I hate cats. Well, actually, that isn’t true; I hate some cats. I like cute, little fluffy kittens that curl up with their siblings — all tiny ears and pink tongues. I do not like gigantic cats that rub against my legs and make the furniture look like it’s growing hair. Hence my long-standing rule of no cats in the house. That’s mostly because of the fact that I can’t breathe when they’re around.
In fact, it’s probably the breathing problem that makes me hate — no, that’s too strong a word — dislike cats. Our girls know that. It’s been an ongoing argument since they were little. Somehow, we always ended up with a cat — outdoors. Most of them ran away, got lost, were stolen, died, or simply disappeared into thin air.
Not Peaches. She never left. She moved in shortly after we moved to our present house. Well, to be precise, she showed up and Lindsay — softhearted Lindsay — decided to give her a dish of milk. I distinctly remember warning her in my ominous mom-knows-best tone that if she fed it, it would move in. Silly me. Naturally, that meant she’d feed it more.
And stay it — she — did. And stay. And stay. That was 1991. It’s now 2009, which means that Peaches is more than 18 years old. She shows no signs of planning to join the pet cemetery in the back yard.
At 18, she’s the queen of the homestead. She will tolerate no other cats. If one shows up to say hi, her tail puffs up, she sits rigidly upright, a disdainful look in her eyes as she silently dares the offending feline to venture closer. Most of them slink off the property without a second look, but lately the neighbor’s cat — either too stupid to understand or oblivious to the orange queen — strolls onto the patio looking for some attention from a sympathetic human. Won’t be me.
Anne — in an attempt to encourage Peaches to “make friends” — picked up Peaches and thrust her toward a lazy visitor. Out came the claws, the teeth, the hisses. Nice try, Anne. Funny thing was the visitor opened a lazy eye, squirmed around, scratching her back on the rough sidewalk all the while ignoring Peaches. Disgusted, the queen swept herself off to her latest hidden throne under the front porch.
Somewhere over the years, I’ve learned to tolerate Peaches. No, maybe not just tolerate, maybe “like” is a better word. She’s the kind of cat I like — hides outside most of the time, stays her distance from me except if I happen to be near her empty food dish.
Unfortunately, in her old age, she has developed what I can only describe as “anxious cat syndrome”. The vet says it might be senility, might be anxiety, so prescribed Kitty Prozac. It worked the three out of 10 times we were successful in fooling her into taking it. That worked great for about four months but she’s begun her annoying howl again.
She’s loud. So loud the entire neighborhood thinks we must be torturing her. Which we’re not. Of course, now we can’t find the remaining pills and need to hit up the vet for some more. In the meantime, we’re wearing earplugs and might have to supply the whole neighborhood.
I thought when she hit 18 that maybe she was headed for the great cat heaven. In fact, I was pretty sure she couldn’t live a whole lot longer. Until Anne and I — waiting for her Penny to have some blood drawn — read a cat magazine that feature cats who have lived 30 years. The hair on my arms stood straight up. Anne’s words were something like, “How cool! Peaches could live a lot longer.”
My solution? I’m shipping the cat off to Kent to join the dear child who first encouraged the darn cat to stay. Get ready, Lindsay. Your brood of two is about to expand to three.