I once begged a ride home from Death Valley and the guy driving kept asking: “Wait. Where do you live? Which cross street? Where on that block? Which side of the street?” Since we were still about ten hours from the city, I started getting a little nervous. Finally he said, “Then YOU must know that cat Slasher.” ”Well, yeah,” I said, surprised. ”He’s my cat.” Ed had to pull over and call his wife. ”You’ll NEVER BELIEVE this!” he yelled into his phone. ”I JUST MET SLASHER’S OWNER!”
You may think I am exaggerating, but it was not uncommon for complete strangers to greet my cat by name as we passed by, while ignoring me altogether. That furry guy knew everyone. He hung out in folks’ garages while they tinkered, and lolled on their stoops on sunny afternoons. He knew where to go for tuna and extra love, and I tried not to get too jealous when I saw him coming out of other houses. He was quite a gentleman, after all, taking me on walks, spending time with the elderly, and escorting one woman home from public transport every evening. He was even mentioned in the student guidebook for the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine: ”Absolutely no pets allowed, except guide dogs and Slasher.” Meanwhile, we got phone calls from bars and restaurants that he frequented, often late at night. ”Do you have a cat named Slasher?” they would ask. “That depends,” my husband would say. ”What’s his tab?”
Not everyone loved him, though. As evidence, he was missing quite a bit of both ears. German Shepherds feared him. Dog walkers couldn’t stand him. And if you had a cat allergy, he made sure to bite your ankles and shed all over you. Some lawyer actually threatened some vague sort of legal action, claiming that he had terrorized her and her dog and then followed them “in attack mode.” While I found that letter endlessly entertaining and hung it on the fridge, even I had to admit a healthy fear of him, fueled mostly by our frequent trips to the vet for his hyperthyroidism. Have you ever tried to lovingly shove a ferocious beast into the side door of a cat carrier? Slasher would get so worked up clawing my arm for half an hour that he never failed to excrete a giant, malodorous turd on the way to the vet. I assume this was an expression of dismay regarding my disrespectful behavior. Thank goodness I discovered a top-loading cat carrier before losing a limb.
Love or hate, you had to admit he was an exceptional cat, and until March 2, I had the honor of catering to his every need.
Here’s where the story gets sad and a bit demented. In my defense, there is a lot of gray area in parenting, and sometimes it’s hard to decide which path will lead to a greater need for therapy. Tune in tomorrow…