I don’t like cats.
I once left my front door open and the cat from two doors down walked straight in like he owned the place. With fancy fur and the air of confidence that can only come from a pampered lifestyle he showed no signs of caution or tension. He didn’t even properly look at me. Maybe a quick glance that said “Nyah.. you are no threat to me. I am a cat, you are merely a (little) man”. Indeed it felt like he had been through the house before - a complete stranger that, if cats were human, would help himself to the fridge, crack open a beer, watch the telly, fart loudly (whilst scratching himself), then use the toilet before leaving - through the front door. Needless to say that, once I collected my senses and processed what was going on, I picked him up and put him back outside. He meowed once but didn’t bother to struggle.
Cats are the only widely-established, domesticated animal that don't actually have owners. They feel no responsibility to anyone or anything. Cats decide stuff for themselves. Where they live. What they eat. When to show affection. When to play. When to snuggle up for warmth. When they are bored and have had enough. You don’t choose them, they choose you. They generally prefer their food and playthings alive, moving and with an active cardiovascular system. And they kill on a whim.
In the last two of decades, I have dated a couple of women with cats. And, in my experience, the prettier they think they are the more likely they will treat you the way a cat treats you. What’s yours is theirs. What’s theirs is theirs. And, regardless of the assets you bring to the table, they decide the terms of agreement. This is tough for those of us that want kids (but don’t possess a uterus) and are struggling to come to terms with whether we really want to wake up beside the same person every morning. Then she brings the cat and the inevitable “but he always sleeps with me..”
Back to the cat from up the road. The next morning I hear this meowing from behind the door that leads to the back deck. I open the door a smidge only to see it was the same damn cat trying to get in. Before I can close the door he squeezes through with the ease and grace that all cats seem to possess. Not to be outdone I pick him up and put him back out on the deck. I live on a very steep block and, whilst the front of the house sits at ground level, the back deck stands a good three storeys off the ground. If the cat got onto the deck (either up one of the large trees in the backyard or via the ramps and scaffolds put up by the builders currently renovating the place) then he can surely get himself back down.
Well, no, as it turns out. When I return home about 12 hours later I hear the meowing again at the back door. I try to ignore it but the damn thing wouldn’t stop. So I relent, pick the cat up, and put him out the front of the house. He wanders off without looking back. A couple of days later I see a notice on my street for a missing cat. It has the ragged edges and discolouration of a poster that has been up for several weeks. And on it was a picture of that very same cat.
I felt something move inside me but I can’t quite put my finger on it.