Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
October 29, 2006
I’m cat-sitting my friend Arman’s cat, Dinah. Dinah and I go way back, seven or eight years at least. Arman comes out to visit for a few weeks every year, and the place he stays doesn’t allow cats, so Dinah stays with us.My wife Christina and I don’t have any pets, so I look forward to Dinah’s visits, as it allows me to get my much-needed cat fix.Unfortunately, in the year since Dinah’s last visit, things have, well … changed.I meant to break it to Dinah early on, but I got caught up in the excitement of her arrival. I was going to tell her right after Arman left, leaving me alone with Dinah and the three arm loads of cat accouterments that travel with her. But I was just so excited to see her again, and I never found a graceful way to bring the topic up. I was going to sit her down and explain it all, how I still love her, but that seeing her a few weeks out of the year just isn’t enough to meet my needs.”The thing is,” I wanted to say, “I’ve started seeing another cat.”A few months ago, this neighbor cat started stopping by every morning. He was skittish at first, but soon we found out that we had a lot in common – mostly his love of Little Friskies and my ability, as an adult human, to purchase these Friskies and open the can. Soon his morning visits were followed by afternoon visits. The week before Dinah showed up, he actually stopped by at night for a snack and to play some string. He hasn’t slept over yet or anything, but I’d say that we’re pretty serious. I’m sure there’s a moral issue with feeding someone else’s cat Little Friskies, but morality is a flexible thing, and, well … love makes you break the rules, I guess.Anyway, I was going to tell Dinah all this, but before I knew it the other cat was at the door, scratching on the glass, waiting to come in for our afternoon Friskies and string-playing liaison.It was ugly. There was hissing and spitting and puffed-out tails. They faced off through the closed French doors while I tried to act casual.”So, uh, Dinah, this is Pollock. I don’t think that’s his real name, but when he drinks cream from his special bowl that we got for him he spatters it all over the wood floor, and the little white dots look like a Jackson Pollock painting. So, uh … yeah, we call him Pollock. Hey, you know … Pollock is a big fan of batting a piece of string around, too. Maybe you two could, I don’t know, hang out and discuss your similarities or something. That’d be cool.”Dinah is an older cat, nearly 15, and this whole open-cat relationship thing is not really part of her generation – or so I gathered by the way she let out hissing sounds that would make Satan shiver. Awkward.”Hey, tell you what – I’ve got a brand new can of Friskies here – Spleen and Liver in Rich Gravy – why don’t we crack that open and we can all sit down and, you know…”More hissing. Sheesh…I stepped quickly outside to talk to Pollock. I reached down to scoop him up like I always do and he made a sound that I translated as: “Unless you like the sight of your own blood, I wouldn’t touch me.”He started walking away.”Dinah’s like family,” I called after him. “This doesn’t change the way I feel about you. And she’s only here for a few weeks, then things will go back to how they were. Can’t we do that? Can’t we have things like they used to be?”I could hear Dinah hissing through the closed door.”OK, I should probably go back in now. But let’s talk later. Please?”I went inside, and Dinah turned her back to me and walked around the corner to her litter box. Great. Now they’re both mad at me.Looks like I’m in for a night of playing string by myself.
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