Some Notes on Cats
Observations from someone who will never be a cat person
I am not a cat person. I am not an animal person. I have never had a pet, not even a goldfish. A week before we started dating, my fiancée Deborah got two cats, Lew and Theo. On our first date, she told me about her cats and, because several of her exes had given her a hard time about her pets, she had a bit of PTSD around the subject. She tentatively asked if her pets would be a deal breaker. She had no idea about my aversion to animals and my allergy to cats. I told her Benadryl existed for a reason.
I should note that I am the only person allowed to call her Deborah. To everyone else she is Debbie.
The first time I met the cats they were largely indifferent to me and they would continue to be indifferent for quite some time. I know many people who have cats so I understood that this was normal cat behavior and the indifference was quite mutual. My eyes watered. My skin itched. The longer I continued to come around, the more the cats seemed to understand I was not simply passing through. Their indifference diminished only slightly. My watering eyes and itching skin did not.
Because I know nothing about having pets, the entire experience of spending a lot of time around cats has been quite anthropological. I am always observing this or that thing they do and when I share my findings with Debbie, she patiently tells me that yes, this is what cats do or this is how cats are. At times, I am not sure she can believe I really know this little about animals but then I ask something so basic and do so with such sincerity, she understands that I do, indeed, really know this little about animals.
I promised myself to be very patient where the cats were concerned so I could show her I was different. To that end, I had only one rule when we first started dating — the cats could not sleep in bed with us because we are humans and they are animals and though I am not sure where cats sleep, it was not going to be with me, a human. This rule lasted approximately three weeks.
I don’t want to sleep with cats because I have a heightened startle reflex. Nothing I do makes it go away so I have learned to live with it. If the cats jump on the bed in the middle of the night, and they certainly…