Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Open Letter to our cat, Oliver

Dear Oliver, This would be easier to take if you didn’t have (a) every toy on the planet or (b) an automated feeder that dispenses pricy organic cat food or (c) unsolicited showerings of love & attention from your parents. So imagine our surprise, when the neighbor casually mentioned that you have been going into her house through her cat door every day for three years and scarfing down all the food she puts out for her TWO cats. Upon learning this awful and embarrassing truth, I immediately rushed out and bought a 20-pound bag of her preferred cat food. But it was still unclear how to allow you outside access yet keep you from going next door. Your father, the creative genius and amateur thespian, decided to inflict a “scare” upon you with the help of the neighbor. He figured that if you associated going over there with something unpleasant, you would stop doing it. So he dressed up in some Halloween costume odds & ends, put a plastic bag over his head (I think he cut some holes for air) and put some plastic diving flippers on his hands. Little did you know that when I released you outside and you B-lined into her kitchen, he was waiting for you. The surprise of the ruckus and hollering should have convinced you never to step foot in that house again. But… you were relentless. Extreme measures therefore had to be enforced and for the first time since we’ve lived here, you became exclusively an “inside cat.” Oh, how you made us suffer. Did I mention how pathetic and inconsolable you sounded? It was like detoxing an addict. You paced by the door and meowed incessantly. You even brazenly jumped up on the kitchen counter one day while we were at work and ate half a loaf of bread—through the plastic. Another time, I set grocery bags in the house and went back to the car to get the others and within 30 seconds you had located the dinner rolls and taken a big bite of one through the plastic. We felt it was our duty to be strong where you could not be, so as a last resort, we started confining you to the basement when we were at work because of your propensity to consume anything that was not encased in hard plastic or metal. One typical March morning, I locked the door to the basement before leaving for work. Everything would have been fine except your father came home before I did and tripped the house alarm. Not a problem usually, since he’d just come up to the main level and disarm it. But as he started upstairs from the garage-basement, he realized the door to the main level was locked from the other side and he had forgotten his front door key. “Where are you???” he called my cell phone in a panic, the alarm blaring in the background. “I’m looking for curtains at JC Penney,” I said stunned and slightly annoyed. “What am I supposed to do?” he demanded. “The police will be coming any minute and I have to tell them I’m locked out of my own house. This is so embarrassing!” None of this, may I remind you, would have come about if it weren’t for your insatiable appetite. True, our neighbor didn’t do us any favors by allowing you to come over for so many years unchecked and, true, your father could make it habit to carry his house key. But what’s really going on here? We make sure that your daily meals and current weight are normal for a cat your size and age. You get loads of attention and stimulation. There should be no reason why you are so obsessed with food. So I ask you, what demons rumble in your kitty tummy and propel you to drive us insane? ~Mama

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