The cat wails plaintively, pathetically, for no known reason. It is high-pitched and high-decibel. It’s a distress signal, a siren from the depths of hell that is feline.
Cats are OK. I like them well enough, about as much as I like, I dunno, pet pigs. I don’t like them as much as I love pet rats, that is certain. Pet rats and I go way back. It’s an intricate relationship.
In my life, I’ve had a half dozen rats: Phoebe, Becky, LaShonda, Tammy, etc. They are like mini dogs — affectionate, social, clean and wickedly intelligent. They play. They come when called. They like their bellies rubbed. They drink beer. Dogs are tops, but rats are little badasses.
I’ve had about five cats, including this wailer who indiscriminately cries, whines and yowls. It’s like living with a sickly crone, or a werewolf.
The cat, a rescue named Spicy by his prior owner, resides with his sister, Tiger-Lily. She rarely makes a peep, only the occasional textbook meow, the sound you hear when you look up “meow” in the dictionary.
Tiger is sweet, gentle, svelte, independent. Spicy is pushy, needy, burly, noisy. Plus his eyes weep goop like the Exxon Valdez.
But Spicy is cherished. He’s an animal, after all, and animals tend to deserve unconditional love, spoiled as they are because they are cute and cuddly, fun and furry, smart and, in Spicy’s case, smart-alecky.
Is he smarter than us? He slinks with an underplayed intelligence and studied detachment. His yellow eyes burn through you, laser beams of simmering condescension. When they’re not softening at half-mast during cuddle mode, those eyes are saying, “Screw you.”
He nips with sharp teeth to prod you to stroke him, to demonstrably adore him. He climbs in your lap when there’s already a laptop there, plop. He claws at the carpet with violent resolve, sounding like someone’s hair is being ripped out. And, of course, he whines and caterwauls like an opera diva in grandiose agony. He thinks all of this is charming, and it is to a point. But he’s giving cats a bad rep.
Of course Spicy does not represent all cats. He isn’t even emblematic of truly bad felines, like those cringey manimals from “Cats.” No, he’s in-between, part cuddle kitty, part son of a bitch. Don’t get me wrong. I love him like a pet. Just not my pet.
Tiger-Lily and Cubby the dog own more of my heart. Cubby may bark like a madman and scratch the paint off the door on occasion, but he’s all angel, whereas Spicy has a satanic streak. Sometimes you’ll try to pet him and he’ll arch his back and bristle his fur. Devil cat!
And those yowls he emits evoke “The Exorcist” more than “Puss in Boots.” As I said, though, I like him alright, even if he’s trouble. Meow? More like meh.