So Beth and her fiance have gone to his sister's wedding in Tahoe, and I offered to cat-sit for them because their only other option was the questionably sane woman who lives next door (as an aside, if you are a 38-year-old virgin, you might consider that perhaps the "hand-turned mahogany wand with real unicorn hair" that you bring to parties, or your insistence on relating your Blair Witch-inspired revenge on a neighbor who doesn't like Halloween just may have something to do with it), and Beth's fiance does not want the woman in their house. They are broke (his family is paying for them to fly to the wedding), so I offered to sit for their cats, because I know what it is to leave your pets in the hands of someone you know. The cats also know me somewhat.
There's only one problem: the cats freak me out.
There are two, both boys: One who's all black, and one who looks like a little feline cow: white and fat with black spots all over.
They are both declawed and sadly have that schizoid, neurotic personality that many declawed cats exhibit: highly defensive, somewhat aggressive and unpredictably hostile, and very prone to biting. OK. Black boy has bitten people and drawn blood when they were patting him. One minute, he's fine; suddenly, there's a snarl, a hiss, and a wound worthy of a tetanus shot. Fortunately, I was not the subject of this discovery, so I just talk to him and don't touch.
Cow cat is actually sweeter and likes attention, but he has this unfortunate trigger: if you walk too closely to him or try to pass him in a narrow space (like a hallway or doorway), he snarls and attacks your legs. Most of this is just rearing and swatting with his poor declawed feet, but it's not hard to imagine him following it up with teeth. And people, a cat bite is no laughing matter.
Once, I'd had a beer and went to the sun porch off the living room. Fat Boy, who likes me, followed me, purred while I scratched his head, and then attacked me when I tried to get by to return to the others in the dining room.
Several minutes later, Beth came to the sun room, where I was stretched out in a lounge chair, the cat stretched out by the door. "What are you doing?"
"He attacked me. It freaks me out, so I just thought I'd sit here until he goes away."
"Oh my God, you aren't really afraid, are you? He's a big wimp. He never hurts anyone."
"He never hurts you. He knows you. Black cat never bites you, either, but his latest victim almost went to the ER."
The crazy thing is, Fat Cow Cat LIKES me. He follows me around, purring, looking for attention. And I truly like him. He's not trying to be a crazy beast; he's the victim of a barbaric surgery that left him feeling neurotic and vulnerable, and unable to control his Dark Side.
Oh, and he also has this extremely loud howling meow that makes it hard to tell if he's happy or chatty or upset. it sounds very Siamese.
I went to Parkview and bought a Cat Dancer. When I told Joe my dilemma he gave me a cat toy that looks like a wand with a silver star at the top and two fluffy tails, hot pink and orange, dangling from either side. In other words, exactly the kind of toy a gay man would give you to combat the feline forces of evil. Armed with these I went to the apartment. Black Cat couldn't care less about me, but Fat Cat is so needy that he's happy to see me, and follows me...down the narrow hall. Terrified that he'll suddenly turn and attack me, I talk sweetly to him and dangle the fluffy wand, which distracts him as I sidle behind.
The cat box is in the pantry, and must be cleaned every day. I turn to see Fat Boy at the door, purring and howling and wanting attention. I'm torn: I want to go give him some love, but I'm also aware that I'm in a Narrow Path of Danger and his Mr. Hyde could come out at any moment.
So my visits consist of me patting Fat Boy, who rubs himself all over me as he circles, and me fighting panic that he'll suddenly turn and savage my legs. He loves me, so he follows me though the apartment, which is one Narrow Path of Danger, which means I walk backward, plastic bag of cat shit in one hand, dangling a toy to distract him in the other, refusing to move until he's looking the other way, and feeling heartbroken that I can't just relax and take a chance on giving him some attention, which he's clearly begging for. I suspect I will have to just let him attack me, and realize he's not going to do much more than make noise.
But people, please: DO NOT DECLAW YOUR CATS.