the cats meow

Dear Uma: You are right in thinking Pete's affections have drifted but you cherchezed the wrong femme. Amisi is the new queen of our household.

Dear Uma:

You are right in thinking Pete’s affections have drifted but you cherchezed the wrong femme.

Amisi is the new queen of our household. When Pete comes home she greets him at the door and the two of them have this little love-fest of mutual admiration; sickening, really. When he is home she dines on chicken that he cooks for her, or fish fillets that he poaches for her. As you know, Pete has not ever been in the habit of cooking anything other than bacon and eggs on Sundays.

She sleeps on our bed – between us. During the times of Pete’s absence she sleeps in the ridiculously flowered, cushioned and beribboned cat bed he bought for her. The same cat bed which I move to the porch as soon as his truck leaves the driveway and put back in the bedroom on the day of his homecoming.

We did a quick trip to Whitehorse a few days ago; I was looking forward to some quality time with my husband – just us – but it was not to be. Amisi, contrary to the popular belief that cats do not enjoy travel, declared herself to be passionately fond of journeying, a sort of ‘whither thou goest’ thing as far as I could see, but Pete fell for it and she came along, sitting on a cushion between us.

After doing our shopping it was time for lunch, something I really look forward to when I am in Whitehorse as Watson Lake is short on fine dining. Well, Pete didn’t want to leave Amisi alone in the truck! We ate in the vehicle after doing the drive-through at Macdonald’s: Big Macs for us and Chicken McNuggets for the cat.

I was not lovin’ it, but just last week I’d read about the dimethylpolysiloxane that is one of the ingredients in the McNuggets. It is an anti-foaming agent that keeps the deep-frying oil from getting too frothy. It is a petroleum-based chemical preservative as well and we all now know well just how good for us anything petroleum-based has proven to be. This substance is not confined to Chicken McNuggets, it is also to be found in Silly Putty and some cosmetics.

Interestingly, the McNuggets in the UK do not feature this ingredient “due to different preparation to account for regional tastes.” I would venture to guess the yummy stuff is missing from the UK chicken solely due to the fact that in those countries they have far stricter laws governing honest and thorough labelling of what exactly is in their food. They are not as tolerant as we are in North America of combining putty and mascara ingredients with their luncheon.

After lunch we headed homeward, me watching the cat for signs of illness or distress: not really hoping for it you understand, just maybe a good throw up to convince Pete she was not meant to travel with us.

Amisi obliged me, for once, and regurgitated a vast quantity of half-digested McNuggets mixed with a stinking green slime. Amazingly, none of her mess was on her, Pete, or anywhere in the truck; every bit was on my lap.

We happened to be near a creek and Pete stopped the truck to cuddle the cat while I, unassisted, attempted to wash off her foul-smelling vomit. Luckily the water was shallow, and narrow in width. I was able to actually wade, my long-held fear of water, which has been lessening over the last few years, was finally burned away entirely by the combination of necessity and pure rage. I had to take off my blouse and shorts and wash them in the shallows, following the impromptu laundering by involuntarily submerging my own self in the icy waters. The rocks in the bottom of the creek were slippery, causing me at one point to fall heavily on my back in the water. Did Pete respond to my hollers of distress? Uh uh; he was busy soothing the fevered brow of his ailing fauna

By the time I crawled, soaking wet, back into the cab I was thinking serious thoughts of a mercy killing – not mine. When I suggested to Pete that we turn right around and go back to Whitehorse to find a vet and have the poor ailing cat euthanized (look how she was suffering!) he shot me a look of sheer disbelief, tinged with a dawning awareness that perhaps he was alone with his pleasure in the company of the cat.

She will be fine, he assured me; it is only eating that junk food that made her sick. She has a delicate metabolism, he told me as he gently stroked her furry head. So junk food was fine for my primitive guts, I thought, but too crude for Her Highness’ finer viscera. Amisi, blue eyes slitted in bliss, managed to send me a look of triumph.

The rest of the trip was made in silence, except for Pete’s occasional murmurs of comfort to the cat who now had herself draped over his lap with her nether regions on my leg. I resisted the urge to tweak her tail, thinking surely I could rise above getting into a territorial dispute with a dumb animal.

When we got home, Pete carried the cat in to her bed but when he started to leave she meowed piteously and reached one chocolate-brown paw beseechingly.

I can’t leave her; she’s still upset. You can manage by yourself can’t you? Pete’s look was as pleading as the cat’s as he lifted her from her own bed to place her carefully on ours.

When I had unloaded everything from the truck and stowed it in appropriate places in the house, my clothes and hair had dried and Pete and Amisi were fast asleep on the marital couch.

Remember how you laughed at me when I suggested this is an animal with an agenda? What do you think now? I am convinced that dammed feline would have thrown up no matter what she’d eaten or not eaten; she is an opportunist and recognized a chance to show Pete her neediness and vulnerability and it worked. He has been around when I have thrown up and his only reaction to my distress is to get himself, shuddering with distaste, as far away from me as he can until it’s all over and I have showered.

My cover with Pete, that of someone charmed by the cat, has been blown; I am pretty certain he is onto me and now knows I am not a fan of his precious. Too bad, as I have now missed an opportunity to get rid of her; he will now watch my every move, a situation that will prove delightful to Amisi and potentially very harmful to Pete’s and my relationship.

What to do, Uma? I find I cannot bear the thought of my marriage breaking up over a cat. There would be something too humiliating about the scenario – me, head bowed in defeat, trudging away through the snow and the darkening day (I am going to try to last until winter, at least; I am not giving up my man without a fight) suitcase in one hand, Kleenex in the other, while Pete and Amisi watch from the open doorway.

They are saddened that the price of their love has come at a cost to me, but what can they do? There can be no denying of the feeling that has grown between them. The golden warmth of the light inside the house reflects the happiness they have found together.

Wait! That golden glow is fire! The love nest has in the space of moments become a towering inferno forcing them to flee immediately, leaving everything Pete owns behind to be incinerated. Gone are his fishing rods and his favourite lucky lures. His guns melt. The new 60” TV is a puddle of ruined components. His truck, parked close to the trailer, explodes.

They manage to escape with their lives, though Amisi’s glorious fur was scorched to the skin, never to grow again, and her blue eyes inexplicably turned shit brown, probably from stress. She developed nervous tics, and a high-pitched yowl. She stopped regarding Pete as a hero and began to treat him with contempt.

Here the fantasy stops; I am obviously in danger of losing my grip over this situation.

I await your words of wisdom.



Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.