Our Little Phoebe

Typically, I only like cats in Chinese food. I know, I won't win friends by saying that, but it is what is. For all those that don't know they're ordering Kitty Lo Mein when they head to the corner Chinese joint, I hope I broke this news to you gently. Have you tried the Pigeon Fried Rice?

In Anatomy class in college, while some girls whimpered about the loss of poor, pitiful Whiskers when we dissected cats for muscle study, I protested the waste of formaldehyde. I hated Tom of Tom and Jerry with a fervor so intense, I dreamed about his bloody demise. I dream of a cat holocaust. I often lie to people who don't know better and tell them I'm allergic, so that they won't see that my only allergic reaction is sneezes rooted in anger, and the hives that only violent disgust can cause. This goes pretty deep.

But lately, I've been trying to figure out where this nearly irrational hatred of cats came from. I have had exactly 2 cats in my lifetime make it past the machete-guarded gates of my cat-hating soul. Those two cats I liked enough to believe they were part dog, and that was how they'd won my favor. Still, even then, I was happy to leave them with their rightful owners after visiting with them. But what lies in this twisted little mind of mine that makes me hate cats so easily and gracefully? It's like a hate ballet in my mind, an overture to the destruction of felines.

I figured it out a few minutes ago though. It was Phoebe. I never liked her. We'd had a doberman named Cowboy that my little brother was terrified of, and by which my brother swore he'd been attacked. So my mom made the short-sighted decision to get rid of the dog that my Dad and I loved. I really wanted a replacement dog, and my mother thought a weird little cat would be a great substitute. She was very wrong about that. I remember going to get this animal from a woman who was crying. I had to be about 6 maybe 7 years old. The cat ate out of dishes fancier than I'd ever seen, let alone eaten out of, but I thought that's how cats rolled. What did I know? I was 7. The woman wore glasses, similar to mine, and I wondered if I cried that much would I be able to see out of them. I wondered if she could see out of them. I didn't get everything that this woman and my mother were saying, but from what I understood, this woman did not want to give up her adult cat, but had no choice. My mom kept saying things about what a great home Phoebe would be going to. How it would teach us kids responsibility to have a pet again, and how happy she was to have been the one this woman chose. She made lots of promises of love and nurturing, things like that, maybe she even brought Jesus into it. Who knows?

As it turns out, my mother found out she hated cats shortly after Phoebe arrived. I think part of the problem, was that Phoebe's expectations were just a little too high. Phoebe needed to face the fact that she was coming to a home full of minorities, and that ethnic people just tend not to get down like her previous owner did. In her last abode, Phoebe ate from China dishes and slept on something very soft...maybe cashmere? Well at our house, she was to count her blessings to even be allowed indoors. My mom was clear on the fact that she did not want her house to become a zoo, nor smell like an animal lived there, so her best solution was to keep that animal as remote from our living space as possible. Phoebe never liked me. I could tell. All the animals we'd ever had adored me, but there was something calculating about Phoebe, and she was ever plotting against me. I had formed quick and sturdy alliances with all of our previous pets including the fish, but Phoebe, she was definitely not on team SJ, and I knew it. I kept my eye on her. I didn't even flinch when, as usual, my mother had randomly declared that she'd had enough! of the animal, and was taking it to the pound. Now everyone knows that cats aren't adopted, they're drowned. A normal child would cry about this, instead I told the cat to her face that I won. She looked me right in the eye and cooked up a scheme right then and there.

She kept giving me the consistent evil eye right up until the day my mom "took her to be adopted." Then she came back. In my dreams, that cat tried to kill me at least 10 times. She showed up at my elementary school, in my back yard, at the park where I played everyday. In every dream she was bloody, and she somehow had learned to laugh. I never forgave her for her repeated dream attempts on my life, and for that reason I can't forgive her family yet either.

No animals were harmed in the writing of this hub.  Please do not report me to PETA.

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