[Note: I’m trying to avoid headers referring to Christmas ‘going to the dogs’ or anything involving a combination of ‘Santa’ and ‘Paws.’ But it’s sooooo hard!]
Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy. It’s easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America’s favorite pet. People like pets to possess the same qualities they do. Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance), that it’s often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.” P.J. O’Rourke, Modern Manners, 1983
Before I got married, I always had cats. I just thought of them as something you kept around the place, like the oven or your roommate’s boyfriend. The cats’ main functions were to keep feet warm in winter, to knock things off tables, and to throw up. (“Gosh, I’d LOVE to go with you to the all-night Albanian Film Festival, but my cat knocked that cheap bouquet you gave me onto the floor, drank the water with all that preservative meant to make your little carnations last longer, and now she’s really sick.”
My cats excelled at these skills. Puff, our college apartment cat, was a command vomiter. If you did anything to offend him—petting him, not petting him, breathing on a Tuesday, etc.—you’d find a hairball (or worse) on your pillow. Then there was our post-college apartment cat, Buster, who was deaf, epileptic, and given to spending long stretches of time with her head up a lampshade. My roommate’s boyfriend was convinced the cat was faking deafness, because if you even started to open a can of tuna, she would be at your feet. He tried sneaking up on Buster in the middle of the night and banging some pan lids together above her head. The cat didn’t flinch, but we did when the police summoned by the neighbors arrived. We never again questioned Buster’s loss of hearing, or my roommate’s loss of her soon-to-be ex.
And in fact, it really doesn’t matter if your cat is deaf or not. No cat comes when you call it. I remember a neighbor who inherited a cat with wanderlust and an unfortunate name. I can still see her standing on the back porch of her South Side Chicago apartment screaming, “Cocaine, Cocaine, COOOO-CAINE! The cat never responded, but the police did.
I did finally figure out how to call my cats. I’d open a can of tuna and seductively croon, “Tuna Juice!” They’d come running, although I’m sure the neighbors wondered why I couldn’t have named them Muffin or Fluffy. But my days as a cat owner came to a tragic end when my son proved allergic to the cat du jour. We found a good home for her, but my daughters thought I’d gotten rid of the wrong member of the family. They took to standing next to their brother, sneezing violently and telling me we had to send him to live on the farm.
Now that the holiday season is coming up, I especially miss the cats. Getting presents for some people is not easy, but the cats were always perfectly content with new catnip mice they could kill repeatedly and then shred. Simple pleasures.
But if Santa needs help with pet gift ideas, I’d say he won’t have any trouble filling Puff’s (custom hand-knitted fairisle monogrammed £60/$77) stockings.
If your personal goals include becoming a professional cat lady and you’ve already bought the starter kit——you might be interested in a craft tailored to your needs.
But no cat gift, no matter what the cost, will make your cat look stupid. Puff is simply not going to tolerate the inflatable unicorn horn, reindeer antlers, or even Santa hat. Those presents are for dogs.
Ugly Christmas sweater? Dogs don’t even notice they’re wearing them.Humiliating holiday costume? Give Barkley a dog treat and you’re on!
Purse dog carrier? Sure, why not. Of course, you can put Barkley in Prada, but he’ll be just as happy in Ikea. At least that’s what New Yorkers who want to travel with their dogs despite subway policy seem to think.
Then there are the baby-carrier-like pouches which allow you to carry your dog strapped to your front in a position which is only natural to dogs in X-rated doggie magazines. My dog Peri would not mind if you picked her up in such a position, as long as you don’t mind if she removes some of your limbs and rearranges your face.