I hate cats.
I say that with the full knowledge that hating cats is all the rage right now. All sorts of people hate cats then go eat sushi then film themselves tweeting about these activities on their Twitter feeds then upload these videos to YouTube. They do all this while wearing v-neck t-shirts from American Apparel and skinny jeans and plastic Blues Brothers sunglasses in fluorescent green and pink. These people have long conversations about the drawbacks of cats while smoking organic American Spirit cigarettes and listening to A.A. Bondy and Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes.
However, before you lump me into the same category as the chic cat haters who drink Sparks and refuse to wear deoderant, please hear me out and then decide whether or not my feline vitriol is justified.
My family had lots of cats when my two sisters and I were youngerâ€”Cinnamon and Sugar, Emily and Bubba. I forget what happened to the first two, but when I was walking through the garage one morning to get to my car, I discovered a bloodied and torn-up Emily laying on the polished concrete. I went back inside to tell my mom that Emily had had a run-in with a coyote or raccoon or disturbed teenager. Poor Emily died soon after.
Bubba disappeared my junior year of college around Halloween. The police had found evidence of Satanic rituals in the hills surrounding our neighborhood, so I hoped that a pack of hungry coyotes were the culprits. I’ve heard that cats wander off to die alone, so maybe it was just Bubba’s time. Who knows.
Cats were never my favorite. I prefer dogs. However, I never bore any true malice towards them. They don’t love you the ways dogs do, and they stare through you like they know every sin you’ve ever committed. They act likes monarchs, as though in their generosity they allow their owners to continue living in the house so long as they continue to pay homage: small cans of Salmon Florentine with Garden Medley. If the owner defaults on said tax, the cat punish disobedience with needle-sharp teeth and feces-infused claws. It is not for nothing that cats lick their privates and store up dangerous bacteria. Provoke them, and you will be sorry.
I learned this the hard way.
My dad was in the hospital having the latest in a series of surgeries trying to correct a congenital problem with his intestines. A deep-fried meal at Harry T’s in Destin, Florida, precipitated the latest clog in the plumbingâ€”he’d been fine for ten yearsâ€”and my mom finally convinced him to go to the hospital on a Saturday night.
I had planned to return to Knoxville to resume my job hunt, but I wanted to wait around until I knew what was wrong with my dad. The doctors were deciding whether or not he needed surgery on Monday morning. On Sunday night, I invited my friends Hunter, Holly, and Chelsea over to grill out some hamburgers. I was going in and out taking the burgers and seasoning to the grill, so Max the Cat escaped the house. Max is notorious for not wanting to come back inside but on his own good time.
Right about the time we finished dinner, it began to rain. I knew my mom would be upset with me if I left their precious, if demon-possessed, cat outside to get soaked. Even though I thought a good dousing might help his bad attitude, I went outside to find him.
Max was sitting on the brick window ledge outside the den.
I petted him with my right hand to calm him down before trying to pick him up. Once he seemed pacified, I reached forward with my left hand to scoop him up.
Max chomped down twice on my left wrist.
At this point, I was holding him by the scruff, and he was hissing at me.
Whatever. He could suffer in the rain if he was going to be a jerk. Par for the course.
I went back inside to hang out with my friends, who heard the story, saw my bleeding wrist, and agreed that cats are Satan’s special agents of destruction and pain in homes around the world.
Before I went to bed that night, I got a blanket, went back outside, and captured Max. Nobody likes to get bitten, but Max is an animal, so what did I expect? I’m not cruel.
I noticed that my wrist had begun to swell, and I no longer had full range of motion. Interesting.
When I woke up, even bending my wrist was painful.
I went to the hospital and found out that my dad was having surgery, which went very well. After seeing him, I said my good-byes and drove home to pack up my truck to head back to Knoxville. I stopped at my grandparents’ house on my way out of town to pick up a rug.
While telling them about what happened with Max, I noticed that red streaks were running from the bites all the way up to my armpit. I’d seen them earlier but thought I must have just been scratching my arms.
My grandparents suggested that I call my uncle Nathan, who is a doctor. He’d already written a prescription for some by-mouth antibiotics to treat the infection from the bites. When I described the streaks to him, he told me to check myself in to the emergency room at Saint Thomas hospital where he works.
Long story short, I checked myself in and had to stay two nights.
My parents’ cat put me in the hospital for two days. Max the Scourge of the Devil injected me with Bartonella bacteria when he bit me. I got Cat Scratch Disease (CSD). Why? For trying to bring him in out of the rain.
â€œBut he’s just an animal!â€ you argue. â€œHe didn’t know any better!â€
Well, over $2000 in medical bills later, that’s not even the point. I was hooked up to an IV getting liquid antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading to my heart and thus to the rest of my body. My dad was six doors down and on morphine. He couldn’t sleep because he was in so much pain. All sorts of visitors stopped in to see me after they checked on him.
Why was I in the hospital? A stupid, malicious cat.
Talk about feeling ridiculous. Cancer? Heart disease? Kidney stones? Broken bone?
No. A mean cat.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I don’t intend to be shamed.
I’m sure your cat is lovely, a perfect doll. It probably makes you dinner and pays your taxes. It’s probably never put you in the hospital.
Well, bully for you. I hope your cat love affair lasts a lifetime. I hope you grow older together and reminisce on the front porch.
I hate cats. I’d be a fool not to.
If you can think of a good reason for me to reconsider, please feel free to share. Until then, I assert that cats love evil.