Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a cheap horror movie. There aren't any serial killers back from the grave, creatures awakening after a hundred-year slumber (we have a toddler -- nothing within a mile and a half gets to sleep that long), or weirdos in sports gear. ("Hockey mask? Yeah right, buddy. All that says to me is that as long as I refuse to sign a contract, I can count on the fact that you won't do anything at all.") There are just cats... and water.
I don't know if it's because cats are made of oil, or if under all that fur they are 90% toilet paper, but cats and water simply do not mix. And for some reason, I'm the one who always ends up getting scared.
Case in point: laundry day. I go to pick up a basket of freshly dried clothes and out explodes a dripping wet cat, scaring me so badly I am grateful I have already done a load of shorts. I shriek first in surprise, then in rage. Drying the drenched kitty and examining the deck of the pool leads me to deduce the following about the cat who regularly awakens us in the middle of the night by falling off the bed: Fourmyle, basking on the warm concrete beside the pool, began rol-ll-ling, rol-ll-ling... splash!
The last time a cat fell in the pool, it made me scream, too. I was watching X-Files with the lights out, when suddenly there was a hissing sound from the backyard, followed almost immediately by a SPLASH! The dog went nuts, making me yelp and spill my popcorn. Monsters, aliens, serial killers in the back yard! Omigod! I let the dog out and he veered not for the pool, but for the bushes at the edge of the patio. The sprinklers were on, causing the soft hissing noise. A wet trail led from where the dog was barking back to the lip of the pool. Peering into the bushes, I caught sight of our cat, Beau, an angry, sullen and totally saturated mess. Suddenly all became clear. Beau had been strolling along the pool deck in the moonlight, when the sprinklers came on, startling him. "ICK, WET!!" I'm sure he thought with disgust, leaping back... right into the pool.
I thought it was funny. Beau didn't. X-Files was long over before he forgave me for laughing at him enough to come inside and let me dry him off.
Of course Fourmyle is the cat that scared us awake in the middle of the night when he got his head stuck in a pickle jar we had been using for a drinking glass. And I've had one or two cats make me shriek with laughter by falling in the toilet. But we also had a little gray kitten named Dremel, once upon a time, who was perfect in every way except that he nearly killed both my husband and I by reenacting a scene from Psycho.
John and I were chatting in the shower after work when all of a sudden, what we both imagined to be a big, gloved hand appeared at the top of the shower curtain and yanked it violently aside. I screamed as John shouted and spun, pushing me behind him to protect me. The curtain came down and there was a slippery but fierce struggle. I heard John screech in pain, I screeched in fear, then I realized there was a cat screeching in protest as well.
When the water had been shut off, the soap wiped from our eyes, and the bleeding staunched from our many claw wounds, we saw that Dremel, being fresh out of kittenhood and about as bright as a bacon bit, had heard our voices behind the shower curtain and decided that jumping up onto the rod would be a good idea.
It was not. Because A.) he missed and only managed to hook one foot over the rod, B.) shower curtain rods are not designed to hold ten pounds of cat launched across the room from the back of the toilet, and C.) it was wet on the other side.
John and I came away from the incident with several new piercings (back before they were cool) and I believe Dremel considered that day the end of his kittenhood. But it all just goes to prove that cats and water are a hazardous combination.
Comments and cat-sized water wings to Alex.Queen@gmail.com
This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.