Geriatric Cattitude

Aloysius.

We have a cat named Aloysius. I was gonna say that we own a cat named Aloysius but nobody really owns a cat. To be a bit more precise, it appears that cats own us.

Particularly Aloysius. He’s old now, sixteen years old and rapidly approaching his “sell by” date and he couldn’t possibly care any less. He’s probably looking forward to dying so that he can kick Satan out of Hell and take over. I’m tempted to say that he exhibits signs of dementia but that’s not exactly a news flash. I mean he’s acted like he was demented since he was a kitten. He was the only survivor of a litter born to a feral cat in our old neighborhood. The local kids used to torment the hell out of him and his Mom. We were able to trap him and bring him home but his Mom was too smart to be caught.

I remember that we got him during winter. He immediately displayed his gratitude by refusing to bond with us or the other pets we had, rewarding a scratch under his chin with a piercing yowl and a slashing bite and he completely refused to huddle around the wood stove, the way the rest of our pets did. By the third day he’d managed to sneak back outside and it was a day or two before he bothered to show up again. He yowled at the front door, we let him in, tried to pet him and immediately wound up reaching for paper towels, Band-Aids and iodine. He loaded up on cat food, grabbed a few licks of water and sat in front of the door yowling continuously to be let back out into the cold. Against our better judgment, we did.

That’s been the Aloysius Way ever since. He comes in when he wants to but prefers to stay outdoors under all but the most obscene weather conditions. I’m writing this during a rainstorm and Aloysius is sleeping on the steps outside our kitchen door, happy as a clam. He might decide to come in out of the rain tonight but I wouldn’t make book on it. If he does, he’ll probably either :

  1. Curl up on the couch and sleep, making certain to get the cushions good and wet.
    OR
  2. Climb onto the keyboard shelf for the computer and “help” me type. And drip water into the keyboard.

Once, he “helped” me type so well that I spent nearly an hour trying to get the computer back into the state it was in before he “helped”. I eventually wound up calling AppleCare where I spent a highly unusual ninety minutes speaking to a tech guru before he finally figured out exactly what it was Aloysius did to the computer. Just for those of you who might be curious about this, Aloysius had managed to make the type so large that it just totally freaked out the computer. The entire screen was just a tiny fragment of a single letter. Thankfully, the tech guru was a guy who was owned by a cat and he was pretty understanding as well as mightily amused by the whole thing. I, on the other hand, was out fifty bucks because my warranty coverage had expired and I wasn’t quite so entertained.

Over the years, Aloysius has mellowed a bit but ONLY a bit. It seems that I have become, to my intense regret, his “person” which means that when he deigns to come indoors, he expects me to pet him. Without letup. Forever. Or he’ll bite me. He also lets me know when it is time to cease petting by giving me a good, deep puncture wound. You cannot win with Aloysius. Nor can you break even or quit the game.

He completely refuses to make friends or even non-combatants of our other furred family members regardless of their number or size. He has the personality of a hungover wolverine and all the charm of a rhinoceros with hemorrhoids and a cactus stuck up its ass. He’s orange and white with yellow eyes that glow like Hell’s headlights. To describe him as “cranky” is to contemptuously slight the descriptive properties of the English tongue as well as my own extensive vocabulary of intemperate language.

And of course, there is the matter of his voice. He is an ordinary-looking house cat but he sounds like a mountain lion. Whenever he wants something, which he invariably times to coincide with something important, such as my being asleep, he sets up an unearthly yowl that penetrates walls as though they were tissue paper, vibrates my fillings and, if I’m not quick enough to respond, wakes the neighbors whom, I should add, aren’t all that close by. I, sap that I am, will get up, let him in (or out) or tend to whatever need he is evidencing at that moment. Because you ignore him at your peril.

Most felines are merely furred machines used in the simple process of converting hundred dollar bills into used cat litter (Thank you, Jim Wright!). But not Aloysius. He cares not that there’s a perfectly good litterbox nearby. If he wishes to go outside and we’re not quick enough to the door, he’ll walk into the living room and leave a pile of cat shit on the floor. If he wants to pee and nobody responds fast enough he will, and I swear by the sainted name of Harry Mabs that this is true, squat in the dog’s food bowl, yowl continuously until he makes eye contact and then will deliberately pee, right there in the dog’s bowl all the while looking you straight in the eye as if to say “What’re ya gonna do about it, Mac?”.

If any of this was new behavior, I’d figure that he had finally parted his mooring and haul him off to the vets and have him put to sleep. And I know, when the day comes, I’ll shed some tears even though I’m not a “cat person”. But when it’s been sixteen years without significant change, I don’t think he’s crazy. I think he really just doesn’t give a damn about anything or anybody. So, here’s to you, Aloysius, you cussed old fart.

As long as you don’t help me typZZZZZZZZZZ)**()UO:BBrnQl 1“9-uBXP(&(PJM;

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