Our cat thinks she rules our house.
Well, she sort of does rule it, like any other cat.
She also thinks she can walk in and out of our house anytime she wants.
And apparently she can because she does. A lot.
All of this behavior isn’t unusual for a cat, but it is annoying for me.
See, our cat has no consideration for my mental health.
When she’s out there, wandering our new property, which is near some woods that are inhabited by bears, foxes, raccoons, and who know what else, I sit inside and waffle between hoping she isn’t killed by a wild creature to hoping she dies so I can stop worrying.
It isn’t just that I worry about her. There are others in the equation.
I’ll miss her if she dies, of course. I’m fond of her.
She’s not the most cuddly cat ever but sometimes she climbs on me and shoves her claws into my flesh while she kneads and draws blood, purring the whole time and sometimes she screams at me to put her up by her food and I do and she lets me pet her, and every night she yowls for someone to turn the water on in the faucet in our bathroom and I’m the only one who does it (sometimes my son does actually, but it sounds better to say I’m the only one. ) so I guess we have some sort of connection.
The real issue isn’t only my worry our cat — who we named Pixel when she came to live with us in 2017 — will die. It’s my worry that our cat will die and I’ll have to tell the kids she has died and how she has died.
To explain, the kids and the cat sort of tolerate each other. They aren’t really in love with each other. Still, we’ve all gotten used to her being there – taking up the foot space in our beds, scratching our couch and our kitchen floor, rolling in catnip like a stoner, screaming at 1 a.m., 2 a.m,., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. whatever time she wants because she either wants the water in the faucet turned on, the stool to get up to her food has been moved (we put it up to keep the dog out of it), she wants to go out, or she’s simply . . . a jerk.
So if she gets eaten by a fox or a bear (my daughter keeps reminding me they are mainly omnivores and yes, my 5 1/2 year old uses that word), or mauled by a raccoon, or hit by a car in front of our house, I’ll have to break it to my kids she’s dead.
I’m pretty sure they’ll be sad, and therefore, my cat is acting irresponsibly and not considering my mental health at all.
She definitely was not considering my mental health last Sunday when my son and I realized at 12:30 at night that she wasn’t in the house. We have three doors in our house – a back, a front and a side door. I went to all three doors but no cat, which is unusual, because usually she runs inside at some point, looking for food or water or to simply be a nuisance. This time, though, she was nowhere near the door.
I figured she was probably out exploring and I didn’t want to keep waiting for her.
“My life is not going to be ruled by a cat,” I grumbled, stomping up the stairs.
But I could barely sleep and I have enough trouble sleeping. I slept fitfully, dreaming of our cat being eaten by a bear or fox, or me opening the door and her finally running in.
“I’m not going to be ruled by a cat,” I told myself each time I woke up from a scary dream of her nocturnal demise.
I did finally sleep and in the morning my husband peeked his head in and said “Have you seen the cat?”
I informed him I had not and told him of my nightmares.
“Whatever,” he said. “If she wants to live outside, then let her.”
But then, as he was in the shower, I remembered an incident with our family cat Leonardo years ago. Yes, I named the cat Leonardo after Leonardo DiCaprio. He was dropped off at my parents’ barn as a stray and my parents said ‘Do not name him because if you name him, we have to keep him.’ So I had just watched Romeo and Juliette with Leonardo and named the cat Leonardo and my parents had to keep him because I named him.
You would think the cat would have liked me the best since I named him and my naming him meant my parents kept him, but no, he did not like me. He would rarely let me pet him. The only one he did like was my grandmother, who we all lived with at the time. They would sit together on the porch and he laid on her lap while she caressed him. She wasn’t a cat person so this was a fairly unusual thing for both of them. Unusual and touching.
Anyhow, my mom insisted: “I will not be out there yelling ‘Leonardo!'” But when Leonardo went missing one week, there she was out on the deck yelling “Leonardo!” Leonardo didn’t come back for three days and they decided he’d been killed by one of the area tomcats or a fox or maybe hit by a car and laying somewhere. That’s when my dad went out to their grainary (which used to store grain, but just stores garden equipment now) and a very skinny, very scared Leonardo ran out.
I didn’t feel like getting out of bed so I texted my husband (I know. So sad.) to check for her in the garage before he left. We aren’t parking our cars in the garage yet because we still have some of our boxes from moving in there. He texted me back that the lost had been found and later that night told me he heard her yowling before he even opened the door.
I will say, Pixel was a lot more affectionate with me that day, rubbing her head against me, laying on me, licking me. And she didn’t rush back outside that day either. She spent most of the day asleep on our bed upstairs.
Despite her affection, I could tell she had no concern for my emotional well-being and that I had been worried about her. I could tell it even more when she ran out of the house again the next day when I was letting the dog out, but I’ve decided that since she has no consideration for my mental health, I’ll stop having concern for her physical health — unless she doesn’t show up again, of course.