Let me begin by stating categorically that I am not prejudiced against cats. I’ve known many felines who were outstanding citizens. I’ve welcomed cats into my home on many occasions. Some of my best friends have cats. I think cats should have the same opportunities as anyone else. I’m just not comfortable with my daughter having a committed relationship with one.
I do my best to be non-judgmental and supportive, but it’s hard to sit back and say nothing when your children make choices that will make their lives more difficult. It’s even harder when those choices make my life more difficult.
It all began when my daughter graduated from massage therapy school and chose to move back home. The plan was for her to stay with me until she found a place to live.
She moved in—with her garage full of stuff and her two cats.
I figured this arrangement would be for a few days only. After all, the newspaper had full columns of ads for rental houses and apartments.
It turned out, though, that almost none of those rentals would accept pets. So the few days stretched into a week, and then nearly two, and there were no prospects in sight for permanent housing.
I love my daughter dearly. She’s bright, loving, even-tempered, and fun to have around. She’s also severely tidiness-challenged. The clutter was creeping out of the guest room and taking over. Clothes mysteriously disappeared out of my closet. Shoes–too small to be mine–appeared in the middle of the living-room floor. Half the time I couldn’t find the telephone.
Clearly, something had to be done. The chief impediment to her finding a place of her own was the cats. The obvious solution? The cats had to go.
What I needed was a good, old-fashioned catastrophe. Yet I had to be careful—I didn’t want anything to happen that could be traced back to me. It had to look like an accident.
I started out by writing down all the ideas I could think of—my catalyst.
The first step was a whispering campaign. “Wyoming,” I would tell the cats. “Did you know Wyoming has the juiciest, fattest mice in the whole country? Gophers, too—lots of them. A cat with any ambition at all can have a wonderful life in Wyoming.” They didn’t take the hint.
I tried a different approach. We’ve all heard the stories of lost pets making their way hundreds of miles to get back home. Hoping to inspire the cats to do likewise, I read them excerpts from Lassie Come-Home. They were unimpressed; maybe it was a mistake to choose a story about a dog.
It was time to get ugly. I borrowed my mother’s copy of 101 Uses for a Dead Cat and left it, open to one of the gorier cartoons, lying casually near the cats’ food dish. They merely yawned.
I prayed for a cat burglar. None appeared.
I pondered ways to lure a mountain lion into the neighborhood—one that wouldn’t scruple to dine on its relatives. Reluctantly, though, I had to abandon that plan when I realized it would merely replace one cat problem with another.
My hopes soared one night when we had a huge thunderstorm. One of the cats was safely shut into the garage, but the other one was nowhere to be found. I slept well that night, smiling to myself. One down, one to go.
In the morning, though, the missing cat appeared. She had spent the night, warm and dry, in my daughter’s car. She apparently had slept even more soundly than I had, perhaps because she was curled up so cozily on my favorite sweater.
By now I was becoming desperate. I began having fantasies of increasing violence. I considered building a machine that would launch the whiskered interlopers off the back deck—a catapult. I began seeing images in my mind of two stuffed felines above the fireplace—catamounts. I wondered what the market might be for catgut.
Still, I couldn’t see how to accomplish any of these without leaving evidence of foul play. Besides, some of them were simply too category.
As many problems do, this one finally resolved itself. One wonderful morning, we found a landlord with an affordable house, who uttered the magic words, “Cats? Sure. Cats are no problem.”
So they moved on.
I helped my daughter load her stuff. I watched her drive away, with two little whiskery faces pressed to the back window of the car. I smiled and waved.
Then I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I sat down to drink it, so relieved I could hardly move. It was a soothing, refreshing catatonic.
Now, I enjoy the tranquility of my feline-free house. There are times, though, when I seem to get the feeling that someone is watching me. Or I think I catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye.
Then I have to get up and check the house, just to make sure they’re really gone. Once I’ve done so, I can relax again—reassured by the negative results of my cat scan.