A Bachelor's Cat
A short writing assignment for an English course
Having a pet can be one of the most rewarding experiences in one's life; it is very much like watching a child grow up. Or so they say. I have never been married or ever had a child, but I did have a pet. My cat, that is my former cat, was adorable, friendly and very playful. But along with these desirable traits came nasty habits---habits so unberable that I finally had to put my cat up for adoption. It's nice to have a pet, but sometimes even the friendliest pet can wreak havoc in the otherwise stable world of a bachelor.
Everyone told me that a bachelor needs company, and that I should get myself a pet. "What kind of pet is good for a bachelor who is not home all day?" I asked. Unanimously, my friends recommended a cat. "They're easy to care for, and don't require any attention. All they do is sleep all day." My friend's tone was most reassuring, so I took a chance and brought into my home a darling little animal: a kitten.
Pookie, pronounced "poo-key", was the good Christian name I had chosen for my new pet. She was a genuine, hard-to-find North American Tabby, grey and black striped, with generous splashes of white on her belly. Very unsure of herself, Pookie's first few steps into her new home--my apartment--were taken very cautiously. But soon she was up and about, doing all the things that "normal" kittens do. She played, chased her toys, and purred constantly. What a joy it was to have something alive in my home! I had a new friend, and somehow things weren't quite so lonely for this old bachelor.
Soon after Pookie's arrival, however, weird things began to happen. My up-to-then normal kitten began to have fun in new ways, destructive ways. At first it was cute, but then it became very annoying. The more confidence Pookie felt, the more wild became her antics. I never knew from one moment to the next where she'd be, or what she'd be doing--or wrecking.
My "normal" kitten began to explore the outer limits of her new territory: my home. She got into everything, and went everywhere. She explored behind the stove, under the refrigerator, and the insides of all the cabinets. All I needed was a flaming cat, a 'fridge full of fur, and all my food picked through! To counteract her expeditions into the unknown caverns of my abode, I wedged old soda bottles into the openings behind my major appliances, and placed heavy cider bottles in front of the cabinets to keep them from being pried open by curious claws. This was not an attractive solution, and because of the horrid appearance of my barricades I was too embarassed to have anyone visit, and would probably have lost my lease if the landlord ever showed up.
Shortly after her expeditions were over, Pookie found the Rubbermaid trash can in the kitchen. Obviously a fan of modern art, my cat found it appropriate to arrange the contents of the trash can on the kitchen floor in unusual mosaic patterns. Warhol she was not, but he would have been proud of her just the same. "Oh, that's normal for a kitten. She'll calm down," my friends again reassured me. To this day, the trash can is still screwed tightly to the wall, just in case the cat ever comes back. Modern art is nice to se hanging in a museum, but it is most nauseating when you've just arrived home from work!
It wasn't until Pookie took up sports that I realized how much of a terror a small animal could be. In my younger days I had a dog for a pet. The only sports my dog knew were how to bark, fetch, and piddle on the rug. Cats hunt for sport, another "normal" trait. My cat saw as prey anything left in her favorite hunting ground: the coffee table in the living room. As soon as I left for work in the morning, Pookie went out on the prowl. She chose her prey very carefully: Would it be the Sony remote control today? Or would it be the Toshiba? What about a nice Cross gold pen? Pookie must have had a field day when I was at work, for when I arrived home the coffee table was often completely bare. I searched an entire week for my television's remote control once. It was under the couch with my checkbook, a few odd pieces of paper, and about three dozen pens and pencils.
I know the above descriptions are not nearly enough to justify my finding a new home for my cat, even if I add her incessant crying at nigh, the plethora of Pookie's very fine hair all over the place, and her unusual habit of swinging back and forth with her claws deeply embedded in my drapes. Although I spent $30 on a scratching post that "all cats love", she still insisted on using the new furniture to sharpen her claws. This may not even justify her untimely removal from my home, even with all the other examples of Pookie's destructive prowess.
But a few weeks ago Pookie almost burned the house down.
Pookie's latest "normal" undertaking at the time was seeking higher ground by jumping high up onto things. She got very good a jumping up onto my kitchen counter, so she decided to try hopping up onto something new: the stove.
The gas stove I have in my apartment is perhaps the cheapest piece of American construction since the K-car. It requires little exertion to turn on the gas and adust the burner; a stiff breeze could do it. While I was away at work, Pookie decided to seek her higher ground, and chose the stove. She reared back and bounded mightily into the air...and missed. Her leg caught the knob for the right-front burner, and in the process of trying to pull herself up onto the stove, she rotated the knob to the left. A terrified cat she must have been as the gas burner ignited and came to life right in front of her face, and she wound up with badly singed whiskers to give evidence of the experience. Immediately Pookie took refuge in the basement, her favorite hiding place. And she left the gas on.
When I arrived home that evening, I walked into a steamy sauna, and to a strange hissing sound. Panicked, I rushed to the basement stairs to listen for the furnace, which sounded fine. I darted to the kitchen where I saw the blue flame, at full blast, jutting and waving from the top of the stove. Hurriedly, I turned the knob to the right and shut the burner off. I figured the gas had to have been on for at least six to eight hours, since the temperature in every room of my apartment was 84 degrees---in the wintertime! What's worse, if Pookie had turned on the rear burner, she probably would have set ablaze the shade in the window behind the stove. My landlord would not have appreciated a call letting him know that his house was in cinders--I would have had a lot of explaining to do!
The gas stove episode spelled the end of my period of pet ownership; it got too hectic to keep an eye on a pet that doesn't require "any attention." Fortunately, I was able to find another lonely bachelor at work who wanted a pet, and, with a little persuation and a little white lying about my cat's behavior, I convinced him to take Pookie off my hands. The soda and cider bottles are gone now, and I'm even toying with the idea of unbolting the trash can from the wall. Strangely, I even sometimes miss my little bundle of joy. I often drive by the house in which Pookie is living now, and see her sitting quietly in the window. I really do hope he's taking very good care of her...
But if I know Pookie, she's taking care of him.