Monday, January 2, 2012

Dispatches from Feline Nation: Week 16

Dear Hal and Orin,

Well, guys. We finally got you trained to do your one trick. It's nothing that will make you YouTube famous, but it's enough singing-for-your-supper to make it feel like you aren't just 10 pound dervishes with the colon health one would expect from animals that eat triangular granules of salmon-flavored horse intestines for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

First Chuck walks up the steps to the bedroom. You run along, sometimes diving in front of him, anticipating his where his foot will fall and then faking narcolepsy in that exact spot. Sometimes you nip behind him. Once in the bedroom, you take your positions beneath the bed. Chuck -- who is also now trained, one could argue -- picks up the laser pointer. You recognize the subtle jingle of the keychain and this is when you really reach your ultimate rev. Teeth bared, claws poised. He creates a small red dot in the hallway and you attack it. Hardcore. Noises from deep in your throat. Pounce. He points it further down the hall and you sprint toward it, sometimes knocking into the wall through sheer momentum, your tiny skulls whacking plaster as you turn left at the top of the staircase. He points it down the steps. You sprint, skip steps, half slide and roll, ripping at the carpeting and wait at the bottom, your tiny hearts beating, practically visible through your fur. He flicks the light into the kitchen and you match each other, leap for leap, colliding on top of the dot. Then Chuck runs back into the bedroom and barricades the door with a piece of furniture to keep you from interrupting his REM by using his nutsack as a springboard for your vaults.

You've turned the leather parts of our couch into something that resembles a teething ring. Chuck, who does more cat behavior Googling than the most serious of feline scholars, says that is because we need to find a substitute for you to scratch. He's done the math and determined this needs to be at least a ceiling-high structure. I see how this goes, our wants and needs pushed to the outer edges of the house. Me, sitting on the kitchen counter holding a Kindle while you dangle from one hairy cat arm, all Peking Acrobat, squealing with glee. I've seen "Gremlins."

Chuck came home one day to find you, Hal, playing with the water in your dish. Face flopping and poking at the drink, making rivers on the kitchen floor. So, as a substitute, he carried you into the bathroom, poured you a fresh bath and set you in the tub. You proceeded to perform water ballet with a big old smile on your face.

Orin, you've gone freegan. Every day we find a new ingredient that you love, an ingredient you found in the garbage. The day we thought you were bleeding, but it was really beet juice clinging to your fur. Onions, onion skins, garlic, garlic skins. Avocados. Cucumbers. You even crave the things that the internet promises will poison you, like tomatoes. "Turns out Orin loves chocolate," I said to Chuck while baking cupcakes. And sure enough, you turned to him with an innocent look, the corners of your mouth fur matted with chocolate. That one gave you the most toxic of cat farts, so raw and ripe they seemed human and inspired by chorizo and egg skillets.

My favorite trick is when I wrap a blanket around me and walk across the room all regal like and you guys claw at the blanket, seemingly waterskiing behind me on the wood floors.

My worst-favorite trick is how you broke both a water glass and a coffee mug in the same day.

Hal, you are a true cat. The most classic of cat pets. The kind of cat that people think of when they think cat. You play hard, sleep hard and mangle anything that moves. You don't give a shit about the soothing touch of a human hand. You recognize when you are doing something wrong, like standing on the table drinking from a coffee mug, and freeze up and act guilty the whole time you are doing it. Orin, I don't know what the hell you are. So damn cute I find it impossible to not use my coo voice while you are probably plotting how to make a pipe bomb out of pieces from your Kitty City playground and chocolate farts.

Tolerating you with all my heart,

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