Why Cats Are Not Disposable.

Okay, so now it’s officially official: it’s 2009. This means that last night, at 11:59p.m., the last person born the same year I was–1978, exited his or her twenties kicking and screaming, or if they were anything like me–kicking, screaming, and throwing cushions at the cats. Now, before you get all PETA on me and accuse me of using my cats as nothing but punching bags, let me assure that you’d be dead wrong: my cats also double as footstools. After all, what would be the point of brushing their hair if not to soften the padding when gently resting my feet after a long run on the treadmill, or better yet, when I just can’t reach that elusive can of chicken noodle soup way up on the shelf. I’m just sayin’. I’ve noticed that lesbians in particular usually have a hard time with my telling them about the special relationship between my cats and I, but that could also be because I preface most of my stories about cats with my view on the inferior and useless role of women in society.

Anyway, the point of the story is to actually share a new lesson–or an epiphany, if you will–that I recently learned the hard way, and by “hard” I mean “erect”. So the other day, it may have been December 31st, in fact, at around the butt-cracker of dawn, my cat Lulu decided that she was going to practice her aria “Ode To A New Sun” from the top of her smoke-free lungs. The clearing of her throat around the house woke me up from a really amazing dream, which may or may not have involved something about world peace. Either that or my going to a Chinese restaurant and asking about the “Lulu Special”. Anyway, that harsh and uncalled for awakening from a most engaging dream left me angry, naturally. I threw the covers off of me, slipped on my glasses, put on my Elvis wig, and began searching for that twenty-pound singing sensation. “Oh hell’s no”, I thought to myself, “I could practically smell the ‘BBQ Kitty Ribs’… I mean see the signing of the peace agreement at the White House lawn.” I was livid, and by “livid” I mean “vivid” but with an “L”. So once I found the little plump baritone, I grabbed her from under the chair and all hell broke loose, and by “loose” I mean “the skin under Madeline Albright’s chin.”

The moments that ensued are a blur. I just remember something about a loud beating, some serious spanking, and really sharp nails, but that could have been from earlier that night with Andy. What I do remember distinctly, however, is that during the strugg… I mean, the diplomatic exchange, she broke my vase. Oh yes she did. Smashed, gone, dead. So I did what any caring father would do: I put her in “time out”, which in my house means lock-up in the bathtub with the glass doors firmly shut. At least that’s what we do back home with my baby brother whenever he rebels and decides that he’s “had enough” with washing our mom’s car with his toothbrush every morning. (I know what you’re thinking: The nerve of kids these days.)

But anyway, it was then, just then, when I crawled back into bed and mumbled something to Andy about wishing my cat got a job and left the house already, that I had an idea. I could simply drop her off in Chinatown and let nature take its course. After all, I am a huge believer in fate, and by “fate” I mean “premeditated transition to an alternate state.” It was going to be my good Semaritan deed for the year, and I really did want to leave 2008 knowing that I had done at least one selfless act, like fed a family of four with delicious organic cage-free kitty ribs. I could even attach a tiny note to her collar that would say “goes well with kale”, and maybe even tape a chicken broth cube to her tail or strap a can of tomato sauce on her back just for inspiration. But then, just as I was turning my recently-truncated dream into a reality and feeling great about my newfound brilliance, I realized that I’m not that mean. What was I thinking? I love my cat. I do, with all my heart. We’ve been together for four years now, I couldn’t just give her away. And besides, aren’t all relationships a little love-hate? Isn’t a little fighting the spice in any relationship? Plus, if I gave her away, I could never reach anything at the very top shelf in my kitchen, including that tomato sauce.

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Baritone sensation Lulu “La Gatita” Rabi backstage at a recent gig at the Chicago Lyric Opera.

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