I’m trying desperately to use Google to locate a man known only by the name of "Al, the Detached Cat Hater." Before anyone thinks I’ve finally lost my marbles, let me explain.
The last time Tom and I went on an extended vacation, our cat Hobie, in her anger at being left in the care of a stranger, decided to punish us for abandoning her. Cats have very few tools at their disposal (no knives, no explosives, no firearms, and no chemicals). So without going into the graphic details, we had a major clean-up job to do when we arrived home.
For a few weeks after we got home, Hobie, who is a world-class expert at carrying a grudge, continued to use her natural arsenal to get even: ‘You left me,’ she meowed angrily, deliberately ignoring the litter box, ‘and you shall continue to pay.’
Even when she’s not angry, Hobie is just naturally antisocial to guests, and she has a nasty habit of coughing up hairballs in the middle of the living room carpet. Once she marked all the bathroom rugs in the guest bathroom after non-family company left, just because the bath mats smelled like strangers’ feet and she wanted to show her displeasure at their visit. It’s her house and she doesn’t want to share.
In August, Tom and I are leaving on another vacation to celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Clouding the anticipation of two sun-filled weeks in Italy and Spain are fears of what Hobie will do to the house while we are gone.
“So, get rid of her,” I can hear everyone snapping impatiently. “Just get rid of the cat.” But getting rid of a family pet that we’ve had for over ten years isn’t that simple. It’s true that she looks like a fur-covered Jabba the Hutt, but she’s been a part of the family since the girls picked her out in the pet store back in 1997. I love that lazy old bag of blubber.
The answer to our problem just might be Al, the Detached Cat Hater. I know he’s out there somewhere because Ann Lamott says in her book, Bird by Bird, “I had a friend named Al who every so often took other people’s cats to the pound to be put down, because his friends couldn’t bear to do it themselves. They were cats, who were, for one reason or another, like sickness or incontinence, a blight on the landscape. He [Al] didn’t care one way or the other about cats. He had an imaginary company, whose business was having cats put to sleep, whose slogan was ‘The pussy must pay.’”
So as we plan for our long-awaited anniversary trip in August, in the back of my mind is a nagging fear that the next time we leave, a furious Hobie will burn down the house or worse. Dear sweet Hobie—she’s lived with us for over ten years and could easily live another ten. Or fifteen, God forbid (surely not twenty).
Does anyone out there know the unlisted number for Al, the Detached Cat Hater? (This must be what it feels like to hire a hit man.)