I’m pretty sure it was Schrödinger who posited that the attractiveness to your cat of any food dropped on the floor is directly proportional to that food’s level of toxicity to your cat. Our cats are all on special diets now because in cat-years they are all in their 100’s. That means most foods we drop are toxic to them.
All three of our cats were young when we got them. One from the shelter, one from our Vet’s rescue adoption program, and one literally off the street. We had always understood that “rescue cat” referred to our having saved them from certain death in the shelter. In due time we came to understand that “rescue” refers to our single-handedly keeping the specialty cat food company out of bankruptcy. Every time we drop a piece of human-food on the floor, the Hills Science Diet company stock splits.
So today when I dropped a slice of pepperoni on the floor there was some urgency to retrieve it. I figure pepperoni must be really toxic to Mr. Jinx because he shimmered into existence just as the pepperoni hit the floor. It was as though he had been in the transporter room a moment earlier saying “beam me down Scruffy, and if you can manage it make me materialize with the pepperoni already inside my mouth.” That’s pretty much what happened, too. Scruffy is one helluva Chief Engineer.
Mr. Jinx must have anticipated my reaction because he bolted immediately and I took off after him in high-speed pursuit. The good news was that as long as he kept moving he couldn’t eat the pepperoni. The bad news is he’s a cat and even though he’s old he can keep moving pretty well and can get into places I can’t. Like under the bed.
Being a cat he doesn’t know that a broomstick or PCV pipe next to each bed in the house are a bit unusual or why he needs to worry about them. This is exactly why we have those items next to the beds. Well, normally they are there for the times when the cats see the nail clipper but the result is the same. It’s cat extraction time either way.
Sidebar: We had some work done in the master bathroom last month. Somewhere there’s a plumber wondering why we have an unattached broomstick next to the bed, but that’s a blog post for another day.
In one fluid motion I grabbed the broomstick and slid down next to the bed like a ninja taking home plate in the World Series. The cat never had a chance but he didn’t drop the pepperoni as he headed for the stairs to begin another lap. I followed him down the hall, closing doors along the way. This isn’t my first cat rodeo. He stopped on the landing to see if I was ready to give up yet and the pepperoni hung out of his mouth like a kitty-sized Frisbee. I was tempted to laugh until I remembered that any hesitation on my part could kill him. Or worse, not kill him and drain my retirement fund instead. I started back down the stairs and he took off again at full speed.
Had you been watching from a comfortable vantage point, I expect it would have looked a lot like a scene out of Keystone Cops. The cat darting from room to room, in and out of doorways, up and down the stairs. Me close on his heels, arms extended forward, occasionally tripping and falling on my face. If we had motion-sensing web cams I could post the video and rack up millions of YouTube hits. Unfortunately, the only motion-sensing things we have are cats.
Not only is Mr. Jinx over 100 in kitty-years, he’s also about 200 in kitty-pounds. His age and rotundity finally caught up with him, as did I when he stopped in our front foyer to wolf down the pepperoni. Pouncing, I pinned him to the ground with one hand on the back of his neck and grabbed his mouth with the other. He immediately started flailing his claws wildly, hissing, and engaging full-on Tasmanian Devil Mode. As shape-shifters go, werewolves get all the recognition but cats are the masters. They go from cute and cuddly to Lovecraftian demon spawn of Hell in the blink of an eye. All cats have this ability and among cats Mr. Jinx is revered for it. Cathulu manifested before my eyes.
In desperation I dropped to the ground, put most of his body in a scissor hold between my legs, put his neck in the crook of one of my elbows to block the claws, and stretched him out like a fat, furry, cat-shaped rubber band. With my one free hand I shoved a finger between his teeth like a crow-bar trying to wedge his mouth open. I always knew that one day I’d put my high-school wrestling skills to good use. I’ll have to remember to track down my coach and thank him.
Even after immobilizing him in a Full Tabby hold, Mr. Jinx managed to hang tenaciously onto that damned pepperoni slice. (I just invented the Full Tabby hold and am copyrighting the name, by the way. If I can’t make my fortune on YouTube then I’ll make it on the Discovery Channel.) Mr. Jinx was yowling loud enough to activate the Cat Emergency Broadcast Network for three neighborhoods in every direction and trying his best to sever my finger at the second knuckle when my wife walked in the front door. Mr. Jinx and I both froze there on the floor of the foyer and looked up at her.
“What in God’s name are you doing to the cat?”
“Uhhhh…nuthin” I replied, pocketing the slice of pepperoni I’d retrieved out of Mr. Jinx’s now-gaping mouth.
We got up and I headed back to the kitchen to finish making lunch. Mr. Jinx headed the toward the living room. We both walked casually away in opposite directions saying “I meant to do that” almost in unison. He was more convincing, I thought. He’s had more practice with that.
I rounded the corner to find Oscar on the kitchen counter, buried up to his shoulders with his entire head and both front paws in the Pepperoni bag. He jerked his head out of the bag, looked at me and froze like a pepperoni-colored deer in the headlights. His normally black and white face was now black and sort of reddish orange. How much of that was from pepperoni stains and how much from embarrassment was hard to tell. He resumed chewing a pepperoni slice, his eyes remaining locked on mine like two heat-seeking missiles. Another pepperoni slice hung off his neck where it had caught in his collar.
“Honey,” I called back to my wife without breaking eye contact.
“Call the broker. Tell him to put all of our available reserves into Hills Science Diet. Today. Now.”
With that, Oscar grabbed another slice and took off up the stairs.