I forget, that's when the fun begins. :-(
curiouswombat
Nov. 3rd, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
I still don’t know where the cobwebs came from.
Well wherever it was there won't be anythere now as the cat obviously collected them all, so don't worry about it!

First, he’d be walking calmly through the room when suddenly he’d take off as if he’d been electrocuted, dashing through the house as fast as he could.
Ours does that sometimes - I reckon it's just to confuse the on-lookers.
ozma914
Nov. 4th, 2006 07:17 am (UTC)
Cats *do* like to be unpredictable
I'm thinking of bringing him back every month or so, to dust the house.
bloodytearslife
Nov. 3rd, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
*giggles*

Yeah, that's all I can say in response to this article.
ozma914
Nov. 5th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)
making you giggle
My job is done, here.
deborahw37
Nov. 3rd, 2006 06:24 pm (UTC)
That's cats for you they just move in and take over


and the game Chopper was playing is called * hurtle* Numfar plays that a lot , along with * woot* and * ambush*
ozma914
Nov. 5th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC)
I've seen cats play *ambush*; but I'm not familiar with *woot*, unless it's that little look they give when they're sure they've outsmarted out.
kazzy_cee
Nov. 3rd, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
The worst thing that cats do it suddenly stare intently at a spot only they can see. My grandmother used to say they could see ghosts. Which of course I laugh at ....except when I'm on my own in the house in the evening and the cat stares wide eyed at something only he can see.... it's scary!!
ozma914
Nov. 5th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
The ghost stare
Yes, I've seen cats do that many times, and it's extremely spooky. One of my friends talks about "shadow people" -- the ones you can see only from the corner of your eye. I've seen no evidence to prove cats aren't seeing them full-on!
strangexgirl
Nov. 3rd, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
meow
Chopper looks a lot like one of my cats, Aces and Eights (Will named her, it's a historical reference..yay for nerdness!).
I laughed so much reading that.
ozma914
Nov. 6th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC)
Re: meow
I made you laugh! :-)
synaptikchaos
Nov. 3rd, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC)
oooh, we had a cat for a while that would not cover her poo. thankfully, we have dutiful poo coverers now. one of them gets a bit too into it and even covers up the others' poo--after they've already covered it up--because they didn't do a good enough job according to her standards. :p

Oliver, who's in my icon, always opens the bedroom door--completely, wide open, to the wall--whenever he comes into the bedroom at night. it was a little disturbing for a while until we figured out it was just him. now it's just annoying because there's a draft.
ozma914
Nov. 5th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
the more poo covering, the better
That open door thing in strange; cats usually open stuff up *just* enough to get through. Maybe Oliver's worried about getting his tail caught in a slamming door?

I had a dog who would walk into my room while I was sleeping, then put her nose under my hand and lift it up and the hopes that I'd pet her. Apparently she couldn't understand the concept of working third shift, and saw no reason why I should be sleeping during the day.
Re: the more poo covering, the better - synaptikchaos - Nov. 5th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC) - Expand
circadian rhythm - ozma914 - Nov. 13th, 2006 10:49 am (UTC) - Expand
untitleddemo
Nov. 3rd, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)
Cute! Grey kitties are my favorite. And it's true, cats are most definitely in charge. :D
ozma914
Nov. 5th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)
I prefer black cats, although the first one I remember from my childhood was a pure white one, imaginatively named Joe. Most of the ones my family owned were greyish, for whatever reason.
redwolf
Nov. 5th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
Are you sure the cat was named for a telly show and not Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read?
ozma914
Nov. 6th, 2006 09:44 am (UTC)
No, he was definitely named after "Orange County Choppers" -- which happens to have a guy on it who resembled Mr. Read.

Talk about write what you know ...
(no subject) - redwolf - Nov. 6th, 2006 10:05 am (UTC) - Expand
ears with a razor?! - ozma914 - Nov. 7th, 2006 07:27 am (UTC) - Expand
iamcyber
Nov. 5th, 2006 08:57 am (UTC)
Dogs have owners, cats have staff
My b/f's cats, at least the three I've met, are snugglers. They want nothing more than to curl up next to a trusted warm person.

Gabby, the resident chatterbox (hence, the name) has the notion that you're supposed to hold her and let her claw/knead at your shoulder while she gets comfortable and will growl/hiss if put down when she's comfortable. None of us tolerate her growling and either growl back or tell her "Don't you dare growl at me!" She's a Bombay Abyssinian and thinks she's a spoiled princess.

Puffer, at least, doesn't claw when snuggling and neither does Gabby's daughter, Raffles. The rest of the crew (I think another 4 of them) reside in the upstairs apartment, and I haven't met them...yet. Surprisingly, NONE of them trigger my allergies.
ozma914
Nov. 6th, 2006 09:35 am (UTC)
Re: Dogs have owners, cats have staff
*busily counting cats* ... Wow. That's a lotta cats.

They certainly are snugglers, aren't they? If it wasn't for my own allergies, I'd have a dozen or so and use them instead of paying to heat my waterbed.
Re: Dogs have owners, cats have staff - iamcyber - Nov. 6th, 2006 09:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Dogs have owners, cats have staff - ozma914 - Nov. 7th, 2006 07:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Dogs have owners, cats have staff - iamcyber - Nov. 7th, 2006 07:57 am (UTC) - Expand
chopper's standards - ozma914 - Nov. 8th, 2006 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand
cbtreks
Nov. 11th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
I'm laughing out loud right now - yeah, that's life with cats.

First, he’d be walking calmly through the room when suddenly he’d take off as if he’d been electrocuted, dashing through the house as fast as he could. At all hours of the day or night, I’d suddenly hear a mad scramble, followed once or twice by a satisfying thump. There are no mice. It was like his coffee suddenly kicked in.

We call it the kitty crazies (don't recall where I picked up the phrase but it was perfect).

The second involves my understanding that – not to be indelicate – cats cover up their own, um, leavings. That’s what cat litter’s for, right? But every once in awhile, Chopper would climb into his cute little covered box, strain for a couple of minutes, and – walk away.

Yeah, that's a vicious rumor. I just wish our youngest cat (who is quite old enough to know better!) would cover. Bah.

Still, I love our cats no matter what.
ozma914
Nov. 13th, 2006 10:51 am (UTC)
kitty crazies
Well, cats are like kids: No matter how many messes they leave behind and no matter how mad you might get at them, you still have to love them.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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