When I am old and alone and have given up, I will buy a cat. I reckon this will be exactly like marriage.
I am a cat person,1 but I am allergic to them. Even being in the same house as a cat gives me headaches, a gushing nose, dry eyes and itchy skin. I will now give you, the reader ten minutes to make all the jokes you want to around the word ‘pussy’.
When I am about thirty-five, I will properly give up on women and devote myself to a cat. I will call my cat Bert, even if he is a girl. In fact, especially if he’s a girl. I will sing to him and feed him milk and take photos of him and post them on the internet with grammatically incorrect captions and when the World Cup is on I will dress him in a cat football kit and talk to him as if I am Mark Lawrenson and he is Gary Linekar. It will be ace.
But my cat will be more than a companion; it will fill the girl-shaped hole in my life and bring me happiness and affection, simply because that is what it does. It won’t spurn my advances and will accept me for who I am (a lonely, miserable, hypo-allergenic cat-man) because it doesn’t know any better. It will be so easy it will almost be worth the small fortune in anti-histamines.
But there’s more. I reckon my relationship with my cat will be similar to that of a stereotypical married couple. Like a wife, I will never understand what my cat is thinking. There will be times when I will smush it to my face and make silly noises, and I will assume it loves me, when actually it is about to scratch my eyes out and bury them in the garden/window box/car park/litter tray. I will have to buy my cat’s love, not through a deep, meaningful connection, but by supplying it with gaudy trinkets and fuzzy mice with jingly bells in them. My cat will give me presents, but in a way that shows it was mainly thinking of itself. Instead of novelty socks or a coveted ‘World’s Best Husband’ mug, I will receive dead animals, and I will pretend they are lovely. The relationship between my cat and I will of course be sexless, and will thus be exactly like marriage. This is definitely true because every stand-up comedian says it is.
My friends won’t invite me to dinner parties as it will only be awkward, reducing all meaningful contact to a one-sided conversation with something that doesn’t understand words. I will be utterly dependent on my cat for affection, companionship and validation of my existence, but I will also resent its selfish nature and the fact that being near it makes me want to claw my own skin off. Likewise, my cat will depend upon me for attention, sustenance and to operate equipment that requires opposable thumbs, a bit like a wife, and will also begrudge me for disturbing it, bothering it, and generally just being there. This heady mix of repulsive neediness and barely-hidden hostility will my personal equivalent of a marriage gone sour.
Furthermore, despite giving my cat the best cat food I can afford, I know that when I go to work, my cat will slip out and satisfy its needs for food with a neighbor. We will both be aware of this betrayal of trust, but neither of us will ever bring it up, for fear of losing whatever shreds of a relationship we have left. Instead, we will suffer in silence; choosing instead to live in denial, and also because cats can’t talk. I will be deeply hurt, and my cat will get tubby, and I will hug it and tell it not to leave me, and then I will sneeze loads.
Eventually, my cat will die. Despite having grown to despise the fluffy bastard, I will be distraught. I will mourn it’s passing and bury it in the garden next to where I think my eyeballs are, unless the cat got smushed by an articulated lorry, in which case I will peel it off the road and fling it into a skip like a frisbee.
In time, I will get over my companion’s death and consider moving on. I will take stock at my life with cats, and realise it has been too painful to try again, give up on felines and buy a dog.
Here’s a question for you: how many cats is too many cats?
1 In that I like them, not that I’m a hideous crossbreed. Although that is how Andrew Lloyd-Webber came up with Cats. Biological experiments gone wrong, in musical form. He’s bad, I tell you…