I’ve been accused by those close to me to be occasionally… well, dark. Downright cynical even. This is not new, and it doesn’t bother me. I definitely have a pessimistic streak, but it’s not overpowering; I’m definitely not a pessimist, I just don’t think every cloud has a silver lining. I also hate holidays that most people (normal people?) consider fun, like Christmas and birthdays. Saturday was my birthday, so my disposition for the weekend always was going to be a bit darker than usual. But in the interest of squashing the rumors that I’m a pure cynic: a) I got to sleep past 8:00am on Sunday, and this was good, b) I had a nice lunch on Saturday with my wife and daughter, c) dinner with friends and family on Saturday, this was good, and d) I got to talk with a bunch of people on Saturday that I really care about, that was good. OK. Done.

I went to bed pretty late last night. (Sunday.) The new cat was under our bed in our bedroom, still seperate from the dogs and still quarantined from the outer world as she grows accustomed to her new home. My wife was asleep on my daughter’s bed,. I went in, didn’t let the dogs in, and slept. I woke to the sound of meowing, and I could make out the blurred shape of the cat in our window that I knew was the new cat. I didn’t know if she had food or water in our room, but she wasn’t looking for them, she was looking out the window, and she didn’t sound happy. So after a couple minutes, I figure I’ll pick her up and sit with her a little, maybe she just needed a hug. I started by gently talking to her as I got out of the bed. It’s almost pitch black in the room and I don’t have glasses on, but I make out her shape looking toward me. My quiet voice is partly to calm her, partly because it’s the middle of the night and I just want to sleep, and partly just so I don’t startle her. I’d been told she’s a little skittish, so when I’ve sat and held her under other circumstances, I’ve been very quiet and calm and couldn’t believe that this cat was going to have any kind of trouble fitting into our loving little household. So I gently reach down to pick her up as I’ve already done 5 or 10 times since Friday afternoon. This is what I’ll remember as the exact moment that I found out that the new cat, as yet unnamed, is fucking insane. “A little skittish” doesn’t cover it.

At my first touch, she exploded with rage and latched onto one of my fingers with her teeth and started kicking my arms with her back talons. She bit through my fingernail on one side and sliced the flesh back on the other on the middle finger of my left hand. I haven’t had sensations like that too often, so my right leg collapsed somehow from the pain in my hand – no, I don’t know why, but I was there and you’ll have to take my word for it – and I landed as gently as could be done on the carpet-over-concrete-and-nothing-else floor. I saw white stars from the knee-crushing. The cat was hissing and moaning like Bruce Lee, still scratching my arms and legs, and I realized that I was still trying to hold on to her for some reason. I’m an idiot. I let go, and she bolted off to crash through the room. She ran into the iron pellet stove – BING! – colliding with and then passing the open closet doors, and finally into the bathroom, where I could hear her knocking over stuff on the sink, deoderant and makeup and hairspray and such. She darted out of the bathroom again, knocking the toilet lid closed on the way out. She crashed into the open closet doors again – CLONK – CRACK – and I got the bathroom light on so I could see a little. She’s still shrieking like an alley cat and I hear shit falling down and being run into and I hear my wife and daughter talking through the wall in the room over. I have the odd insight that the cat weighs probably 2 or 3 pounds. I’m pretty sure if I don’t keep a pretty tight grip on my left hand that it’ll fall into perfect square pieces like when Sylvester the Cat runs through a mesh screen.

The cat sees me as she’s about to run through the bedroom again, doubles back, and crashes back into the bathroom. This time it’s plastic-scooting noises and she’s probably run into my daughter’s step stool or something. My left hand is shaking and my knee is throbbing and I still don’t have glasses on so everything’s blurry and unstable like in that Billy Dee Williams Colt 45 commercial from the early 90s. (“Colt 45 – works every time!”) I’m still half asleep. I reach in to turn the light out, but I’m cautious because somehow the cat might have demonic powers and somehow be perching on the wall like Spider Man just above the light switch or something. I manage to slam the door shut before she decides to leave again and maybe somehow get me on my back to finish me off. There’s still Bruce Lee cat shrieking and all kinds of bathroom shit being knocked over, but now that the beast is contained, I can focus on my own pain. I stumble out of the room, panting.

I limp into the kitchen to run cold water on my hands. Everyone knows that running water is a miraculous booboo curall. I can’t think of anything else to do anyway, I just want to sleep. Blood’s streaming out of cuts and bites on both hands, but as I get a better look, none of it looks too bad. That finger where she bit through the fingernail still hurts like hell, as does the corresponding skin flap on the opposite side of the finger, resulting from the newly reinforced truth that cats have teeth on the bottom AND the top of their mouths. Regardless of how it looks, it’s throbbing. But for as much pain as I felt, I’m pretty OK, not the exposed bones and tendons I’d expected to see. My wife comes in to ask what happened, and I briefly explain. I was still talking when I realized she’d walked away to go check on the cat.

I’m still in “I hate birthday” mode, so everything is personal, and I’m wondering why she’s checking on the cat instead of watching me take care of myself. What’s the point of looking at the cat when I’m in the kitchen ALL BY MYSELF, running MY OWN WATER on my wounds. Shouldn’t that be part of her job description? And my birthday was only 2 days ago, doesn’t that count for something? And what are they talking about in there? “Did that big man’s tender arm and hand flesh hurt your widdle needle-like fangs?” Or what? It’s supposed to be all about me!!! Meeeee!!!!!!!!

My left hand is still shaking, but my heart’s slowing down, and my knee is throbbing. I shake it off – gotta let go of that attitude – and commit to just going back to bed and letting bygones be bygones, tomorrow is another day. Then I make the mistake of looking at the clock. It’s about 5:30. I think, “But that can’t be right, otherwise it would be starting to get…” and then I see it. The first signs of sunlight are revealing over the Pecos mountains. I try to stop myself, but I do the math and realize that I’ve slept for about 2 hours total before I got up to be attacked by the kitten. I now have maybe 90 minutes of potential sleep available to me if I can ignore my pulsing hand and knee and the growing sunlight and the fact that I know I need to fall asleep again as fast as possible. It worked about as well as you’d probably guess. I kept having thoughts like, “I get attacked by 2 huge dogs and don’t get so much as a nick, but a 2-pound kitten just fucked me up in about 20 seconds. Without even trying.” There’s something troubling about it; I know I’d fist-fight a 125 pound dog to save my own life, but what do you do with a kitten? You can’t fist-fight a kitten. Even if it were logistically possible, you just don’t want to be caught in the act. Especially if you’re losing.

Even though this birthday weekend was far better than I would have allowed for in almost every way, all I can focus on is that I’ve made lifelong enemies with a fuzzy black kitten. But I knew I’d withstood her terror – I didn’t let out a grunt, groan or scream the whole time. Stoic silence throughout the melee. She couldn’t break me. 

Happy birthday.

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