My family has a cat problem. I don't really understand it at all, but we had four cats throughout my childhood, and none of them lived to be older than five, and all had really perplexing personal problems. The first one, Sammy, was when I was an infant, and from what I understand he was the most normal. He hated everyone besides my dad, and permanently lived beneath their bed. I think he had trouble with females because my mom had gone into their marriage by making the ultimatum that the cat had to go or she would. I am still not sure how that was resolved, as the cat and my mother both remained. As the aftermath of that one, (which I believe involves an incident where my mom ran around clanking pans to irritate the cat,) he hated all females. Now when I say it permanently lived beneath the bed, I do mean permanently, as they even had to feed him under there, and I even think the litter box was stored down there too. He just wasn't a social little buddy. Eventually he passed on for no particular reason and the most upset person was my mother, as she learned that she did in fact love Sammy. I question whether she just suffered from residual guilt of traumatizing the poor animal.
Next came Nelly, which was the first of the strays. Nelly was a sweet little Calico kitty, a breed that for some reason my mother decided she had an obsession with. She deemed black cats "nasty" and "common" and thought that Nelly was given to us by God as a replacement for her beloved Samuel. I actually have no idea if Sammy's real name was Samuel. Nelly was a stray that walked up off the street, and she was very skittish. I'm not sure whether she really knew we were her owners, because she only came in the house to eat, and otherwise could only be found out in the backyard. I believed she was my cat however, and used to run around as an infant pulling young Nelly's tail. She met with a truly tragic end when the neighbor's rottweiler named Butchy broke in through our fence and strangled Nelly to death beneath his jaws of death. I found the remnants of Nelly's carcass in our backyard as a kindergartner.
I think the dramatic death of Nelly was shocking to us all, but because I wouldn't stop crying my mom felt obligated to get a new cat, as she was tired of hearing about it. This time there were no convenient strays wandering down Nottoway Drive, so instead my mom and I drove to the pet store in the mall and picked out a kitten from the display. I was gifted the honor of naming this one, which is how it became known as Fluffy. I don't know why that was permitted. Fluffy was a holy terror of a cat. He had this problem where he liked to climb trees and then would get stuck up in them and couldn't get down. You see, Fluffy was twenty pounds overweight. We always blamed all the fluff, but in reality he was just obese. The fire department had to be summoned on at least three separate occasions to extract Fluffy from the thirty foot tall trees. As an obese cat, he had a very grumpy disposition when it came to food, and when no one would feed him, he would hide out in this dark hallway and wait until someone came around the corner, and viciously sink his claws into your leg. This happened to me enough times that I only would pet Fluffy with long pants on, because that way the claw marks didn't cut through to the skin. One blustery Valentine's Day morning, the household was awoken to a noise that sound curiously like a sea lion being beat up. It was a lot of really dramatic meowing, as if Fluffy had decided to become a theater cat and was auditioning for the most histrionic role in the kitty production of Hamlet. I was horrified, and spent the day at school crying, wondering what was wrong with Fluffy. The truth was he had a defective heart, which was a product of his mall pet store pedigree, as he was one of those weird hick breeds of cats that was probably from cousin cats, and as a result his heart was too small and he was having a heart attack at age three. He had to be put down that evening at an emergency vet clinic forty minutes from our house. It has gone down in history that as the vet euthanized him, he was reported to have said, "This is one damn fluffy cat." Yes, yes he was.
Fluffy's death was particularly dramatic due to the abrupt end, but there was actually two cats in our life at the point of his death. (Can we just point out that I named a boy cat "Fluffy?" No wonder he had issues.) The second of the strays had limped into our lives about a year before good ole Fluffers died. This one was a black and white patched cat with a torn ear. Mother thought it was cute enough, and she was mostly a sucker for strays. My dad's number one rule was "Do not feed the cats that wander down Nottoway Drive" and for some reason we all ignored that rule with Mickey. He was an abandoned cat, and he was quite down on his luck when he entered our lives. He reached the peak of his Maslow's hierarchy of needs with my family however, because aside from dealing with our pesky golden retriever puppy, Mickey was king. Mickey was sort of frightening. He was nocturnal, and actually slept the entire day, but randomly I would wake up in the middle of the night and find his kitty whiskers inches from my nose. One time I thought he was trying to eat me. There was this other awkward issue too where he decided he liked our neighbors more than us, (probably about our dog) and he wouldn't ever come home. This was very upsetting to me, and I would run around the yard with the cat food container, shaking it in the hopes he would come running from those meanie cat snatchers house. When I would find him outside I would drag him home by his tail to punish him. When we made a cross country move, Mickey came along. At first it seemed like he was adapting well, but he was used to having free reign to run around outside, and that kind of freedom comes at a price. We kept him in the house indefinitely until the day he dragged an entire bag of hot dog buns off the counter and ate them all, at which point my dad screamed something about he didn't care what happened to the cat, and Mickey was then allowed to go outside. Unfortunately, his free soul didn't get to wander in peace, as one morning we woke up to a voicemail from a neighbor saying they had our bloody cat carcass in their yard, and would we like it back? With that the cat dynasty ended, as my dad resolved never again would my family own another. "Menacing creatures" and "unloveable"were words that crept up a lot in that conversation.
This is what has led me to be a crazy cat lady, forced to take my selfies with the cute fluffyness of other people's cats, as I will never have my own.