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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.13.04
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The day the cat walked in

Earlier this year I was relishing our home's single-pet status. We were down to one self-contained hamster and that's the way I liked it. As I mentioned then, the kids weren't content with my generously allowing even this rodent in the house. They wanted something bigger, something slobbering, something I could trip over.

"C'mon, Dad. Why don't you want a dog? You're the only person in the house who doesn't want a dog. It's five to one," they argued.

"Since when is this a democracy?" I replied.

Nonetheless, closed-door negotiations (or, as I like to call them, "pressure tactics"), began, with Deb being the pro-pet spokeswoman. She started at dog, I started at goldfish, and I figured we'd settle somewhere around cat.

We were still hammering out terms and conditions when one Saturday about a month ago, the kids cried, "A kitten just walked into the house!"

Sure enough, a black and white cat about six months old had made itself at home.

Hmmm…suspicious. Was someone trying to pull a fast one? Was my no-pet autocracy undergoing a kitty coup? Was I being paranoid?

Deb assured me that I was. But this cat didn't look like it was going anywhere.

The children dutifully scoured the neighborhood looking for the owner. They drew up "found" posters to post around town. But of course in their hearts, the cat was already theirs.

"If we don't find the owner, can we keep him?"

"We're going to find the owner!" I insisted, not wanting to weaken my negotiating position.

Four days went by. The children tossed around names. We considered "Van Gogh" because it had a little goatee-like spot on its chin. Then I realized that this type of beard was called a "Van Dyke."

Van Gogh was the artist who cut off his ear. Van Dyke was the one married to Mary Tyler Moore.

We needed something fairly neutral because we weren't sure if it was a boy or a girl cat. I suggested "Aretha."

We settled on "Moe." Of course, we should have called it "Unclean Parasitic Host" because it was accessorized with a colony of fleas.

The cat settled in. When we'd open the door to see if it would take off, it would just wander around the yard and make cute with bugs and grass. Oh yes, it knew exactly what it was doing…

On the fourth day, there was a knock at the door.

"Yup, that's our cat," said the woman.

Actually, the cat belonged to her sister-in-law, who had just moved into a place that didn't allow pets so the woman was looking after it along with her own couple of cats and…did we want to keep it?

Silence. In the distance, I heard a malevolent chortle. I think it was the cat.

So now we have a cat. We're just about to get Abby out of diapers and we have stinky litter to deal with once again. I don't know why the cat can't just do its business in our vegetable garden like all the other neighborhood pets.

It's also a meower. It wanders the house at 5 a.m. meowing no reason at all. It makes us sneeze. It scratches the furniture. It has fleas. It gets underfoot. Its cat food smells atrocious. Did I mention the litter?

So, no, I'm not crazy about the cat. I'm putting up with it for the kids and because fate seems to think we need a cat. I had no say in the matter. Which was pretty much how the negotiations were going to end up anyway.

As for the hamster, next time it escapes, the bottom of the furnace will probably look pretty good.

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