In defense of cats

Dog owners aren’t the only crazy ones

Photo by Tom Angel

Cat crazy: This essay bears a pen name, to protect the embarrassed. The author was once offered a high-paying job at Cat Fancy magazine but feared Irvine, Calif., would be an unwelcoming environment for Jody.

We brush our cat’s teeth. Seriously. People joke about herding cats, but there are those of us who actually do it. It’s an almost-nightly task that involves a high-speed chase around the living room, behind the couch, up the cat post ($120), down the other cat post ($185), behind the chair and under the bed. The win-lose ratio is about 50:50.

If we do manage to corral the cat, one of us pries open her mouth while the other moves a tiny toothbrush up and down sharp little teeth. We know they’re sharp because by this time we’ve been bitten and scratched several times. The session ends with the pronouncement: “What a good girl.” Jody looks at us like, “How dare you fools subject me to this humiliation?”

Normally, she’s allowed to do whatever she pleases, from scratching the new couch to gnawing on our elbows.

People think we’re crazy. I don’t know why.

Jody’s ninth birthday was May 30. We didn’t have a cake—this year.

She has her own scrapbook. OK, two scrapbooks.

We take turns going home at lunch to check on her. We leave a light on if we’re gone at night, and sometimes the radio.

For a while, we gave her only bottled water, but we did some research and learned that tap is actually fresher. She’s on a prescription diet, and the store knows us by name.

The fiancé and I can’t leave town at the same time unless we get a sitter, who has to pass a rigorous test involving promises to stay overnight, play with a toy black mouse at least an hour a day and keep the toilet lid down so our baby doesn’t do something so crass as drink out of it.

Our friend, Dirk, feels sorry for Jody because she’s an indoor cat. “She has to stay inside practicing the violin while all the other cats are out playing baseball,” he says.

When Jody got really sick five years ago, the vet where we lived shook her head and wrote her off. We took her to Los Angeles to a specialist, who gave her a kitty ultrasound, did kitty surgery and fixed up her kitty infection. We spent four days pacing the hospital until she was released and then took turns staying home from work to feed her through a tube in her stomach. We don’t like to talk about it. People either think it’s sweet or look at us like, “How much did that cost?” Answer: $2,600, and if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand us.

Our cat is so cool. She can run to the door to greet us like we’re her personal heroes or completely ignore us if she thinks we’ve been gone too long. We tried to teach her to walk on a leash when she was a kitten, and she would have none of it. Perhaps that’s why we give her the respect she deserves.

At our place, there’s a little song or nickname for everything involving the cat: She’s licky, she’s scratchy, she’s bitey, she’s “Joad the Toad, the best cat ever.” She’s calico, my pal-i-co. At 6 a.m., she’s our “cat alarm clock.” When she walks away from us, with disdain, we say she has a “cat appointment.”

Who needs dogs?