The Cat Who Loved Me

I am one of those people. 

Cat owners know me on sight. They feel my loathing. Cats, of course, are cunning … and they know me right away, as well. They make a big pretense of sliding up to me and entwining their snakey selves around my legs or shoulders so that I will haplessly try to avoid them and they will be able to go to their owners with pleading eyes and tele-communicate–she hates me. I was only trying to be nice. More tuna please.

I have written more about cats than any other person who doesn’t like them. I realize that this is very strange. This may be my second or third essay-lette on this website about my cat avoidance. I have quoted Charles Portis in True Grit, “I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces?” Although I have been told (many times) that this is psychosomatic, I also am very, very allergic to cats and once almost succumbed to asthma on a plane flight while delivering a very nice kitten to my agent. 

All this said, I don’t think that, until now, I have ever told anyone how a cat sundered my relationship with one of my few blood relatives. I was invited to stay with a relative at her Florida mansion, bringing my (then) young sons. The first night, sensing my alarm, my relative’s cat (Maggie, although not, I believe named after the character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) saw an easy target and threw herself on my lap, my shoulder, my head. Subtly, not wishing to offend, I gently pushed Maggie off the couch. “How dare you abuse one of my animals?” my host cried out. 

I promised to leave in the morning. But that night, as my children and I tried to sleep, we heard the door opening to the room we’d been allotted. In came … you guessed it, Maggie, who promptly leaped up on the bed. I asked if I could use another room …  as there were seven other bedrooms. My relative said no. I asked if Maggie could use another room, just for that night. My relative said, “It’s her room. There’s nothing I can do about it.” 

I never saw the relative or the cat again. I’m glad about both.

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