Mikey Walz, contributor
I live with a cat named Barry. Note that I say “I live with a cat” and not that I “have a cat”. The cat belongs to my girlfriend and was already here when I moved in. In this way, I have felt more like a cat step-dad than a cat owner. It doesn’t help that I’m also allergic to cats. I think I could have developed a lot more adoration for little Barry over the years if not for the fact that he is literally exuding a me-only poison around my living space on a regular basis. It’s difficult to let something into your heart that is constantly attacking your eyes, skin, throat, and respiratory system.
I’m not exactly Barry’s favorite member of the family either. In our best moments together I feel less like a loved and respected parent and more like a homely widow that is housing a handsome outlaw who occasionally lies and says that I’m pretty in order to keep me from calling the police. And that’s just when he actually seems to know who I am. Still to this day I will occasionally walk into a room that he is in and he will immediately start running in terror like a little Japanese businessman in a Godzilla movie. We have lived together for five years, Barry!! You have to know by now that I’m not trying to stomp and/or eat you! Where do you get these trust issues?!!
I guess I shouldn’t take it too personally. I suppose skittishness is a normal cat thing. In fact, living with a cat can be a lot like living with a drug addict. They sleep a lot, but on no discernable schedule, and they seem to be able to pass out anywhere. I once found Barry sleeping across the burners of the stove. How can an animal be able to fall three stories and land on its feet, but not have the instinct to avoid sleeping on the only surface in the house that regularly bursts into flames? When he is not passed out he acts like even more of a crackhead, swiveling violently between fits of childlike playfulness and absolute sadism. Sometimes he will just be calmly strolling through the living room and then will suddenly, without cause or provocation, haul off and attack the side of the couch. The carnage lasts for about 2 seconds and then he just strolls away like he doesn’t even remember doing it. How am I supposed to feel safe in my environment with that kind of manic behavior happening on a regular basis?
Barry is what is called an “indoor/outdoor” cat, which is to say we let him go outside where he disappears for long swaths of time between coming in and demanding we feed him. His vet told us that we should keep him inside all the time because indoor/outdoor cats tend to live several years less than purely indoor cats. To which I said; “So you’re telling me that by letting him outside I not only get to see him less but he will also be dead sooner? Thanks, Doc! Windows stay open!”
The health risks for the cat are not the only reason you are supposed to keep cats in. For a long time I wondered what Barry did during his many romps around the neighborhood. I really had no idea. He could have had a part time job at the Best Buy down the road for all I knew. Then I read about this study where they strapped cameras to a bunch of indoor/outdoor kitties and taped their activities throughout the day and night. Guess what they found? Apparently all cats do all day is try to murder things. I say “murder” because they are not eating these things for nutrition. They are usually just torturing them, killing them, and then dumping the body. They are pretty much serial killers. Not only that, but they extremely proficient serial killers. The results of that study predicted that the average free-roaming feline successfully kills something every 17 hours. EVERY..17… HOURS! This is an animal that sleeps 15 hours a day! That is incredible. Dahmer couldn’t touch those numbers with a stick.
I talk a lot of shit about Barry, but the truth is I have grown slightly fond of him. I can’t say he doesn’t crack me up sometimes or that I’m not impressed with some of his acrobatics. I won’t say that I hate having never seen a rat or mouse anywhere near my kitchen (at least none that weren’t bleeding from the face). I’ve even instagramed him a few times, mostly cataloging a few of the many peculiar positions in which he chooses to sleep. Despite my many issues with Barry, I have grown to love the little guy in my own strange way. At least as much as one can love a tiny, seemingly drug-addled mass murderer whose dander has caused one to feel like they’ve had a mild case of the flu/poison oak almost every day since 2010.