WARM AND FLUFFY

I honestly did not know the cat was in the dryer when I turned it on. That simple mistake could have cost the cat its life. It almost cost me mine.

Our daughter is married with a family of her own, so it is just me and my wife now; however, we share our home with an unbelievably cute little terrier named Zoey – and the cat. Three of us are very happy with this arrangement; but the cat is the exception. She really has no use for the rest of us. We are simply there to do her bidding – no matter what time of day or night that might be.

It seems that our entire lives are built around the completely selfish demands of the cat. Even our yard has been compromised so that she has an area where she can go outside and terrorize small birds, mice, and an occasional baby snake. She loves being outside, and she will cry for hours to be let out so that she can kill and maim as much of the animal kingdom as she can reach.

Because of her insatiable lust for animal flesh, the cat is overweight. I mean overweight in the sense that her belly is so big it sways back and forth when she tries to run affecting her balance. My wife leaves food down for her 24/7. I should be so lucky.

In fact, everything about the cat’s life is better than mine. The cat is asleep when we get up in the morning and asleep in the same spot when we go to bed. She never has a stressful day. The cat does absolutely nothing to earn her keep. The food just miraculously appears to fill her ever-growing stomach.

Every day my wife brushes the finicky feline while telling her how much she loves her and what a good kitty she is. The cat is given annoying toys to amuse herself with, and she is allowed to sleep in places that I would be killed for going near. “Stay away from Grandma’s curio cabinet, you’ll scratch it!”

I don’t even know what a curio cabinet is, (I think it’s the hideous thing over in the corner) and I certainly have no interest in going near one but being regaled with such helpful reminders is all a part of married life.

It is difficult to convey how deeply my wife loves the cat. Let me just say that if the cat and I were both in the street and my wife was heading our direction in a car – and she had to swerve to miss one of us – I would be eating a bumper. But, thankfully, I’d be able to rest easy knowing that the cat was safe.

At all times the cat is the prime consideration of our lives. Our schedule is set so that the obese terror of the back yard is always happy. We can only take short overnight trips so that we can rush home and care for the cat. (Personally, I don’t think she cares whether we are there or not. As long as there are food, water, and a curio cabinet to sleep on for 23 hours a day she’s content.) But my wife is convinced that every aspect of our lives should be considered within the context of how it affects the cat’s desperate need for maximum comfort at all times.

And speaking of comfort, my wife is a quilter. It is her passion, and she has an amazing ability to create beautiful quilts that are so intricate and complicated that I can’t even begin to understand how she does it. That being said, I learned many years ago not to drop down next to her on the couch when she is quilting because invariably, I would sit down on something warm and squishy that would screech loud enough to stop your heart and then shoot across the room in a blur. The cat loves to sleep under the quilts as my wife is working on them.

After several episodes of near cardiac arrest and being told, “Not to hurt the kitty!”I learned to sit safely in a torturous pain-inducing chair across the room so that the cat would be safe, warm, and comfortable at all times.

Which brings me to the dryer.

One day I was helping out with the laundry. It is something I do to ease the workload for my wife and to keep from hearing the ever -growing list of my failures as a spouse. She had washed one of the quilts she had finished. I took it out of the washer and put it into the dryer, however, I wasn’t sure what setting to use. She had spent days on this quilt, and I didn’t want to be the one to shrink down to the size of a handkerchief.

I left the dryer door open for about 10 seconds while I stuck my head around the corner and asked my wife about the appropriate setting. In that brief interval of time, the cat jumped into the dryer. I received the necessary instructions regarding the settings, along with a useful reminder to be careful because “You know how you are.”- and of course, I know. After forty-six years of marriage, it is well documented how I am. Anyway, I turned around, closed the door, hit the start button and stepped over to the washer to do another load.

After a couple of seconds, I began to hear an odd thumping noise coming from inside the dryer. I started to check to see what it was, but then I realized it was probably a pair of my wife’s sneakers that she had thrown in there. I turned back to the washer.

After another 10 or 15 seconds of solid thumping, I suddenly heard a faint sound that made my blood run cold. I froze in panic as I distinctly heard a tiny “meow”. I didn’t want to believe it. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe because I realized my life was about to come to an unfortunate conclusion.

As I spun around and opened the dryer door I heard my wife sprinting down the hallway towards the laundry room. How could she have possibly heard such a faint muffled sound? It didn’t matter. She burst in just as I reached for the cat.

At this point, it is impossible to relate exactly what happened during the unpleasant minutes that followed. The charge was firmly made that I had purposely tried to kill the cat. (Not true. Although that was a fantasy I frequently entertained, using the dryer would not have been my method of choice.)

It was also pointed out that the cat was irreparably harmed and would never be the same. (Not true. The brief ride in the dryer did not have any discernible effect on her appetite or on her ability to sleep anywhere at any time. Those are important facts because they are her two chief activities.)

And, finally, it was pointed out to me, in no uncertain terms, that I was a careless, thoughtless monster. (Perhaps that is true, but since I’d heard that colorful phrase many times before it was beginning to lose a lot of its sting.)

The important thing to understand is that the cat was fine. My life had been in far more danger than hers. While it is true that, when placed on the floor, she staggered around for a minute like a drunken sailor on shore leave, the cat soon recovered her equilibrium and headed straight for the curio cabinet. On the plus side, she did come out of the dryer warm and fluffy.

So…in my house we have reached a truce. I’m not going anywhere and, unfortunately, neither is the cat. With that in mind, she and I have agreed to cohabitate while we conveniently ignore the existence of the other. This is an arrangement that, of course, favors the cat.

While she lives a blissful life of peace and tranquility, I am required to provide a nonstop supply of disgusting smelling cat food that she can stuff into her swelling belly during those brief moments when she awakens from her lifelong slumber induced coma. I must sit in painfully uncomfortable chairs while she snuggles up on the couch under a warm quilt. And I am to remain a prisoner that can never leave home for more than 36 hours for fear that the cat will become lonely and desire human companionship.

To say that I can barely tolerate sharing the same roof with this creature is quite an understatement – and I didn’t even mention the horror of the litter box……….

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