April 2011: Feline Subterfuge

The cat doesn’t like me.

Five years ago, my housemate came home carrying a ragged armful of fur. That purred. At least as long as he was holding it.

He named the furbag Jinx, and I hauled the cat off to the vet to be neutered, checked over, and given the medicine needed to remove a nasty case of neck mites that he was intent on passing on to the rest of the household.

Jinx settled in quickly. He never really got used to the idea of being an exclusively indoor cat, and evenly spends his time outdoors as well as in. When outdoors, his favorite activities include chasing squirrels, birds and snakes, as well as climbing trees so he can jump on to our roof to watch the goings on in the neighborhood.

Indoors, his favorite activities include eating, sleeping, playing with my housemates, and biting me.

I love cats; I always have. I learned to crawl by following around Fluffy, a gray tomcat that adopted me as an infant, possibly thinking I was his mother. Considering how much hair I was born with, the mistake is understandable.

For the most part, cats seem to like me as well. Jinx, however … it’s a love/hate relationship.

I feed the cat; I water the cat. If I forget, he reminds me. If I’m late, he reminds me. Usually by climbing onto the shelf behind my chair and clawing at my head. For all the care I give this cat, I’m rewarded with chomps to the arm.
From a distance, he’s cute and cuddly. For anyone else, he’s cute and cuddly. For me, picking him up is the equivalent of squeezing a ball of yarn and finding the sewing needles that had been lost. Pointy end first.

Jinx is an expert at drawing me in. With a relaxed come-hither stare through half-closed eyes, he’ll lay sleepily on his back, his legs in the air, spreading his tummy into a horizon of the softest, most pettable, irristible fur. I simply cannot resist the chance to ran my hand across this offered plateau of feline delights; but before my hand can even reach the squirrel-fed plump stomach, the mantrap will close. All four of Jinx’s legs will spring shut around my arm, trapping my hand with claws drawing my fingers into his mouth. I’m fairly certain he can unhinge his jaws from the way his head nearly splits in half as he latches his teeth around my hand, claws digging deep as he seeks the taste of my blood. Time and time again I fall for his duplicity. Truly, I feel he revels in his power.

At other times, he simply doesn’t have the patience to practice his cat-trap methods. Numerous nights I’ve had my sleep interrupted by the feeling of something creeping up my bed, perching on my shoulder, and then becoming more awake the more an ice-cold nose pushes its way into my ear or eyeball. This is usually followed by a tenative, hesitant paw to the cheek, caressing my face with seemingly loving strokes, but quickly becoming more aggressive, and adding claws.

If by now I haven’t tossed him into the dirty laundry pile on the other side of the room, Jinx knows it’s safe to begin chewing my face. No nibbling for him- once more he unhinges his jaws and clamps his teeth onto my cheek as firmly as he can.

Jinx must enjoy being tossed into the air in the middle of the night.

A part of me hopes that one day, he’ll show me the same affection he does other people. But when he’s getting pettings from anyone else, he invariably swivels his head until he can stare balefully at me, his purr taking on the dark taint of evil as he locks his yellow eyes with mine. As I squint back  at my arch-nemesis, I can’t help but think that in his mind, he’d like to be chewing on my arm. Perhaps I taste like tuna, although I’ve always assumed I taste like pork. Or chicken. All mystery meat tastes like chicken, so I’ve heard. But I’ve never tasted my own flesh, or any other human’s for that matter, so a mystery it will remain.

As will the mystery of why, for all my tender care, Jinx continues to rain his furry feline fury down upon me.

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