My wife received an inheritance when her sister passed away. It isn’t anything that’s going to allow us to retire any sooner. In fact, I’m probably going to have to take on a second job because of it. No, she didn’t leave us a pile of debt. I wish that were all it was; debt I could manage. What she left us was much more problematic—namely, her two cats.
That doubles the number of felines in our house. And for some reason, it has more than doubled the net output of cat poop. To my wife’s credit, she has taken responsibly for cleaning the litter boxes. To that end, I’m surprised at how quickly she’s taken to operating a backhoe.
The production of cat hair has also skyrocketed. I’d be called a cat hair baron if it were a marketable commodity.
Our new houseguests are named Maverick and Carlton. (I call them guests, but the reality is more that they are the masters of the house and we are their humble servants.) About the only thing that the two toms have in common is the operation that removed a specific part of their anatomy, and I’m not talking claws here.
Maverick, the spunky one, is oblivious to the fact that he’s had this operation. In fact, he believes himself to be the Hugh Hefner of cats. Unfortunately for him, the two females see him more as the invading Visigoth, and they react to his advances the way a mail carrier would to a rabid pit bull. Thus spurned, Maverick has now aimed his mojo at targets that are less likely to put up resistance, such as pillows, stuffed animals, and the occasional wet bath towel.
Maverick has a sensitive urinary tract, which, I’m sure, is in part related to his choice of sex partners. Because of this, he is restricted to a special prescription diet that you can only get from a veterinarian. By definition, this puts the cost at several times what you’d pay for Purina Cat Chow, and because the President neglected to include coverage for cats with pre-existing conditions in his Affordable Health Care plan, we’re on the hook for every penny.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to feed the stuff to all four of our cats. But cats are not exactly known for respecting each other’s food bowls, and given the chance at some Friskies Savory Salmon, Maverick would forget all about that Prescription Diet that, to him, probably ranks just above pine bark in palatability. I can’t say I blame him. If I were in a hospital with two broken legs, and somebody brought in a quarter pounder and fries, I’d jump out of bed for it, knocking over the tray of mystery meat with the side of cold, soggy green beans that the hospital provided. I wouldn’t care that they were billing me a hundred dollars for it.
For a Yankee cat, Maverick has taken well to Louisiana. He’s become especially enamored of the native reptile population. And, as anoles are quickly becoming an endangered species in our yard, he is beginning to set his sights higher up the food chain. The frogs and turtles have begun migrating to a refugee camp across the highway. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on the cast of Swamp People.
Carlton is another matter. He has mastered the art of How Not To Be Seen. They only way I know that he really exists is from the hairballs that he is fond of depositing in my favorite chair. He tries to be sneaky about it, but he is the only cat in our house with black hair. Nice try, old boy. Just don’t slip up in the visibility department. Louisiana roadsides are not strictly reserved for armadillos.
Now, I realize that this last statement will invoke the ire of cat lovers across the region—most notably, my editor, Lauren, who happens to be the Octomom of the cat world. Don’t get me wrong; I would never toss a poor, defenseless creature like Carlton onto a busy highway to be run over by a tractor-trailer. I’d go find some malicious kid to do it for me. Besides, given Carlton’s proficiency at hairball production, combined with Not Being Seen, the truck driver could easily wind up being the victim in such a confrontation.
So, I think I’ll be keeping Maverick and Carlton; humped pillows, hairballs, and all. Besides, what’s one lounge chair and a litter box the size of a swimming pool in the grand scheme of things? The cats make my wife happy. They remind her of her sister.
They remind me more of those creatures in that Gremlins movie. But, I’m the guy in the relationship, and so my opinion plus the trade-in value of my F-150 would together buy a month’s worth of Prescription Pine Bark Diet.