How not to be acquired by a cat

Yes, I know. You think you are wise in the ways of not being acquired by a cat. You avoid pet shops and cat-themed videos on YouTube. When visiting cat-acquired friends, you avert your eyes from the walking furballs. (The cats. It’s okay to look at your friends.)

Classic technique: the hungry gaze

But what about the cat that shows up one winter’s day and claws frantically at your window?

Ignore it. Don’t tell yourself that it’s a fellow creature on the planet, and if, say, Rupert Murdoch has a place in the Great Chain of Being, so does this cat. Rupert can buy his own food. Not so the cat, which is why it’s clawing your window: thin, sad, meowing with hunger …

Put that can of tuna DOWN.

Oh well, as long as it’s open, you might as well dish it out. Then the cat will be full, and it will go away.

So, okay, you’re feeding the cat. But only to get it through the winter. Come spring, it will be able to catch its own tuna. Or, you know, voles and things. Just don’t let the cat into your house, because it will claw your Inherited Family Furniture.

Don’t tell me that your Inherited Family Furniture is already beat up and a few more claw marks won’t make much difference. Do you want your piano legs to look like scratching posts?

Yes, it is raining quite a lot. So build the cat a cunning little shelter out of a plastic box set on its side and lined with a fleece. The cat will ignore this and sleep in your basement on the dirt. But that’s okay. It’s got plenty of fur to keep it cozy.

Oh, all right, throw in a cushion then.

A handsomer cat never flicked a whisker
Well & truly acquired

Poor little kitty … soaking wet as it stands shivering on the deck eating its tinned salmon (because a diet of tuna must get boring after awhile). The cat could be let into the kitchen, right? There’s not much Inherited Family Furniture in the kitchen.

Oh no! The cat has found Aunt Catherine’s velvet-upholstered sofa in the living room! Aw. Look how the faded burgundy sets off the color of its fur!

But it looks a bit melancholy on the sofa. Well, who knows what horrors it endured before you took it in it acquired you. Perhaps it would cheer up if you sang it a little song of your own devising.

“I went a long way out of my way,
To get some treats for Annie.
I went a long way on a cold day
To get food for the girl.
Take a little fish, put it in the dish,
Serve it up for Annie …”

Acquisition complete

You will compose more songs. You will pay for teeth to be extracted. You will apply hot compresses to infected anal glands. (I’m still referring to the cat here.) You will take many photos, none of which capture the cat’s wanton, almost profligate beauty, and bore your non-cat-acquired friends with descriptions of your cat’s endearing little ways.

Your cat doesn’t have any endearing little ways. It eats, sleeps, and claws the Inherited Family Furniture. It suffers itself to be petted because it recognizes your hands as the same odd-shaped paws that open its tins of food.

And then, years later but much too soon, it faithlessly dies, breaking a part of your heart that you didn’t know was in you. You bury it in the back garden, plant catnip and roses on its grave, and sing to it while you do the weeding. It may be gone, but it will always have you.

So now you know what to do if a cat comes along and tries to acquire you.

“Take the kitty to the city.
Buy her lots of mousie treats.
Kitties like to crunch their eyeballs,
Like to chew their little feets.”

If you do get acquired and you need some songs, I’ve got lots.

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5 thoughts on “How not to be acquired by a cat

  1. Exactly. A great tribute to Annie and to all those cats who have sneaked into our hearts and homes, with and without our help.

  2. I remember your sheepish admission, back in the day, when you first gave up your cat-sneering ways at Annie’s hands, er, paws. For me, a lifetime cat lover, you captured something vital about cats that I’ve not had the words to express: their “wanton, almost profligate beauty.”
    Thanks, to you and to Annie.

  3. And I remember, Margot, how I fed the wrong cat for a week because back then, cats all looked alike to me. Which you were very nice about, given that the poor little starveling was yours. I appreciate the comment on my blog from someone who was wise enough to get “acquired” at an early age.

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