Love my house and neighborhood, but the posse of stray cats in my neighborhood is going to make me buy a BB gun. Just joking, but I have called Animal Control. Did I ever tell ya’ll how terrified I am of cats? In general, pets really aren’t my thing. Growing up, we had the occasional, temporary pet (a hamster, a bird, carnival fish and a couple of dogs), but nothing that I ever got emotionally attached too. Me human, you animal. I’m not knocking those that love their pets to death (Hey Creole!!), but it’s just not me.
I’ve been scarred of cats for as long as I can remember. There is just something about them. The way they sneak around and move without making a sound – Yick! The way their eyes seem to narrow into little slits and look right through you – Yuck! And then, the thing I hate the most is when they arch their backs and point their tails straight up in the air – ARGH!
So, obviously, living in an urban/suburban environment is a big, big challenge for yours truly. People think that it’s “sweet” and “caring” to feed strays and people choose not to spray and neuter their pets, so we’ve got millions of unwanted aka stray cats running around. NOT COOL! If you want kittens, go for it. If you don’t, then control ya animal cause if you don’t they are going to find a friend and do what comes naturally. Everybody need a little love, even the damn cats. Ok, ok, off my soapbox and back to the story.
Let me tell ya’ll about the childhood incident that thoroughly cemented my fear and guaranteed that my future offspring would never be the happy owners of a kitten. Sorry kids, tears won’t help cause Mommy is terrified. Go and play with your goldfish.
I was eight years old and I had a small aversion of cats. I didn’t want one and I would flinch when I walked near one on the street. But all in all, they just kinda scared me. I would classify it as an intense dislike, bordering on fear. Until that day. That day changed everything.
My mother was working with houseplants on our front porch and she sent me into the garage to get a small clay pot for her. I walked around the side of the house and approached the open garage. It was midday, but it was overcast and not very bright out, so the garage was a bit on the dim side. I stepped inside the garage and reached into the right corner for the light switch. But instead, my hand connected with the identical garage door switch and the door began to close. Duh, flip the switch back up and it will reverse direction. Yeah, yeah, I know that now, but at the time, I guess I thought it had to close completely before I could open it again.
Now, remember, I said that it was kinda dim inside the garage. And the garage door, looked like this, so not much light was getting in. Well, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I was turning to face the light switches, a flash of light caught my eye in the corner. And then that flash of light moved.
AAAAHHHHHH!!!! I was trapped in the garage with a cat! A panther! A tiger! A LION!!!! Holy hell, Batman! What to do, what to do, I thought frantically. Rational thought – open the door and leave the garage. Irrational thought – scream bloody murder, have an asthma attack and faint on the floor inside the garage. Let’s go with option B.
So, when I regained consciousness, the first thing that I felt was a pain in the back of my head. Ouch, I thought. My eyes were closed and I just wanted to lay there. My mom had to start missing me soon, although I was the type to get easily distracted from the task at hand and take a few extra minutes to complete the assignment. Anyway, I was hoping that she had heard my scream and would be opening the garage door with her remote within seconds. When the cavalry didn’t come, I slowly opened my eyes. I expected to see the ceiling of the garage, but instead, I was staring into a set of eyes. As I tried to register what was in my line of sight, the beast extended his tongue and licked my cheek like it was a double serving of fresh tuna. I was so scared that I was unable to even scream. I reacted on pure survival instincts, by swinging my left arm and knocking the cat across the room. He landed in a pile of garden tools with a “Meeeoowww, aaaaarrrrrrrwwwwnnnnnn”. I jumped up, began beating on the door to the garage like an insane person trapped in a sanitarium and screamed in long, extended wails like that of an approaching emergency vehicle.
The seconds felt like hours until the garage door began to rise. As soon as I could see the ground outside, I flattened myself into a pancake and slid beneath the rising door. Both of my parents stood there with worried expressions on their faces. I burst into tears and jumped into my father’s arms. My mother peeked inside the garage, realized the source of my distress and closed the door again. My father carried me inside and my mother made me a bowl of ice cream.
From that day forward, I have avoided cats. I am terrified beyond measure. People who’ve heard this story say, “Oh the cat was worried and just trying to wake you by liking you.” Bullshit, I say, that cougar wanted to eat me! I can’t watch commercials on television that feature cats. I am unable to walk down the pet food aisle in the grocery store. I will not visit a home where a cat lives; none of that, “I’ll lock it in the bathroom/basement/etc”. Those little tigers are smart and I know they can escape when necessary. If I do encounter a cat in my daily travels, I become paralyzed with fear and usually end up injuring the person closest to me with nail marks in their arms and a semi-busted eardrum from my screams. Yes, I know how irrational fear is, but we’ve all got ‘em. Except mine lives on four legs, owns sharp teeth and could beat me in a foot race. What are you afraid of? I won’t laugh, I promise!!