For the record, I am not a crazy cat lady. No matter how many cat calendars, cat magnets or cat notebooks my mother gives me, or how many cute Lolcats people post on my Facebook wall... I'm really a dog person, I grew up with dogs. I'm not that into cats. I don't even think I would like your cat. But I'm obsessed with mine.
I live with a cat that runs my life. Sometimes, when money is tight, I buy myself food at the 99 cent store but she gets the expensive organic cat food. I've stolen toilet paper from public bathrooms, but she gets the pricey litter. She deserves neither because she is a total nightmare. But I would never leave her for two reasons. One, she thrown in a dumpster as a kitten and I could never abandon her again. Two, I am afraid of her.
Those that know Delilah, speak of her with reverence. And fear. A lot of fear. She's only seven pounds of fluff, but she packs a lot of scary fury in that fluff. So much so, that my friends refer to her as Kitler.
That is, what friends I have left. I've gone through a lot of friends who I've asked to watch her when I've gone out of town. They weren't my friends when I came back. I got so low in the friend pool I would have to go out to bars and pick up girls and make friends with them when I knew I had a trip coming up. You know, go shopping a couple times. Go to brunch. A few tears over margaritas about shitty boyfriends to really reel them in. And then casually ask them to watch my monster when I had to jet to a music festival or a family holiday or something. If I was smart, I didn't give the girl my cell phone number. That way I wouldn't get a barrage of texts featuring a play by play of my cat systematically destroying my apartment brick by brick, poop by poop. The texts would eventually devolve into a bunch of frowny faces with exclamation points and then radio silence.
Okay, most cats aren't good when their owners are away, but mine isn't good when I'm here. She has destroyed every piece of furniture I've owned. She is the reason I don't have carpets or a cloth couch. I used to have a gorgeous collection of haute couture clothing. What's left of it is vacuum packed and hidden away like Anne Frank in the back of my closet. My cat bites with malice. She scratches. She will eat your food off you plate. She steals sushi. She steals pillows. If you steal the pillow back from her she will piss on it so that no one gets it. God, she is smart.
She looks like a Disney villain sidekick cat if you mixed that with the creepy, haunting stare of those twins from the Shining. I once saw her attack a large Doberman about eight times her size. The sheer terror in the eyes of that dog -- I will never forget it.
Every morning she wakes me up by swatting me in the face until I get up to feed her. If I ignore her, she uses her claws or eventually covers my mouth until I can't breathe. I often have nightmares of drowning only to wake up with a paw shoved halfway down my throat. She is either trying to suffocate me or is urging me to become bulimic. The look in her eyes say: "If I had opposable thumbs and could open a can of tuna, you'd be dead." That's the difference between Delilah and all the dogs I've raised. If my dogs were three or four times their size, they'd still fetch and try to climb up on my lap to lick me. If Delilah were four times her size, she'd kill me and then play in my blood.
And there are the men! Delilah has gone through several of my boyfriends who decided they just couldn't hang. I'm going to blame her on this one, although there is a very small chance it could have been the combination of both of us. Strangely enough, with all of Dee's bad habits, most of my boyfriends found her endearing. It seemed the more badly she behaved, the better they liked her. She has always bewitched them.
I remember once after a three year live-in relationship was ending. This boyfriend, the one that bought the cat her own water fountain, was packing his things up to go after a big fight. He dragged a suitcase to the door and I heard him say "goodbye, sweetheart." I turned to meet his gaze. Except he wasn't looking at me. He was kneeling, holding the cat as she scratched and bit him.
Still, with Delilah's evil Sith Lord demeanor, she puts up with all of my faults. She has been a constant in my life for years and has been kind of like a life partner. Not like a pet, like a dog that loves you, but like a mute roommate that never pays rent and shits on the floor. And believe me, when you're all by yourself after the umpteenth break up, a mute roommate that shits on the floor is something to be thankful for.
I've had several people shove the "My Cat From Hell" TV show contact information into my hand. Yeah, right. You think I want the sheer humiliation of knowing that my cat brought down the career of Jackson Galaxy, the professional cat whisperer? I just can't have that on my conscience. However, I did once go see a pet psychic.
It happened when I went with my life coach friend to some spiritual expo in Pasadena. I don't usually believe in that stuff, but I DO believe in free massages, which were plentiful there. On my way through the convention center hall, I passed a table covered with framed pictures of animals. Behind the table sat a cute little old lady in a rocking chair looking up at me.
"Is your pet in distress? I can help. I talk to animals."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure my cat is beyond help." I said.
"There's no such thing. Anyone can be helped. Do you have a picture?" The little old lady said. I blushed.
For someone who isn't sentimental about her cat, I carry around a picture on my key chain. It was a gift my sister gave me; a mini driver's license picture with my cat's photo and all her information. You know, in case she wants to take the convertible out for a spin.
"Uh, yeah. Here she is. That's my cat."
The old lady asked for forty dollars. FORTY DOLLARS! Jesus. I quickly gave her money so other around me people wouldn't notice I was actually about to do this. I was about to talk to a freaking pet psychic.
A frown came over the woman's face as she held the key chain.
"Oh, it's dark and she is very, very frightened."
"Well, she was found in a dumpster as a kitten."
"No! Not this life, a past life. Much further back. I see barbed wire. A prison. There are stripes. And mud. And tears. She is angry. I can't make out the language... "
"Because she is a cat?"
"No, it's German. She's... I'm so sorry. I think she is at Dachau."
I immediately crumbled inside. Was this lady trying to tell me my cat was in a concentration camp? She was in the Holocaust? Oh my poor fluff face! No wonder she is so messed up. Ever since she appeared on my doorstep stuffed in a Wendy's cup, no bigger than a hamster, she has wormed her way into my heart. I forgave her for every ruined pillow, every lost friend. I'd give her extra tuna helpings from now on. I know I never said it but I loved that little beast more than anything! She was beautiful, demanding, bitchy, weird, and beguiling. We were soul mates!
From then on, I did my best to not only tolerate Delilah's behavior, but celebrate it. Not only did she come from humble beginnings in this life, but she had come from such a nightmare in her previous one. She was a survivor. Cue Beyonce!
Not everyone agreed with my parenting skills. My mother muttered something like "what you permit you promote" and my friends stopped stopping over. Plus the cat sitter, aka the dude I was dating at the time, was pretty fed up with Delilah's run of the house. I explained to him that she was a Shoah survivor and that he had to be sensitive to that. He wasn't buying it.
"You spent money on a pet psychic for her to tell you that your cat is disturbed?" He said.
"Yes! She said Delilah was at a concentration camp at Dachau." I said.
"Uh huh. Did you ever stop to think that maybe she was one of the guards?" He said and walked out.
I looked over at Kitler who was dunking a mouse in her water dish.
One of the guards. Actually, that does make more sense.
Follow Ali MacLean on Twitter: www.twitter.com/aliontheair