We have a cat. He's black and white, and he's almost 5 years old. We got him from the SPCA when he was a kitten (or as he likes to believe - kidnapped from the SPCA). The story that he came with (like one of those webkinz dolls) was that someone found him and his brother abandoned on the side of the road. We think he has a lot of angst about this inauspicious beginning because he is prone to lashing out at those who love him best (us).
Or it could be because he's named after a mouse. (Ever read A Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter? That was in high rotation for the girls around the time we adopted Tom).
Or because he thinks he is the Alpha Male of the Pride (after me).
Whatever the reason, it's impossible for me to continue this blog without mentioning the furry member of our family (or as I like to call him in a low-movie-trailer-like-voice - My mother's arch enemy!) The two of them really don't get along and it's rather amusing. But I'll get to this a little later.
Anyway, Tom is an indoor cat, who doesn't want to be an indoor cat, unless, of course, it's raining, snowing, or he's hungry. He is constantly trying to get outside - it's actually his talent, I think. In fact, our girls are always amazed at cats who don't try to constantly get outside. One time, my mother-in-law was reading one of the girls a book where an illustration was of a cat next to an open door. Apparently, our child asked "Why isn't the cat trying to get outside?"
So why won't we just let him be an outdoor cat? Well, one of the main reasons is that I'm not going to pay to take care of a cat that just wanders around the neighborhood. We have several of those that don't belong to us, and frankly, I find them annoying. We got a cat for animal companionship, and by golly, that's what I'm going to get! Companionship! Even if I have to get it by force!
(SIDENOTE: My wife's idea to keep him close to the house whenever he escapes was to plant catnip around the house. Needless to say, the idea was nixed by me, which when I explained to her, she LOL'd. The last thing I want is every cat in the county spraying and hanging around our house. Not to be mean to my lovely wife, but I have to say, and I did say, it was one of the dumbest suggestions I think I ever heard. She still laughs about it.)
Back to the topic. Another reason is because we are surrounded by woods and there are a lot of foxes and raccoons around. And Tom is not that smart. Despite what he thinks about himself (I sure he's a mountain lion in his head), he would not last long in the "wild." And I really, really don't want the girls to come upon his "remains" while they are flitting around the yard pretending to be a fairy princess.
And, because we are surrounded by woods, we have a lot of fleas and ticks that are easily brought in. In time, you may find that I am slightly obsessive compulsive when it comes to ticks, as we have had a couple of cases of Lyme disease in my family.
"Don't let the cat out!" or "Shut the door so that cat doesn't get out!" These are constant refrains in our house. We used to be able to lock Tom in the basement where his catbox is, but he's managed to break the little cat door so that we can't lock it. This cat is persistent.
Every once in a while he gets out for a long period of time and so I have to give him a bath and check him for fleas and ticks. (My allergist said I should do that anyway - the bath part. It cuts down on the dander.) You'd think this would discourage him, but it doesn't. He's just a really clean cat.
Then, he's also incredibly grumpy at times. He HATES my Mom and Dad. Every time they come over, he growls and hisses and swipes at them. He's also not thrilled with any of the girls. My wife, he tolerates. I guess I'm his favorite. But then again, I am the one that feeds him and cleans his catbox, so I guess he doesn't want to burn that bridge. And then, sometimes we have guests and he'll jump right up on their laps and pretend to be the nicest cat in the world.
Sometimes you can't predict what you are going to get with Tom. But he's the only other male in the house, so I need to keep him around. After all, it's good for the girls to have a brother.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.