The Devil Wears Dander

God bless the little children, for they do not yet know to be wary of the deranged, venomous, man-eating, spawn of Satan who assumes the form of a cat here on earth.

She was once a sweet little black kitten named Desdemona who purred and mewed and made people say "awwwwwww." Each night, she fashioned a crawlspace between the crook of my neck and the pillow, where she curled up and licked behind my ears until she fell asleep.
Fifteen excruciatingly long vomit-on-the-bedspread years later, this creature is so ornery, so hateful, that even Nate (who would prefer to be with animals over adults any day of the week) is crossing his fingers that each hairball she hacks up will be the one that puts us out of our--er, her--misery.

Desi is still all black except for the large hairless patch on her stomach, the result of dragging her massive drooping belly along the rug. She's easily more than twenty pounds (twenty-seven with the dander) but it's impossible to know the exact number since no one dares lift her. If you try she will growl. If you ignore the growl she will hiss, summoning breath from a place so deep that it permeates the air with the stench of undigested Pounce treats from 1993. You may think you are brave; this sound will convince you that you are mistaken. Many a houseguest has tiptoed into my room in the middle of the night just to beg me to move the cat from the bathroom doorway.

This is Desi's house and she makes the rules. You do not touch her, you do not smile at her, you do not try to play with her. And she is willing to hurt you if that's what it takes to make you understand.

And then, here comes the baby. The sweet, naive baby whose delighted reaction to the cat is only second to her delighted reaction to her daddy when he does his head banging imitation while singing the jingle from the Progressive Insurance commercial.

Yesterday I cautiously allowed Thalia to pet the cat for the first time. As we approached, you could almost hear Desi's thoughts, a feline Bobby DeNiro asking "Me? You lookin' at me? You wanna play with me?" But she sat there. And she took it.

Go kiss your children, stat. The apocalypse is upon us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

aww the pic with the cat & baby is sooo cute!
We have a cat as well that can be "difficult", however he is always gentle with Becca.

2/23/06, 2:11 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

Gawd, I hate cats! Which is not as unproblematic as it seems, considering I have two of them. You are a brave mommy.

2/23/06, 2:21 PM  
Blogger the stefanie formerly known as stefanierj said...

Ah, we also have the devil-spawn variety, in the feline form of a mostly-black tortiseshell. I don't think D even knows she exists.

But the little black cat (aka the LBC)? Oh, the baby loves her more than either of his parents, and she is remarkably tolerant.

I think the Furred Ones have a 6th sense that human babies are not to be messed with--sort of like a girlfriend who will tell you all kinds of truth about yourself, except that you're fat, because no friendship could ever recover from that.

2/23/06, 2:36 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Likewise, we had two cats when Tacy was born, and I can still remember the looks on their faces whenever Tacy and I would return from a walk. I could read the thoughts in their little kitty grain-of-rice-sized brains: "You brought it BACK? I thought it was gone for GOOD this time." They gradually adjusted and even submitted to occasional petting.

Glad your introduction went smoothly. Is Desi declawed? Ours were not, which was my major source of worry.

2/23/06, 3:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I just surfed in through MU and I am thrilled! You have a cool blog! Glad to be able to visit!

2/23/06, 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My cats are generally terrified of my kids, but the older one (cat, not kid) is too old and lazy to go far when approached. She'll give a threatening meow/growl when smacked by the not-yet-used-to-gentle baby, but has not viciously attacked. I think the cats know they'd be in big trouble if they harmed a kid.

Now, if a houseguest comes in the room -- say, my mom -- the older cat's viciousness comes out in force and she will meow unpleasantly and strike out if someone comes near her. Yet she's loving and sweet with hubby and me.

2/23/06, 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure what you have is a cat?

Because from here it looks like a puma.

2/23/06, 7:26 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Our cat unceremoniously divorced us when Em was three. After three years of puking as a way to show us he was displeased with the addition of the child. He took off one day. He had tried all tricks to get rid of her, but to no avail. He brought squirrels and chipmunks and birds. He desired to prove he was amore valubale member of the household.

The only thing worse than Pounce breath? Knowing your cat has eaten what ever is on the porch and then is in your face bretahing mouse on you.

2/23/06, 8:09 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks for all the empathy. I'm printing this out as fodder for Nate who wants to get a new kitten--a "child-friendly" one. I think we have a better shot at finding a nice, friendly, rescue unicorn.

2/23/06, 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a cat lover myself - but my dogs - well, they only like Q if she is giving them treats - the older one could care less about her and has run her over in his race to the door a few times - the other one, well, he's too dumb to know the difference.

2/24/06, 12:24 AM  
Blogger Happy Chicken said...

I have neither children or cats. I assume they both have their advantages and challenges.

I recently discovered blogging and am glad to find an intelligent, insightful, and well written blog. Brava! A word of caution, though, beware of scrapbookers. They prey on new mothers. It's Amway with pictures.

2/24/06, 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our cat is a total bitch. She literally bites the hand that feeds her all the time. The vet is scared of her and she has a stamp on her file that indicates she bites. She is surprisingly good with our daughter though... and now that the girl is 4, she just picks her up and tows her around the house. The cat hates it but puts up with it.

Recently, the cat developed some sort of growth on her chin. I was thinking tumor (?!) and when the vet got back to me to tell me it was simply cat acne that had gotten infected, I was all "oh doc, are you sure? maybe we should put her out of her misery." Apparently putting cats to sleep for such reasons is not ethical.

2/24/06, 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have the same cat - only it has long hair and goes by the name "Wolfgang" (Wolfy if your nasty). Our 18 month old son is scared of the cat only because Wolfy hissed at him. And yeah, we don't know how much he weighs because if you try to pick him up, he hisses and farts. Sad, state of affairs!

2/25/06, 2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had an all white cate named Camelot who was the same way. Suffice it to say, I am now a DOG person.

2/25/06, 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, I remember it well. You had left for work. I was alone in your apt with. . .her. She was in the kitchen doorway. I desparately wanted a glass of water. I went thirsty. That cat is something else. My hands started to sweat when I saw the picture of sweet little Thalia staring into the eyes of Des---I'm sure Des is just hypnotizing her.

Hey, but my two old cats are doing fine with my three kids, so go figure.

2/26/06, 1:38 PM  

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