Nine Lives Frisky

Are you an animal lover? Do you have pets? The Chinese aren’t big on the pets-n-baby scenario. I like to tell friends and co-workers what some of the members in my wife’s and my extended family said to us when we announced we were going to have a baby.

One of the comments was (loosely translated):

“Now, that you are going to be parents, it’s time to grow up and get rid of your pets. The dog is cute so you could probably sell him but you should probably just put the cats to sleep…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and just bit my tongue through the rest of how inhaling or ingesting cat hair causes cancer.

My poor cats. They were to blame for everything from the common cold to the path to Armageddon. Our dog caused human blight as well but not to the degree that our cats did. I was not always a cat lover. I did not have a cat when I was growing up. We went through several dogs and fish. It was not until the summer after my freshman year in college when I owned my first cat. Rain. It was a tiny black kitten that a friend had brought over. I didn’t want to come back to the City, so I was renting the first floor of a house with friends under the guise of finding a job. I spent most of the summer hanging out, smoking, and drinking. The cat ran away when I came home to NYC for a month to earn some money.

My next cat experience was through my first real girlfriend. She was actually the first woman I would say I was in love with. With a few exceptions my wife reminds me a lot of my first real girlfriend. My girlfriend was White, my wife is Vietnamese. My first real girlfriend loved cats, my wife loves dogs. My first real girlfriend and I might still be together now, if I weren’t so emotionally retarded then. I had a lot of strong opinions then. I’ve since learned that 2+2 doesn’t always equal 4 (though the sum may be similar). My first real girlfriend lived at home with nine cats. For Christmas, a year into our relationship, I went and adopted a cat. He was a Maine Coon Cat. His name was “Spike.”

My first real girlfriend and I broke up. I was unemployed and couldn’t pay the rent anymore. After a night of drinking by myself, I decided I had lost. It was time to move back home to my father’s house. My father forbade me from bringing Spike home and my first real ex-girlfriend couldn’t take him either. I think one of her roommates was allergic. Spike went to a nice security guard who worked the plaza where the Fotomat store I used to work in was. I meet him in the street and handed him the cat. It was a warm day. The sun was out. It might have been spring. I don’t remember. People were having brunch, so it must have been a Sunday.

It was painful. I was in a daze. It didn’t seem real. I have him tattooed to my arm. It was my second tattoo.

A friend of mine helped me load all of my stuff into a van and we drove all night. That same friend also helped me move into my first apartment in NYC. I got our current cat, Squat, shortly after. He was a stray that wandered the Brooklyn neighborhood where I lived. He was a runt (though you couldn’t tell it now). He been badly beaten up in a cat fight. It costs a whole month’s rent to get him fixed and patched up.

We got our second cat, our first New Year’s living in Manhattan. She was a tiny white kitten my wife named Tomoko. She and Squat have been members of our family since.

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