Now, since I posted the picture of my cat freezing in the snow, I've been getting a lot of email about it. Apparently, there are some concerned animal owners out there who feel I am a horrible pet owner and are saying things like, "People like you shouldn't have pets! You shouldn't leave it outside to freeze to death! He looks soooooo unhappy. DIE you miserable bastard! DIE DIE DIE!!!"
Here's the thing: My cat and I have an understanding. I use my opposable thumbs to operate things like cat-food cans and door knobs, and my cat, in turn, agrees not to kill me in my sleep. It goes something like this:
Cat wakes up, and cat wants to go outside. He lets me knowing this by sitting in front of the door and staring at it while making an odd sort of grunting noise that sounds a lot like an arthritic old man trying to wrestle himself from the clutches of his favorite recliner.
When this doesn't work (usually when I'm not in the room because I'm off doing other things like sleeping), cat will then grumble his way into the kitchen and, in order to to punish me for my neglect, cat will knock over his water dish and grumble his way back to stare at the door. He doesn't "meow" like normal cats tend to do. Nope, why should a guy like me have normal pets? My cat makes this weird combination of barks and glottal clicks, and for a moment, I question whether he is, in fact, a cat, and not a small, furry, arthritic, Kalahari tribesman that I'd somehow mistakenly adopted during a drunken night spent watching infomercials.
Anyway, when the water trick doesn't get my attention, cat will then empty his dish of kibble into the puddle, and, of course, grumble his way back to the door. Grumble.. grumble.. bark.
Finally, cat realizes that I am neither in the room he's in, nor am I in the kitchen contemplating my punishment and learning some sort of valuable lesson about animal neglect. Cat then decides to grumble, bark and whine his way through the house in search of me.
Now, let's say I'm doing something completely selfish, shallow and unimportant like sleeping, shall we? Cat will sit and bark outside my bedroom door (I leave the door ajar because if I closed it completely, there's a pretty good chance that cat would claw his way through it anyway, find me sleeping and descend upon me in a murderous rampage. So, to save me a trip to the Emergency Room and the hassle of getting a new door, I leave it open a little).
This can only go one of two ways: 1) I hear cat, and I get out of bed and stumble my way downstairs, through the kitchen (making sure to step in the puddle of cold, wet kibble. Of course, I'm not wearing slippers because, long ago, in retribution for a trip to the vet, cat decided that the luxury of household footwear is something I should never again experience), and I then open the door and he bounds excitedly into the sweet embrace of freedom. OR:
2) I hear cat, and stay in bed silently praying for the type of divine mercy that only comes from a sudden onset of feline narcolepsy. Please cat! Sleep Cat! God, don't kill me!
Unfortunately, my prayers are never answered, and the door is flung open with all the subtlety of a SWAT team working its way into a crack house.
"BAM!" the door smashes into the wall, and I hear plaster and wood shatter, and I think for a moment that the house will come crashing down on top of me. But no. The house remains, and from the doorway, I hear cat's distinct sounds of barking and grumbling: "Brrraap brraap mrrrr?" (yeah. It has the inflection of a question. Weird, I know).
Now, on the odd chance that this wouldn't get me out of bed (say I'm in bed with the flu or a touch of Ebola virus), can will then jump up on the bed, seek out my hand, and gnaw (not bite) on my fingers until they are a wet, slobber-coated mess.
If that doesn't wake me up, I'm either dead, or somehow, in my still sleeping mind, attempting to teach cat who is actually in charge here. This is bad because cat has very large (freakishly large, actually) front paws. They're about the same diameter as the concave bottom of a soda can. And in those massive mitts are conveniently tucked a collection of very sharp claws designed for one thing: slitting the throat of the sleeping bastard who will not let cat outside.
Tired of my insolence and neglect, cat will nudge my sleeping body until I am flat on my back. Then, cat will climb upon my chest, sit there, and place a single one of his paws gently on my forehead. Then, he will slowly extend his claws into my forehead, and when the pain of this becomes to great to ignore, I have no choice but to get out of bed, trundle downstairs, stagger through the kitchen (yes, through the cat food also), and open the door to let him out.
Of course, either decision will find me wide awake after freeing cat from his prison. So, I stay awake, make coffee, open the shades and find cat sitting at the window begging to be let in after five minutes of letting him out. And yes! I let him in so you animal lovers out there can stop praying for my early death. Then, cat comes in, eats, climbs into his favorite chair and goes to sleep for several hours before repeating the whole series of events all over again.