Having been raised with cats, I’ve always found something comforting about their presence at night. Their purrs, warmth, and even the rhythmic shaking of the bed while they bathe has always been an experience that would put me to sleep. Their alertness was also a comfort as I was sure they would know before I when the creatures residing under my bed began to stir. I was young and naïve then and hadn’t yet come to the understanding that the real monsters are in my head rather than under my bed.
It seems odd that I could find comfort in these deranged little spawn of perdition. Comfort from an animal species I have seen eat the faces off of their kills? Creatures I have watched flay the skin off of dead things with nothing more than their tongues? You do know that the Latin for domestic cat is faciem comedenti? This is a direct translation to face eater.
I mentioned all that to preface what will go down in the Johns house chronicles as my greatest tribulation to date. Feeling sorry for my daughter’s cat that she heartlessly abandoned upon moving out, I decided I would allow the little ball of orange hell to sleep in the same room as I. She named him Chaucer though I cannot fathom how an English major can so badly maul the spelling of Satan.
It all began innocently enough. He lay there purring and kneading contentedly in what I now understand to be a smoke and mirrors tactic designed to lull me into a false sense of security. He then crawled up on the pillow and draped himself across the top of my head. Ok. We’re still ok here. He then began to gently wash my hair. Not freaked out yet, but a little grossed out so I moved him. At this point the demon spawned faciem comedenti discarded all false pretenses and frantically latched on while making an equally frenzied attempt to reach my coronal suture with a tongue I am sure is tungsten plated and honed to a surgical edge. Upon an emergency extraction of this auburn hued biological machination of dread from my traumatized dome and screaming something like “The power of Christ compels you” as he landed gently on the other side of the room, we eyeballed one another for a brief moment. Side note: Cats do not demonstrate a flat trajectory which is probably why they haven’t been weaponized. It would seem that his attempt at flaying my mind like some fictional dungeons and dragons creature worked up a thirst and he walked away and spent considerable time at his water bowl. Feeling restless but exhausted, I drifted off into a fitful sleep from which I was frequently roused by the faintest of sounds. I know now how our ancestors felt when living in proximity to big cats.
What truly startled me to full alertness was a disturbing hush. I found that my feline nemesis was no longer perching innocently on the peak of furniture overturned in our previous melee. A quick check of myself revealed no open wounds. As I leaned over the edge of the bed, I caught sight of my foe. He was in the zone: ears lowered so as not to protrude over the edge of the bed, eyes fully dilated, tail whipping silently. The highest point of his body was his shoulder blades. I waited for the right moment. Timing would be everything. Then there it was. His tell. Cerberus’s feline companion’s butt wiggled and I sprang into action. As he launched all eight pounds of demented fury at my as yet unopened skull, I lashed out with the only weapon at hand: a pillow. He fought this pillow the rest of the night, granting me a pittance of sleep. I’m watching you, beast.