Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Other Side

Pet cats have a pretty good life, with certain caveats. You only live to be 16-20, and you have to eat cat food. I don't think I'd enjoy the litter box that much. Yowling at the neighbors at 3 a.m. is probably less pleasant than keeping an agreeable smile plastered to your face while avoiding eye contact, which is how I generally deal with them. Actually the worst part of being a cat - and I base this on the experience of my own well-treated and (ahem - take the hint, honey) amply-fed Peachy - is that of not really having much of any idea who your children are.

I say this, but I can think of ways in which it would be a distinct advantage. Have you ever watched "My Super Sweet Sixteen"? I admire this show greatly, inasmuch as it serves as a cautionary tale for my own sixteen-year-old, Katie, who otherwise might exhibit tendencies in that direction. But I digress. The point, assuming there was one, was that there are situations where it would be somewhat advantageous, emotionally speaking, to forget after a week or so without any contact that your offspring had ever existed.

The unfortunate corollary to this, and it would be fair in my book to call it a deal-breaker, is that a child (kitten) can be introduced to you, and within a fairly short span of time you've forgotten that it is not actually yours. Witness the kitten my abovementioned Katie brought home at the beginning of spring break this year. "My friend just needs us to watch her this week," Katie told me. "We'll take her back after break. "

If anyone on Earth knows how long break can last, you'd think, it really should be me.

Naturally, the kitten was nursing on Peachy within a few short weeks; naturally, the kitten, now nearly as large as her "mother," routinely knocks Peachy over to demand some nursies, or perhaps a tussle. Peach doesn't care. She purrs, but deep in her eyes is that long-suffering look known to all maternal creatures since time immemorial.

"We could get another kitten," I mentioned to my kids, "and after a week or so, Peachy would never know. She'd just be sitting there, nursing it, thinking, 'Why did I go and do this again?'"

I shouldn't give them ideas. Eric, who lives with his grandmother now, recently adopted a new kitten. She's at least 10 times tinier than our kitten. He brought it over to visit. Our kitten gave it one sniff and promptly dashed off to hide behind the stove. She reacted the same way when my friend Robbie brought his young miniature Dachshund over in a crate so we could have movie night. The puppy was whining. My kitten hid from the sound of whining.

I make fun of it, but I'm pretty much the same way about the dentist.

Being a human ain't bad, but my gosh, you end up having to take care of so many cats.

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