I am in the fetal position in the corner of my bed, pressed up against the wall. I am crying, but no one can hear me. I just want to go eat a turkey sandwich or maybe some Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but I can’t. Eyeing the closed door to freedom directly opposite me, I decide to attempt another escape. I tentatively lower my left leg over the side of my mattress while fearfully clutching my purple comforter. All of a sudden, a streak of fur shoots out from under my bed and sinks its teeth into my Achilles. I scream and withdraw my foot as the monster retreats into the recesses of its lair, only emerging every so often to reassert its dominance by leaping up and biting me.
Some of my most vivid childhood memories consist of my cat viciously attacking me. I can remember running and sobbing to my parents and hearing them tell me that I was “being dramatic” and that there was “no way Mia was trying to kill me.” Only after they saw her stake out the bathroom for a post-shower assault on my shoulder did my parents finally believe my horror stories.
To be perfectly honest, a cat wasn’t my first choice. I wanted a dog, but owning two un-potty-trained Yorkshire terriers when I was five had traumatized my mother, so I geared my energy toward convincing my parents to bring home a sweet, loving, baby kitten instead. When they finally agreed, my family journeyed across town to The Lawrence Humane Society and naively adopted what we thought to be an innocent five month old kitten.
Mia was innocent for the first few weeks, maybe even the first few months after we brought her home, but then she evolved into a territorial fiend. She conquered visitors’ shoes and attacked the owners when they attempted to reclaim their footwear. No intruder was safe from her needle-sharp teeth, blood-curling hiss and declawed paws. She assaulted anyone from small children to grown men. Even today, when my grandma comes over to feed my cat while my family is out of town, she carries a broom to beat the demonic feline away if she approaches.
After 8 1/2 years, Mia has somewhat calmed down. Because I hit her on the head with a dictionary a couple times in self defense, she no longer stalks me. In fact, Mia doesn’t attack too many people anymore. She is getting older. Her gait is now uneven, and sometimes she moves like every step is more difficult than the last. That’s probably why she only rouses herself to switch sleeping locations or to go to the litter box.
Because of her 25 lb frame, my nine year old cat isn’t capable of doing the average “cat” pastimes without injuring herself or breaking something. She can no longer gracefully jump on a ledge or hop on a bookshelf without missing the ledge or breaking a shelf. She’s too lazy to chase a flashlight’s beam. Her obesity and age make her much easier to find these days. If she’s not pooping or eating, she’s sleeping on my bed or drinking out of my toilet. If she isn’t doing any of these activities, she’s probably making out with the living room rug.
Everyone in my family is pretty indifferent to my cat’s existence at this point except for my dad. My father loves Mia. He loves the way her stomach flops back and forth, nearly touching the ground when she walks. He loves when she weaves in front of him, meowing pitifully for him to feed her in the mornings. If he thinks no one can hear him, my dad talks to my cat like he’s cooing to a human baby. My dad’s enjoyment is one of the only reasons we keep our real-life Garfield around.
After I finish typing this blog, I will perform the weekly ritual of washing Mia’s butt because she is too fat to lick it herself. Then I will brush her fur so that later this week I will only have to lint roll my jacket once instead of twice. As I perform these tasks, I will quietly wish for Mia’s demise, but tomorrow morning, I will wake up early enough to listen to my dad whisper to her while he pours her kit and kaboodle into her Aristocats food bowl, and I will hope that she sticks around for a few years more.