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A knock sounds on my door and I reluctantly close my book. As I look through the peep hole I see my friend Matt and his comically magnified head. I open the door before attempting to shut it. Unfortunately, the rather large boot Matt had stuck in my door frame allowed him enough leverage to pry the door open. The huge animal crate he had hidden from the view of my trusty peep hole is in his hands and I stare at it as if my glares could will it to disappear.
“No.”Nonononononononono. Matt raises one eyebrow, as if daring me to challenge him.
The fact that he brought his beloved cat to my house means that he’s exhausted all of his other options. Griping about my lack of compassion and affinity for living things is one of his favorite pastimes. His girlfriend Emma hates the cat more than I do, so, when she moved in, she made it clear that it was the cat, or her.
“Please? Pretty please?” I keep my face straight, forcing my heart to turn to stone. “I just need some time to convince Emma. Soon, she’ll love Princess as much as I do. Consider it training for when you have children!” He’s selling his cat like he’s a car salesman trying to get a huge commission. Unfortunately for me, Matt’s been working on his pathetic face. It’s hard to reject someone so pitiful.
It’s not that I hate cats. I simply hate this particular cat. Matt, against the pleas of his friends and family, had named her Princess Eugenie. I call her P.U. Saying that she’s morbidly obese isn’t an exaggeration. Princess’s stomach protrudes out and her stubby little legs are barely visible underneath her belly. As if her fat wasn’t enough, Princess’s long tan hair gives her the appearance of an irritable, hungry lion. Princess is currently resting in Matt’s burly arms as he rocks her back and forth, I don’t let my eyes wander from her hateful gaze out of fear that she’ll do something horrible if I take my eyes off of her.
Matt loves the creature so much I have to wonder why he didn’t just dump his girlfriend for even uttering a phrase against her. The way that he’s cradling the loathed creature right now only adds strength to my statement. I stare down at her with a menacing glare as he rocks her in his arms, like a large child. While Matt might see her as a funny-looking, lovable, furry animal, I see Satan. While Matt might dream of happy nights watching television with P.U. resting by his side, I see scratched furniture, cat pee, and fur-lots and lots of fur. I deduce that someone is enjoying a cruel laugh at my expense.
“Cat hair.”Matt corrects.
“You were mumbling something about furniture and fur. Cats don’t have fur, they have hair.” I grumble at his response. Considering the fact that he’s soliciting me for help right now, he should just stay quiet. And pay for my Chinese takeout.
I feel her land before I see it. The force of her landing causes the floor to shake a little. I’m semiconscious of Matt leaving to go to his car to grab more of Princess’s “essentials.” In my mind, I see the destruction of my home. Every puddle of cat pee and every clump of golden cat hair on my pristine white couch and carpet fills my mind. I become aware of P.U’s purring. Despite her large size, her purr still sounds like a newborn kitten’s. How misleading. She entangles herself between my legs and continues her purring. Once she waddles away, I see the strands of golden hair left on the legs of my black jeans.
Matt returns and I watch him set up the largest litter box I’ve ever seen, in the middle of my bathroom. I then watch him take the largest bag of litter I have ever seen and proceed to dump half of it into the litter tub. I cough as a gigantic cloud of litter floods the room. I recoil at the thought of the large “products” that litter box is supposed to hold.
How in the world am I expected to pay for this cat’s essentials? Princess’s food must cost more than mine. As I sit pondering my dilemma, I don’t realize that Matt has just walked up with a large array of things. And so the parade of cat toys and structures begins.
“This is where her catnip toy is kept. Only use this when you’re really desperate, because it makes her hungrier than usual…this is her kitty tower, sometimes she gets stuck in this little circle, call me if that happens…this is Mr. Dandy the seventh, if he loses any limbs while she’s playing with him, there’s a backup…”
I leave Matt to set up P.U’s junk and walk into my living room, only to witness P.U’s attempts to climb onto my couch. I stand behind the couch staring down at her jiggling fat belly as she leaps as high as her little legs can bear. I deliberate over helping her. The idea of leaving her like this all night pops into my head. After all, she needs the exercise. Against my better judgment, I hoist her up onto my couch. As she rubs her body all over its fluffy whiteness, I imagine my couch losing its innocence and shed a metaphoric tear.
Matt appears in front of the two of us with a list in his hands. He then proceeds to baby talk: “Yesh, you’ll be good for mommy won’t you? Won’t you? Daddy has to go now. Baibai baibai.”
As if just noticing me sitting there and rolling my eyes, he clears his throat and continues in his normal voice.
“Uh…so these are some of Eugenie’s needs.” He hands me the list in his hands and awkwardly fiddles with his fingers.
“Well…would you look at the time?” I frown as he checks his imaginary watch,” I promised Emma that I would pick up some things before I went home, so I should probably get going…yeah.” I roll my eyes at his imaginary excuse. As if he can’t bear to be away, he cradles P.U. one last time, me rolling my eyes at his little murmurs of baby-talk. If he stays any longer, I may get a headache from this much eye rolling. After that, Matt leaves fairly quickly, retreating before I change my mind.
And then, I’m alone with P.U. She looks at me expectantly, as if I’m the pet and she expects me to perform tricks. I pick her up, no doubt straining my back in the process, and place her in her crate. Childishly, I eat my dinner in front of Princess, flaunting my spaghetti. Her whimpers and hisses amuse me to no end.
Warily, I look down to the list and read Matt’s instructions:
Feed her 4 times a day at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime. She won’t eat her food unless it’s been warmed and softened with whole milk. DO NOT FEED HER SKIM MILK. She will know!
Brush her hair before she eats. Otherwise, her hair will knot up and cover the furniture. If it seems like she’s losing more hair than usual, feed her again.
If she starts clawing at the furniture instead of her scratching post, she’s hungry or needs attention. Play with her. If that fails, feed her again.
Clean her litter box frequently. Otherwise, she will refuse to use it. If she won’t use it when it’s clean, she wants attention. Play with her more, or feed her again.
It was a wonder that Matt wasn’t huge like his cat. Carefully, I open the door to P.U’s crate when she’s not paying attention. It takes her a long time to realize that she is free, and that I have placed her whole milk cat food in front of her.
I go to bed early, deciding to save my strength for the havoc ahead. The next morning, I wake up with Princess on my chest, her butt dangerously near my mouth. I seriously need to learn to be more assertive...