The marketability of feline fodder is apparent with the recent movie premiere of Keanu; a comedic romp about a kitten who is dangerously coveted by gangbangers and rescued by comedy duo Key and Peele. This farce inspired my own tabby tale of mishaps and adventures.
I have always been a cat lover. Hence my nickname Kat. My fetish for all things leopard print includes, scarfs, sunglasses, purses, shoes, sleepwear and throw blankets. It has become my signature style. Even the front covers of my writing journals are graced with images of cats to reflect the stages of my life’s journey. Demure, coy, sassy, bold and most recently regal. But of late, I have begun to reevaluate my relationship to these fur balls and ask myself what do I really know about cats?
Meet Fonzie. The feline formerly known as Cosmo. The wretched cat owners before me chose the name Cosmo keeping with the weird behavior patterns of similarly named television characters such as Cosmo Kramer from Seinfield. But I didn’t want a crazy cat. I wanted a cool cat. So I changed his identity and the Fonz was born.
I agreed to pet sit for a colleague who was set to vacation in California for a week. At the end of the 7 days, she told me via text that she would not be returning and hoped the cat could stay. My ex said I should be honored that the woman left him with me, it proves that she believed I have a “good heart.” But my relocation to China was, in part, an attempt to shirk all semblance of responsibility. Caring for a pet does not fit that mold. It’s like having a perpetual infant at home who you need to feed, bathe, and clean up after for the rest of its life. I am not interested in such a burden. Especially since I find him unusually odd. But my 20 year old thinks he’s a genius and declares his un-catlike antics “cool”. So what to do?At present, my role is to grin and bear it like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. But at times, I want to fling him off the balcony and watch him spiral 23 floors downwards. I could also kindly open my front door and let him venture into the wild (otherwise known as my residential community) and pray that some poor bloke adopts him or skins him for dinner. These are suggestions from well meaning friends equally appalled at my newfound chore. But I’m no animal cruel-tist, so to avoid PETA protests and animal rights activists, he remains an unfettered member of my family. However, unlike them, Fonzie waits by the door when I come home from work and sits at my feet while I eat, watch TV or just lounge around the house. He also enjoys getting sprayed with running water in the shower before I get in.
Despite his affection, the evidence of a cat is quite troublesome. The shedding hair, the smell, the constant meowing, the rip roaring through the house in the wee hours of the morning and the scratching of furniture despite the existence of two scratching poles. Far worse, was the fact that he was unneutered upon arrival. As a male cat, he has a tendency to spray his foul odor in designated areas to mark his turf. I dreaded taking him to the vet to pay for an unforeseen procedure that was not in my budget. But I realized, despite the expense, I could not allow cost to outweigh comfort.
On our first trek to the vet, I stuffed Fonz in a knapsack to get him snipped. But I ended up at a vet that spoke zero English. So, I called a Chinese acquaintance to convey my message. At the end of the conversation, she told me to leave because the procedure was too expensive at that location. She referred me to an animal doctor that was far cheaper and more foreigner friendly. The second trek brought me to a clinic whose English was limited, accused Fonzie of being a stray and told me that the doctor would arrive in over an hour. My frustration grew. Once again, I called my pet liaison who clarified all matters and I waited impatiently for the doctor to arrive. It was a whole day affair.
Poor Fonz was not fond of all the attention he received. The poking and probing was too much for him to endure. He literally became a scared-y cat. I watched as they gently gave him a manicure (the proper way) and laid him upon the operating table. He was weighed, then had blood extracted to determine if he was healthy enough for the operation. He was. While he was anesthetized, I was taken to lunch by the vet’s assistant who also helped me shop for a traditional cat carrier; which I bought in leopard print. For five days, Fonz was forced to wear a cone of shame to prevent him from licking and irritating his wound. But his spirit was beat and he moped around miserably unable to do what he enjoyed best…drive me mad and wreak havoc in my house. It was then, that I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to care and nurture him out of his depressed state. I cooed and cuddled him and reassured him that soon, he would be free from the strait jacket attached to his head. I waited with anticipation. I don’t know who was more excited.
Like Keanu, the story has a happy ending. Both kitties, are adopted into homes with caring humans who give of their time, love and money to keep them safe. It’s not the path I would have chosen to acquire a pet, but its the hand I have been dealt. For now, from the Kat’s eye, I am the new wretched owner. Fonz is my cool and crazy cat and I love him.