Spawn of the devil’s own whore

November 7, 2010 at 2:02 PM 6 comments


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Of course I am not superstitious. I do not throw salt over my shoulder. I walk underneath ladders. And Friday the thirteenth is just another day. But I fully understand why people in earlier centuries believed that cats are the spawn of the devil’s own whore.

One of these feline fiends lives across the street from me. I met Scurvy* a couple of months ago when I stopped by to visit a new friend. Like many miscreants, Scurvy behaved well enough in the presence of his owner. So, when my friend had to go abroad, I volunteered to feed the creature and clean his litter box a couple of times a week.

Who knew that this animal would look upon me as a trespasser to be fended off with every stage tactic of a Grand Guignol horror show? One evening when I entered Scurvy’s apartment — and it is his every bit as much as it is my friend’s — he puffed himself up to the size of a raccoon, arched his back, hissed, spat and lunged at me. He topped off this entertainment with a blood-curdling cry at the back of his throat.

When somebody or something vents his malice my way, I am not cool. I yelled at Scurvy. I told him to back off and threw in a few hisses myself. Not a good idea. He got even angrier and blocked my path to the room that held his food and litter box. I never saw a cat this bold. He won. I scuttled out of the apartment like a mouse.

Good cop, bad cop

I decided not to squeal on Scurvy to my friend. She hasn’t been well lately and so much looked forward to making the trip abroad to be with her children. But how was I going to work up the courage to enter into that Hell’s Kitchen, feed Scurvy, change his litter and water the twenty-odd plants scattered throughout the apartment? Maybe if I brought somebody in with me, I could distract the cat long enough to do what I had to do.

My first partner — the good cop to my bad — was a tall man. Scurvy got his back up again at me, but tolerated the good cop. In fact, my tall friend traitorously said the cat was sweet.

Fine. I still wasn’t going to face that whore-kit alone. I asked my friend Shari, a dyed-in-the-wool cat lover, to come with me. Shari said I was going about my errand all wrong. She talked about cat psychology and how badly Scurvy missed his mistress: Missed her smell, missed her body, missed the reassurance of her company. I told Shari that I probably could be made to understand the psychology of a Taliban, but understanding why a creature behaves the way he does doesn’t solve the immediate problem. I understand that the Nazis believed that the Jews were vermin and felt they had every right to exterminate them. But who cares about the psychology of a Nazi? You either escape from such a monster or exterminate him yourself.

“Make Scurvy your friend,” Shari counseled me. “Bring him some treats and you’ll have him eating out of your hand.”

My son suggested the negative reinforcement tactic. “Get a spray bottle and spray water in his face,” he said.

I might have been foolish enough to take my son’s advice if I had a spray bottle. But knowing what you already know about Scurvy, how do you think he would take to my blinding him with a fine mist?

The size of Clark Bars

Shari and I entered the apartment. Scurvy could not contain his contempt for me. I did not waste any time in jumping up onto the sofa.

Meanwhile, Shari began her campaign to become Scurvy’s friend. Mind you, his black fur was so puffed out that if he were a porcupine, he would have shot his quills up at me. Instead, he alternated between eating Shari’s cat treats and glowering at me with his yellow I’ll-see-you-in-hell eyes. I was too afraid to change his water and add food to his bowl, and too freaked out to water the plants. As for the litter box, I forgot about it altogether. Incidentally, only Hecate, the patron saint of cats, would be honored by the size of Scurvy’s doodies, which were as big as Clark Bars. A pooper-scooper wasn’t sufficient. You needed a backhoe for this cat’s production.

“What a nice kitty!” Shari exclaimed. “Here, Barbara. Why don’t you try feeding him?”

“I’m not putting my hand near that cat’s mouth!” I said.

“Such a sweet kitty!” Shari sang in a soprano voice tight with the effort of trying to convince herself.

Scurvy sulked underneath the dining room table. When Shari had to pick up the tea kettle on the table to water the plants, she arched her body as far away from Scurvy as possible.

“You’re afraid of him too!” I shouted out from my perch on the sofa.

The cat stopped yowling only after we shut the apartment door behind us.

Which side are you on?

I told my mother about Scurvy and how terrified I was of him.

“You have to understand his psychology,” she said. “No matter how domesticated he is, he is still a wild animal.”

Another county heard from!

I’m going back in there again today with Shari. I only wish I had a hazmat suit for protection, or maybe a federal marshal, because I know Scurvy hasn’t even begun to show me what he can do. If you do not get an e-mail from me on Monday morning announcing this week’s Bookpod, rest assured that Scurvy has won the day.

* All names in this blog post have been changed to protect the innocent (Shari) and the guilty (Scurvy).

UPDATE: Now that Scurvy has thrown himself against Shari’s legs with the intention of doing bodily harm, we are at our wit’s end. Maybe we will just push some food and litter through the front door and make a run for it.

One week later: A vet advised that I buy a cat pheromone product called Feliway and spray it over Scurvy’s head before I attempted to enter into its air space. This is our new coping mechanism: I unlock the door to the apartment. Shari enters with Feliway in hand and I follow. The Feliway disables Scurvy’s killer instinct long enough for us to tend to its basic needs. Then we’re out of there. Shari feels sorry for the cat, proof that she is a better example of homo sapiens than I am.

Edgar Allen Poe used a cat as a metaphor for his personal demons. Why am I not surprised? Read The Black Cat.

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Entry filed under: Apartments, Friendship, New York City, Tenants. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sara Bennett  |  November 7, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    I have had too many experiences like that with cats. Needless to say, I stay as far away as possible.

    Reply
    • 2. Bookpod  |  November 7, 2010 at 4:51 PM

      This wasn’t my first bad experience with babysitting other people’s cats either, but this creature is unlike any I have ever dealt with. I’m a wreck!

      Reply
  • 3. Will Runyon  |  November 8, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    The size of Clark Bars? Sounds like you have hard evidence of your successful mission.

    Reply
    • 4. Bookpod  |  November 8, 2010 at 9:07 AM

      Mission (only partly) accomplished!

      Reply
  • 5. Pesha  |  November 8, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Didn’t you used to be a cat lover? Thanks for sharing–you had me in stitches (made from catgut, no doubt)!

    Reply
  • 6. I Hate My Cat | Redhead Ranting  |  March 11, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    […] Spawn of the devil’s own whore (bookpod.wordpress.com) […]

    Reply

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