This is my cat, Georgie. I have a rather unique attitude towards pets, in that I generally consider them to be completely disposable. Some call this callousness, I call it post-modernism, whatever. If one dies, I simply buy a new one. And if a live one annoys me too much, I usually take it to the vet and have it put down.
Georgie has been on thin ice for a while now, because despite being cute, she is the most irritating and fickle creature I’ve ever known. (And I have worked at an accounting firm and dated many musicians, for your reference.) Georgie likes to be let in and out of the house roughly every half hour, day and night. When I am sleeping too deeply to hear her scratching at the back door outside, she jumps onto my window-sill, grabs the fly-screen with her claws and slams the frame against the window pane repeatedly until I am jarred from my slumber. “I hate you,” I tell her, cracking open the window and lifting the screen for her to crawl through. She glances at me briefly before wandering to her food bowl, eating one biscuit, and then meowing at the back door to be let out again. I imagine having a child to be similar to this sleepless, constantly annoyed state, which is why I use eleven different methods of contraception, including abstinence.
Georgie does not want anything much to do with any of us, but requires a human around at all times. Just in case. Usually she has my mother, who is lazy and rarely goes out, but whenever my parents are away, Georgie finds herself alone during the day and becomes anxious. She follows me around the house at night and jumps on top of my computer, my dinner plate, my piano, whatever is occupying my attention when I should be more concerned about her needs. When I go to the bathroom, she scratches frantically on the door and wails mournfully. I let her inside and she perches on the edge of the bathtub and stares at me intensely as I sit on the toilet. Unused to such scrutiny, I get stage fright and do not urinate for 3 days.
The reason I cannot get rid of Georgie is because despite the fact that she is cold and sometimes violent, I love the boundaries she forces others to accept. She will allow herself to be patted sometimes, but only if the person patting her doesn’t obviously want it too much, and only if they are satisfied after a few pats. You may not grab her or hold her in any way. You may not pick her up and put her on your lap either, although she may deign to sit on your lap if it is a chilly night and she is feeling sleepy.
I recently complained to my friend Matt about Georgie and how I sometimes wished she was more affectionate with me. I was lying on the lounge while Georgie sat on the coffee table, staring at me suspiciously. She knew that I was talking about her.
“I just don’t know what to do with her,” I told Matt. “She’s not really contributing much to the household. I think it might be time to go, you know? Try a different breed or something?”
“Annik, this cat is you,” Matt said.
“What do you mean?” I asked, reaching out to scratch Georgie behind one ear. She snapped at my hand, then rubbed her nose against my arm.
“Well she looks pretty and friendly, so people want to touch her,” Matt explained, “Sometimes she’s receptive and affectionate, usually with total strangers. But if you’re a nice, caring person and actually try to get close to her, she’ll scratch your fucking face off.”
“Mmm..” I said, rolling onto my back, “I guess she can stay.” As if on cue, Georgie stepped from the coffee table onto the lounge and settled down on my chest. She nuzzled her face into my neck and fell asleep.
Precisely four minutes later she woke up, dug her claws into my shoulder and hissed at my face, then fled from the room.
Those four minutes were nice though.