A recent phone conversation:
“Curmudgeon residence. Curmudgeon speaking. If you’re a telemarketer prepare to die.”
“Curmudgeon. I’ve got a cat and you need it.”
“I need a cat? Why? Am I too happy?”
“Nope. I read your story. The one about the chipmunk. You need to demote your useless indoor cat and replace it with this one.” (Editors note: refer to Chipmunk Wars Part I, II, III, IV, V, and Useless Cat Update.)
“Forget it. Curmudgeon Compound is full. We’ve attained peak cat. We’re domestically independent of cat import needs. I shall not need another cat until the coyotes get lucky. Unfortunately, for you as well as me, all of my cats appear healthy and intent on living forever; possibly just to annoy me. You’re screwed. Bye…”
“Wait! This cat is special!”
“It kills everything in sight.”
Really? A cat after my own heart. On the other hand, the creature suffers from the incurable ailment of being a cat instead of something less annoying; like a wildebeest. “Nah.” I rejected the idea. Cats are like politicians, more promise than production.
“It’s a good mouser.”
“Sure, and it was only driven to church on Sundays. Not interested.”
“It uses the litterbox, doesn’t scratch stuff…”
“It sits on your lap and purrs. I’ve met your indoor cat and it’s as cuddly as an octopus. A wintertime book by the fire is a whole lot better with a purring cat.”
“I agree. The secondary purpose of a mouser is to purr. But if it’s good for sitting on a lap and still a mouser, why are you unloading it?”
“My kids hate it…”
This was a new one. What could it mean? “Tell me more.”
“We had an ‘event‘.”
“The first time we left the cat alone in the house for a day it went on a rampage. You know my kids have got a whole bunch of pets in the house; well they did. The cat killed nearly half of them.”
“Oh really?” I know this household. There are zoos with less diversity. I love visiting just to meet the critters. Marlin Perkins could have sold insurance in this house.
“I’m not sure what happened. We’ve got screens on all of our tanks and I thought the cages were secure. Maybe the cat figured it out. The gerbils had babies and the cat ate them all.”
“Yuck. Well at least you have the adults. Another few weeks and…”
“No the cat killed them too.”
“Left them dead… like a gangland killing.”
“Plus it somehow got the rabbits.”
“Yeah, both dead.”
“And the lizards.”
“Wait a minute. I thought you had some sort of bearded kimono dragon ‘zilla. It could fight off a…”
“Not that. The geckos.”
“We found them on the other side of the room. With the snakes.
“The boa that could eat a truck tire?”
“No, the little corn snakes, three of them.”
“Just the heads”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“…tragic. What? There’s more?”
“The kid’s 4H project.”
“Baby chicks. Seventeen of them.”
“Dear God no!”
“We’ll have to start from scratch again.”
“That’s why the kids hate this cat!”
“You don’t have a cat. You have a badger.”
“…and we lost some fish too – all in one day!”
“It’s not a badger, it’s a wolverine.”
“We’re pretty sure the cat just decided to kill anything smaller than itself. The kids tossed it outside.”
“How are the farm animals doing?”
“Fine but you know how we just store the feed in a pile?”
“There isn’t a mouse left in the same time zone. Our poultry is free range so they’re used to foxes. The cat can’t get the drop on them. It seems smart enough to leave big critters alone. The pigs, and horse, and dogs…”
“You don’t have a cat, you have a horseman of the apocalypse.”
“Exactly. Want it?”
I pondered this. My useless indoor cat stretched out on the footstool in front of the fire and eyed me with the disdainful look only a cat can muster. That’s my damn footstool. I put my foot the empty half of the stool. The cat immediately took a swipe at my slippers, screeched in anger, and tore off like a shot. As jetted over the couch it knocked down a pile of papers onto the floor. Just great, I’d have to clean that up.
“What would this cat do when it meets mine?”
“To be honest. I think it’ll beat the hell out of anything smaller than it.”
Upstairs I heard Mrs. Curmudgeon yelling; something about ‘get the hell out of the cupboards’. There was a crashing sound. The dog looked at me as if to verify it’s alibi. I pet it and smiled. She’s the size, density, and intelligence of an engine block. The cat would need a hatchet and opposable thumbs to bother the dog.
“Bring the cat.”
There was a relieved sigh. “Whew! The kids will be so happy I bet they throw a party. Look if it doesn’t work out…”
“It comes with a guarantee? If it’s a pain in the butt I can send it back?” Cool!
“…no. I was going to say if it doesn’t work out…”
“…just shoot the bastard.”
Wow, talk about a job reference!
I hung up the phone and went back to my book. Our current (and soon to be outsourced) useless indoor cat trotted in and glared at my feet. My feet were resting comfortably my footstool in front of my wood stove. I’ll give up the comfy footstool to a cat when it pays the mortgage.
I’ll share though. I motioned for the cat to jump on my lap and relax. It flicked it’s tail as if to say it would no more share a chair with me than it would share a bottle of Thunderbird with a derelict under a bridge. Then it sauntered off; probably to break something. I went back to my book happy in the knowledge that cat staff is about to change for the better.