There are and have been a lot of significant animals in my life. My fish Wesley, who is basically like a child to me, except that I often forget to change his water and feed him, but that is what the husbo is for. To remind me not to let Wesley die. But seriously, I love that fish. He just dirties up his water really fast.
There is also Shwaybi, my orange cat. The love of my life. I mean the animal love of my life. He is surly and enormous (bigger than some small dogs) and also a little conceited. He is the best thing ever. I cannot emphasize this enough. You may think your cat is great, and he or she probably is, but Shwaybi is better. Do you need proof?
EXHIBIT A: He is adorable.
I think this speaks for itself. I could list his other qualities–fierceness, an affinity to lie on things like paper or suits, his tendency to hide in closets during thunderstorms, or his intense addiction to foxtail weeds. But. I feel that no more exhibits should be displayed. He needs no more defense.
There have been other animals in my life, besides cats, like Mealy/Travis, the mealworm/beetle that was crippled because after I took him from my biology class and gave him a good home, he turned into a weird cocoon pupae, and I did not know that this was something that happened to meal worms. So I picked him up and then I may have dropped him during this crucial development stage. I will never forgive myself. He was born a gimp. And then he became encrusted in a flour tomb. And our efforts to save him only made things worse! It was heartbreaking. I cried often. That is not hyperbole.
There were also many goldfish named–well, Goldy. I think it got to Goldy the third, who I think died of stress when we first got Shwaybi. Shwaybi was…very interested in Goldy. That is to say, he very much wanted to eat him and would stare at his bowl all day, just waiting for Goldy to slip up. It’s enough to wear anyone down.
There are many, many more animals I could talk about, but it is not the time. No. Today it is time for the story about Bird, a cat with a fitting name because she made weird noises and also was MY NEMESIS.
Bird was owned by Sister #2. Sister #1 has a cat too, his name is Riley, and he is insane as well, but I will tell his story another day. Initially the cat was named “Baby” but that didn’t last long, and thank goodness. Baby is a ridiculous name for anything except a baby human. No way was I about to go around calling the cat that. “Baby…Baby, where are you?” This isn’t a Taylor Swift song, honestly.
Baby switched to Bird. Because most of my friends are cats, I know a few things about them, and wouldn’t toss this around lightly, but she was sort of insane. So much energy. She never stopped moving. She’d be all like, I want to play, no I want you to hold me, what? Why are you touching me!!!! CLAW YOUR FACE TO TINY PIECES. Then she’d wriggle around like a hostage, start running laps around the 500 square feet apartment, and screaming a terrifying scream, like she was summoning the forces of darkness. But they never showed, so she’d just go to sleep in the bathroom sink.
The constant running was annoying particularly when I’d be staying the night because Sister #2 would close the door to her bedroom and leave Bird out with me. What, no big deal, I used to think. I love cats (and actually I did love Bird, despite her insanity). She had a tendency to sprint across my body as I slept though, and it made me want to punch her in the face, but she was much too fast! Also she is a tiny fluffball, and I make a rule not to punch tiny fluffballs.
Oh, she’s under the rug, now chasing a wrapper under the couch and now she’s attached herself to my shoulder, cool. Claws are fun.
Another thing was that she was never spayed. This wasn’t her fault, obviously, and she was kept in the apartment at all times, so no unwanted kitten batches abounded, but it seemed like she was constantly in heat. And then she would sprawl on the floor and then drag herself around with her front paws, making terrifying noises to bring the man-cats to the yard. And then she’d rub against everything, so the whole place smelled weird.
I tell you these things so you have a better idea of what I was up against when I tell you the following story. Also I want to reiterate that I love Bird, despite her psychosis. But she was also a formidable foe.
I was house/cat sitting for Sister #2 for about a week. I was left detailed instructions concerning the house and a few things about Bird. Don’t let her out, leave tin foil in the bath tub, blah blah, I don’t understand Sister #2, blah blah.
THE FIRST DAY Bird makes a run for it. What a brat. I spent hours in utter panic that Sister #2 was going to come home to find no cat and then tear my arms off and then hit me with them. Finally I hear that weird clicking bird noise coming from the laundry room and she is darting around there like a maniac, and so I catch her with the help of some nets and a huge slab of meat. Just kidding. I don’t believe in nets. I caught her with my bare hands. No slab of meat either. Slabs of meat are gross.
When back in the house, I had some friends over, and Bird promptly threw up. Which made me throw up a little, so the whole thing was just madness. The puke ended up in a rag thrown onto the seat of the neighbors bicycle, though I’m a little hazy as to how that ending came about. I was already caught up in the mind games that cat was playing with me.
Now this isn’t even half of it, but the main conflict was this: Bird thought it was a good idea if she peed in the bathtub instead of her litterbox, which was four feet away. And not just once. This was a regular thing. Apparently it was what all the cool cats were doing or something. I flashed back to the note Sister #2 had left for me, and the tinfoil in the bathtub thing made a little more sense. But it still seemed silly. This needed to stop. I was going to show Bird who was boss. Also I had to shower in that thing, and cleaning cat pee out of it every morning was not my favorite activity. And I just felt like that cat was challenging me. She was all like, oh I can pee wherever I want, just try and stop me. The nerve! Well, Bird. I will try and stop you. I will.
So I thought about it, and I thought about it, and I thought about how animals mark their territory with scent using…urine. What! All I needed was to establish my dominance. Become the alpha.
So that’s how I ended up awkwardly crouching over my sister’s bathtub trying to ‘mark my scent’ and overrule Bird’s. Mom, I know this isn’t what you want to hear about your daughter, especially since you hate when I talk about urine, but can you say you are honestly surprised? Can any of you, reading this now, say you are surprised??
Well guess what. It WORKED. For about two days, until I woke up one morning to find that Bird had done her business in blatant defiance, everywhere except the tiny spot where I had…you know. Marked my territory.
This technique really could’ve worked on a lesser cat. But Bird…she was just too strong. Too strong. I lost that battle. And also the war. And also when Sister #2 came home and I told her these things, plus the fact that I may have accidentally backed her car into a ditch (but I got it out, don’t worry) she was a little upset, and will probably never ask me to house or cat sit again, but I stand by everything I did. I was trying to protect the house. Hold up the fort. Draw the battle lines. I did it all for her.
Speaking of nothing related to this, I just remember that I saw a dead raccoon the other day on the side of the road and I need to go see if he needs to be buried still. Maybe I will wear Ian’s gas mask.