Shortly after we got married, my husband started begging for a cat. I was torn: I wanted to make him happy, but I’d never had a pet, and the idea of living with an animal made me nervous.
“It’s the opposite,” Mark assured me. “A cat will help you relax.”
At the shelter, I picked out a Garfield-esque blob who seemed lazy enough not to bother me. Her name was Inspector Frost, which I shortened to the Inspector because it suited her rotundness. Mark petted her like a madman as I drove home. I am a good spouse, I repeated to myself.
Within 15 minutes of arriving home, the Inspector peed all over my reading chair. Then she sauntered over to our sofa and “inspected” that, too. I was dumbfounded. “She’s scared,” Mark explained. “This is new for her.” But what about me? This is new for me! Should I start peeing in random spots around the apartment, too?
A week later, we had no upholstered furniture left and the Inspector had no remorse at all. She begged for food, then clawed my legs while I opened the 9Lives. “I cannot live with this cat,” I proclaimed, my legs bleeding, my skin reeking of Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer. My husband pleaded with me not to lose faith. “Look how cute she is!” he said.
The Inspector had Mark wrapped around her little paw in no time. Every night I would come home to find her sprawled on top of him in bed. They’d both have their eyes closed and she’d be purring up a storm. Oh, I see how it is, I seethed. First you destroy my house, then you steal my husband.
For four years, I put up with the Inspector and even grew to appreciate certain things about her. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I made her purr. I liked when she walked by and nonchalantly brushed against my legs, and I couldn’t help but smile at how she plopped on top of everything I was doing. Yes, cats can be charming. But the arrogance! The entitlement!
When I got pregnant with our first child, we gave the Inspector to a friend. I won’t lie — I didn’t miss her too much. (Mark was bereft; I still feel bad about this.) And yet I’m thankful to this haughty creature, who passed away several years ago, for teaching me something I never knew about and now respect: cattitude. Cats don’t give a damn. Their MO is to obtain pleasure, and they don’t pretend otherwise.
Today, 20 years later, I find myself in a similar conundrum. I don’t really want another cat, but our kids are begging for one and Mark is doing nothing to dissuade them. Do I please the people I love, or do I please myself? I know exactly what the Inspector would do, and yet here I am, considering getting another cat. Inspector, did you teach me anything?