Features  Impractical Cats

Kitten life isn’t quite the way Old Possum made it out to be

Eliot and Hemingway and Twain loved their cats. Writers, both iconic and would-be, often do, probably because writers are lazy and cats are low-maintenance. Owning a cat is an attractive idea; the reality is not so rosy. Particularly when you are allergic to the creatures, and the one that lives in your house regularly unleashes torrents of diarrhea in the bathtub.

On August 23, the stray cat that showed up at my apartment one day and refused to leave gave birth. Naturally, she ignored the nest I had prepared for her in favour of my roommate’s dresser. The two resulting creatures looked like gerbils and sounded like baby birds. There was also a third, stillborn. Françoise greedily swallowed the afterbirth of her living offspring and licked them clean, but the dead kitten’s placenta went uneaten. It stayed, wet and unnaturally twisted, in the corner. I am not proud of the way I disposed of the thing.

Now, all brother and sister do is fight, and they are getting very good at it. They kick each other’s faces and gnaw ears. When they annoy Françoise, she seizes their throats in her teeth and pins them to the ground. Then, sometimes, they stop moving.

That cat, the mother, was all I had this summer – those nights when you smoke on the porch even though you don’t smoke, watching the neighbours try to parallel park. An animal doesn’t listen, but it hears you when you speak, looking up with half-dumb pupils expanding in the darkness.

Cats’ independence makes them seem disposable, and there are too many in a world with too few homes for them. Now, in any case, my home has two more.

Text by Drew Nelles, images by Stephen Davis