Mutual of Omaha’s Annoying Kingdom

Krazy Kat comic from stevestiles.comI’m sure the San Francisco Animal Control People do a fine job with the fixings and the basic health exams and all that. I just think it’s irresponsible for them to be releasing pets without doing a proper psychological examination first.

The problem, see, is that my new cat is batshit insane.

There are plenty of people out there (cat people) who would dismiss it all as “frisky” or would even go so far as “rambunctious,” but that’s only because they haven’t seen the cold madness that seethes behind those narrow slits he uses for eyes. He’s a demon from the Pit, made flesh and fur.

Like many of you, at least the ones who didn’t go to a different website the moment it became clear I was making another post about my cat, I assumed at first that it was all normal. You might look at pictures and just think that I’m making a big deal out of nothing; it’s all standard new kitten adjustment behavior. And there has been a good bit of that. Books get knocked off of bookshelves, computer equipment gets knocked off of desks, wet paw prints appear in a direct line from the kitchen sink to my living room couch, or on the television where he’s tried in vain to attack the Mythbusters. Random keys get pressed on keyboards, and my web browser’s home page gets inexplicably reset to (I swear to God that really happened).

All that kind of thing, I expected. I’ve had cats before, albeit in larger houses, and they were usually kept in check by larger dogs. I knew that I’d have to remain completely still when I go to sleep, because he’d pounce on any movement under the sheets. I knew that I’d have the pleasure of walking barefoot through a Zen Garden of stray cat litter on my bathroom floor every morning. I even knew, not long after I saw him, that if I were ever to choke on dinner or succumb to a gas leak, he’d be one of those cats who’d start eating on me before my body was found.

Now, however, I’m convinced that he’s not content to wait. His favorite game at the moment is to lurk in the shadows, waiting for me to walk by, minding my own business, and then suddenly spring out from under a bed or behind a piece of furniture, leap up, and grab onto my leg at the upper thigh. He’ll hang there for the split second it takes him to realize he’s not big enough to take me down (yet), and then dash off to hide under the bed again. Over the course of the last week, my status has been reduced from master to friendly companion to the weakest gazelle in the herd.

What I originally mistook as adorably cute affection has taken a decidedly Frank Booth-like turn. At first, he would hop up in my lap, then bury his head in my armpit or under the crook of my neck and just sit there and purr contentedly, which was charming enough to be “eccentric” instead of just “weird.” He still does that, for a minute or so, but then succumbs to his bizarre beard fixation, chewing on my chin or upper lip and pulling out small tufts of hair in the process. I gently push him away, and he looks up and meows at me — unintelligible at first, but now I recognize it as “Don’t you look at me!

And I can’t just leave him alone, because he’s self-destructive, even for a cat. He was so desperate to get out his collar that twice I found him with the still-attached collar stuck in his mouth like a gag, and he was trying to back his way out of it, making the most mournful sounds I’ve ever heard come out of an animal. I regularly hear large boxes falling over or plates banging together; it’s like living in the Amityville Horror house.

The only thing I’m convinced of is that I’ve chosen the right name. He’s spent the time it’s taken me to write this post running at full speed between the living room and the bedroom, ignoring all of his cat toys and choosing instead to chase his own personal demons. Then he just stops and stares into space, then meows something that I’m sure in cat language is unspeakably profane. Occasionally he’ll pause to lick himself, as if all is normal, then suddenly and without provocation crouch down, his eyes wide and his ears flat against his head, staring in abject terror at my coatrack or a chair.

Now, he’s jumping on and off the bed, flinging himself into pillows or attacking spots in the comforter that offend him for reasons only he knows. He’ll stop and stare and meow something, then leap straight into the air and run off into the kitchen or to hide under the couch. And I’m watching it all helplessly, like Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist. I can’t leave the apartment for too long, and I can’t have anybody over, for fear that he’ll march into the living room, meow “you’re gonna die on that plane!” at the guests, and then pee all over the floor. I realize I brought the evil on myself, looking for a companion but having accidentally summoned myself an Overly Familiar.