How Many Cats Is Too Many Cats?
By Brad Pike
Two cats is a perfectly reasonable number of cats. No one will question two cats — unless you’re a man maybe. Three cats, and you can only be a cat person. Four cats, and you’re a crazy cat person. Five cats, and you’re an animal hoarder. This is a bunch of balderdash, codswallop, and claptrap spread by the anti-cat media, these pretentious bourgeoisies with their stable relationships and healthy social lives. These #pfsi (Perfectly Fit For Social Interaction) people who “go outside” and “have careers.” Maybe we want a different lifestyle. Maybe we want to be surrounded by creatures that are infinitely lovable, but ultimately do not and will never feel love for us as a proxy for society. Maybe we don’t want the easy automatic loyalty of a dog. Maybe we want a pet whose default expression is a supercilious glare.
If I had a stable living situation, a large house, and no one to judge me, I would stock the place with cats the way a pond is stocked with fish. Everywhere you turn — cat. On the table — cat. On the couch — cat. On the window — two cats. The walls would have a series of platforms for cats to perch on and glower down from like gargoyles. The living room would be converted into a kitty playground with carpeted tubes and cardboard boxes. Is that a bathtub in the kitchen? No, it’s an enormous cat genie litter box which cleans itself automatically and plugs directly into a sewage pipe. Wouldn’t it be better placed in the laundry room or the bathroom? Not important, stop asking questions.
For one special cat, a black cat, an aggressive hateful cat, I would purchase red contact lenses, and dress him/ her in an enormous black cloak. I would surgically replace its canines with poison filled fangs. This cat would be named Death, and she would stalk the house, lurking in dark shadowy corners. If I have guests, I would warn them, “Watch out for Death! She could strike from anywhere at anytime!” The best pets are ever present reminders of one’s mortality.
If I could have any job, it would be as a Cat Friend. People would call me — “Hello? I need to book a Cat Friend for 3:30 please.” — and I would arrive in a huge white van equipped with brushes, laser pointers, catnip, tuna, and balls of yarn. While the client engaged in essential non-cat related activities like eating, going to the bathroom, and laundry, I would pet the cat — I would pet the cat for hours. Hours and hours. Hours and hours and hours. If the cat got bored of being petted, I would find other ways of entertaining him/ her, utilizing my Stimulation Enhancers — bottle caps and strips of aluminum foil. I would be the utmost professional as I would have attended the — as of yet unfounded — Cat Friend Trade School where students are locked in a pitch black room with a dozen cats for four years with no human contact or communication with the outside world.
Pouring out my paltry supply of affection into a being incapable of fully understanding or appreciating it is what my life’s all about. It’s what I’m best at. Even on a full stomach, if given a choice between love and a piece of imitation crab meat sculpted into a fish shape, a cat will always choose the tasty treat. If placed in a different home, the cat will forget its owner almost immediately. A cat, upon seeing its owner’s rotting corpse, will lick up the blood, nibble on an ear, and then go take a nap on the laptop keyboard. A cat wants to get away from you, wants to go outside, wants to flee far away, and only return for food. And that’s fine, perfectly acceptable, no big deal — they’re still soft and cuddly, and I will hold him like a little baby even though he hates it.
I have no cats. I used to have two, but now I have none. None! And the void in my life is almost a tangible thing, a cat shaped outline that follows me from room to room, haunting me, gnawing at my soul. Whenever I visit someone who owns cats, I disengage from the conversation and become interested only in cat petting. “Where did Brad go?” “Oh, he’s in my room, trying to coax Panda out from under the bed.” Whenever someone mentions that he/ she owns cats, I — without a trace of sarcasm — ask to see photos on his/ her phone. My eyes become hungry mouths, devouring cat photo after cat photo while repeating, “Cute,” like an eerie mantra.
I had to give away my cats when I moved to a new place that didn’t allow pets due to a previous renter whose dogs peed all over the carpet. My first cat I gave away on Craigslist to two actors from The Hills Have Eyes — or at least that’s what they looked like to me. The second cat, the one I raised from a tiny kitten, escaped from a friend’s house and began roaming wild through the neighborhood.
For weeks, I didn’t see her, and then one day, while on my way to an exam, I spotted her slinking around on someone’s lawn. We both froze. I knew as soon as I moved, she’d sprint away, and I’d never catch her. I also knew that if I tried to chase after her, I would miss my exam. She wouldn’t approach me, didn’t even recognize me. For the longest time, we just stood there, staring at each other. Then I called her name — as if that had ever worked before — and she shot off between houses, gone. That was the last time I saw her.
I learned what charcoal tastes like, what hospitals smell like, what a mother’s desperate grip feels like. When I was little, she would sometimes grab my wrist instead of my hand to cross the street. I always asked if she was mad when she did this. She never was.
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