Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Live with a Cat (and Cat-Lover) as a Dog Person

  About a month ago, Jacob and I returned home from a visit to his parent's house with a bit of cargo we had not arrived there with. My sweet mother-in-law always sends us home with some gift she picked up for us (set of dishes, ironing board & iron, little needed houeshold items, etc.), but this time we came home not with a gift, but a curse: Nicolae the demon cat.

  Nicolae is known at Jacob's parents house as a monster. He likes to charge at innocent bystanders, biting their calves and leaving bruises and welts that last for days. In his spare time, he likes to find dark spots in the house and camp out there, waiting for people to walk by so he can attack. Needless to say, I did not want any part of this cat. My husband is very much a cat person though, and when he mentioned how much he has been wanting a kitty to his mom, she instantly volunteered Nicolae. The rest is history.

  How have I managed to live with this cat and his overly enthusiastic owner (my husband)? The truthful answer is: hardly. I'm going to share with you how I, devoted dog-lover that I am, have survived this past month living with Nicolae the demon cat. Hopefully this will help some other poor unfortunate soul.

1. Always remember that you are NOT dealing with a dog. However much you may want a dog, the cat is not magically going to become one. Therefore, aggressively rubbing the cat is not a good idea. Nor is it a good idea to chase them around. Or stroke his or her tail. These actions will not be considered "play" to the cat, and will likely result in the cat either hiding behind the washer for a few days or a vicous attack.

2. Do not chase the cat with a vacuum cleaner. Hilarious though it may be, it will result in the cat hiding for hours and your husband being very peeved at you and accusing you of animal abuse.

3. Make sure the cat cannot get under your bed. Some cats like to get under beds and couches and tear holes in the lining beneath them so that they can climb up inside of it. Nicolae is one of these cats. For the first week that he lived with us, he lived inside of our bed. Every day, Jacob would have to completely dismantle the bed just to get him out. We tried everything; every day we would make sure every crack and crevice was stuffed with pillows or blankets so that the cat couldn't get in, but he would always find a way. Some cat owners have had to nail plywood to the bottom of their beds to keep their cats from getting in; we were about a heartbeat away from doing this when the cat finally stopped altogether.

4. Respect the cat's space. Remember that quote, "Years ago, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this?" It's totally true. Unless you worship the cat (like my husband does), you are disposable to him. Therefore you must choose between two options: worship the cat. Buy him all kinds of toys and always be interested in what he's doing, pet him in the way he wants to be petted, etc., OR leave him be. I have chosen the second option. I am not a cat-lover and I am not about to pretend to be one. So Nicolae and I have an understanding. I respect his space and he respects mine...for the most part.

5. Understand that you will sometimes be attacked for no good reason. Cats are more loyal than they seem. Since my husband worships the cat, his loyalty is with him. Which means that when my husband punishes the cat for any reason, the cat's rage will be taken out on me. I know this. I accept it. He's been de-clawed, so that makes this truth a little more bearable.

6. Set limits for your cat-lover. I just learned this one yesterday. As a newly married couple, Jacob and I don't have a lot of money. We are trying hard to save, but something always seems to come up. Which is why I find it a wee bit ridiculous that Jacob won't stop buying toys for Nicolae! Every time we get paid, Jacob goes to the store and buys a new squeaky toy, a new bag of catnip, a new scratching post or castle, or any number of contraptions that involve something fuzzy hanging on the end of a string. Our roommate is starting to complain. Finally, yesterday, after Jacob bought the cat a tunnel to play in, I told him, "You have to stop buying toys for Nicolae." He already knew it, but sometimes a cat-lover just has to hear it from someone else.

7. Do not touch the cat with your foot. There will be consequences.

8. Do not touch the cat's tail, lower back, stomach, or back paws. If you must touch him, stroke him gently behind the ears, and never get too rough. Or...there will be consequences.

9. If you are even slightly allergic to cats, always wash your hands after touching them and never hold them against your skin. I have learned this the hard way.

10. Enjoy them=) Cats are evil. That is an undeniable truth. But sometimes, even pure evil can be really cute when it climbs inside of a box or traps itself in a Wal-Mart bag!

  Cats are complex creatures and there are probably a million more rules for living with them. These are just the top ten things I've learned while living with Nicolae this past month. Hopefully, as I said before, they benefit some other poor, unfortunate soul whom fate has stuck with one of these creatures.