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How Jordan got Cats

by Jordan Orzoff, Minnesota, USA


I've always considered myself a cat-hater. No cat in particular, just general principles. Or lack thereof. Sneaky clawed little bastards, y'never know when one is going to shred your skin or something. And they don't SIT and COME and ROLL OVER like dogs.

OK, where was I? Ah, yes, a few days after Christmas, 1993. I've just returned to Minneapolis from Chicago, and I'm taking care of business. Doing laundry, not dealing drugs, my friend. As I make the trek from my apartment to the laundry room, I notice this large white-and-grey cat parked against the utility room door. Just lolling there. Not doing much of anything. Since I live off an indoor hall, this is odd, but I ignore the cat. Years of practice.

I make trek after trek. Bringing the whites. Bringing the darks. Bringing more quarters. Bringing some of that static cling stuff that feels real greasy. Each trip I make, the cat has edged a little closer to my apartment door. Well, I'm not a doctoral student for nothing -- I can see the writing on the wall. On the last trip, I make a dive to close the door -- whoosh! Cat inside!

I open the door. "Cat, get out." It doesn't respond to voice commands, and the open door? Might as well be a piece of early Cubist art for all the interest the cat has. The cat proceeds to make himself thoroughly at home, exploring every nook and cranny of the apartment. (For the record, it's got three nooks and a cranny and a half, plus a walk-in closet.) My long-squelched sense of generosity comes into play, and I figure that this is a stray cat and I might as well take care of it until the owner claims it. Now, I am vaguely aware that cats eat little cans that cause them to sing meow along with a bouncing ball and that they do something gross in a litter box, but that's about it. However, like every gamer on the planet, I have at least five hundred close personal friends who are cat owners. I call one.

Amused by my panic ("It's in the bathtub! What do I do now?! It's rubbing its head against my leg! Help!"), she instructs me in the Care and Feeding of Unwanted Cats. I proceed to make an 11 PM trip to the grocery store for cans of cat food (leaving me in the bizarre position of standing in the aisle debating the merits of Fisherman's Stew vs. Liver Nuggets), a plastic pan, and Scoop Away Clumping Cat Litter (which I buy because it comes in a milk gallon container and is thus comfortingly familiar even though I won't drink it).

I return, warily, to the apartment. Cat is still there. I place pan on floor, pour litter into pan, step back. Cat approaches pan, scratches litter, walks away. I open can of cat food, wrinkle nose in revulsion, set it down. Cat sets upon it like he's never eaten before. Instant bonding.

So, I place an ad with the local Humane Society (very nice people, by the way) and post signs on all the entrances to the building. I wait. Cat grows increasingly attached to me and even rips up the carpet next to the door if I dare lock him out of the bedroom or bathroom. My damage deposit begins to shrink. Friends come over and coo over cat. I decide cat needs a name, so I call him Pirate, because of the large gray patch over one eye. Little do I know I have identified his personality.

Over next few weeks, cat becomes increasing territorial. Pirate has all my guests in fear of my apartment, because he hisses and claws at anyone who comes in. Except for me. ME, he wants to sleep with. Reminds me of some relationships I've been in.

Month passes. Nobody claims cat. Cat accompanies me to vet and we get our shots. Vet thinks Pirate is adorable, but it still takes three people to hold him down for injection. In my first attempt to mellow Pirate's personality, I get him neutered. This teaches HIM to come wandering into my apartment uninvited and should give any of YOU pause before you drop by my place. Heh heh heh.

No such luck. Pirate continues to worship me and attack guests. After three months, as sign of continuing mental deterioration, I go to Humane Society to get a friend for Pirate. Josie is a tiny black and white "tuxedo and mittens" female who absolutely adores every single person she has ever met or ever will meet. She and Pirate get along pretty well, but Pirate is still mean to people.

Four months after Pirate moves in, Pirate's owner shows up. He lives next door to me. He kicked the cat out of his apartment ("for some air") and was glad when he didn't have to let it back in. Tales of Pirate's kittenhood told which make me suspect prior owner was cat abuser. It's every psychologist's dream -- Past Trauma Revealed As Indicator Of Present Counter-Social Behaviors.

Advance another four months. Friend's cat has kittens. I am resolute in not taking one until I actually see kittens. Lucky (gray and white tabby) joins household. Despite being roughly 1/6th Pirate's size, Lucky proceeds to stake his dominance no more than two days after arriving. Pirate and Josie have great fun with Lucky. Lucky keeps other cats away from Pounce treats. Pirate celebrates by taking a flying, hissing, clawing leap at my next guest.

There you have it. How Jordan Got Cats.


Editor's note: :(


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