The title of this piece refers to what my house has become. My wife, a truly gorgeous and lovely creature, came to our relationship with a shocking overabundance of cats. Two, actually, which is precisely two more than anyone needs. Cats, which were spawned from Satan's left testicle (the "Doom Nut"), are interesting creatures. They neither require, nor give, love. Actually, they need nothing at all from humans. Any animal that lives in your house, but would be completely fine if exiled to the streets, does not, and will never, give a fuck about you. Every cat worth its nip can thrive outdoors hunting its own food and shitting wherever children play or old people garden. Cats are willingly kept house pets. If they really wanted out, they'd get out. But they are inherently lazy creatures (like Satan) and life's just too easy on the inside. They can take a dump in cushy, store-bought sand; eat food they didn't have to stalk, wound, then callously toy with for an hour; and sleep wherever their highly potent narcolepsy strikes. Cats spend the vast majority of their time keeled over in a coma that looks like it would be pretty refreshing, given the obvious depth of their slumber. However, upon awakening, they generally take one disinterested look around the room - or tub, or closet, or wherever the balls they happen to be - and pass right back out like Charlie Sheen in rehab.
On the other hand, when they are awake, they can be quite entertaining. It's a very specific, uncomfortable form of entertainment, though. Everyone has that one friend that is obviously insane. He's always the one who drinks too much, smokes too much or snorts too much and then generates the stories that the normal people tell later. We've all got one and if you're racking your brain and scrolling through your Contacts list but can't for the life of you figure out who it is, it's you. All of your friends reading this are nodding and chuckling to themselves going "Yeah. That's Dave."
Cats are the pet version of your psycho friend. You can be sitting on the couch with your cat, blandly passing the time watching TV, and everything seems fine. No one else is home, the place is perfectly peaceful and quiet and the cat actually appears to be dead. No, wait. It's sides are moving. The indolent motherfucker is just sleeping again. Suddenly, reacting to no discernible stimulus whatsoever, the cat's head pops up and its ears begin swiveling. Let me reiterate that there is absolutely NOTHING going on. Despite that, all vestiges of feline somnolence are gone. The cat is wired and its eyes gleam with a feverish, horribly malevolent intelligence. Before you can even hit the MUTE button, the animal vanishes from the couch, its claws tearing through the pricey Naugahyde. It sprints the length of the room and comes to a dead stop with its face exactly one inch from the wall. It slowly hunkers down into the attack position, its tail switching back and forth like the slow pendulum of fate.
Don't even bother getting up at this point to go see what it's looking at. I can tell you from experience there's nothing there. There's never anything there. Unless cats can see at the molecular level, whichever portion of the wall they're so fascinated with looks exactly like the rest of the wall that they're pointedly ignoring. I've even gone around the corner into the room on the other side of the wall just in case that bastard has x-ray vision. Still nothing.
Then there's the night terrors. Much like your crazy friend, you can never count a cat out. Remember all those times you saw the guy drink himself into an alcohol-poisoned slumber? While he lolled on the couch in his Spiderman Underoos, Mad Dog 20/20 bottles scattered about, you gratefully crept to your bed, confident that it was over for the night and you could get some quality sleep. The next thing you know he's tearing through the house like it's the Special Olympics and there's no second place. He's got a baseball bat in one hand and the fire extinguisher in the other, and is suddenly more athletic than you at your most glorious (Field Day, 2nd grade, 1981). Even if you wanted to intervene, you couldn't. You are neither a baseball nor a fire, yet, if you step from your room, you will be treated as both. So you have no choice but to wait it out. You pull the covers up and jam the pillow over your ears in an attempt to muffle the sounds of the overt crazy going on. Eventually it fades away.
Cats do the exact same thing. They wait until you're good and sleepy in your nice warm bed and then they begin tear-assing around the house knocking shit over and skidding across the linoleum until they bash into the stove. You're going to think I'm making this next part up but I'm not. It's 1:17 AM and there was just a tremendous bang from my kitchen, which is right next to the living room where I'm writing this. One of our cats sprinted out immediately after the colossal noise, lurched to halt in front of me and sneezed for 30 solid seconds. She shook her head wildly like she just inhaled bees and then hauled ass down the hall. I didn't even know she was in the kitchen, and I'm certainly not going in there to see what happened. That's for my wife to find out when she gets up for work.
But by far the worst thing these critters do is puke. They vomit more in a week than Keith Richards did in the 70s. They can eat a whole can of cat food, four moths, six spiders, the spine of a dead rat and the entire respiratory system of a possum and be absolutely fine. Then, five days later, they throw up a houseplant.
There's really no explaining this. We have only two (2) cats, but it seems every surface in our house, whether vertical or horizontal, has been spackled with cat vomit. And I use "vomit" to describe everything that comes out of their mouths except for meows. If it comes from the oral cavity, and it's not a purely auditory expression, it's puke. I used to hear the word "hairball" and had vague notions about puffs of fur coming from a cat's mouth, sort of like a tumbleweed suddenly springing into existence. This was before I lived with a cat. Turns out "hairball" is just a socially acceptable way of saying "violent cat emesis with a slimy nougat center." I know a hairball is not technically vomit, but there's really no practical difference. The cat makes a horrible retching sound for about forty- five goddamn minutes and, just when you think it's going to mercifully die, something that looks like a zombie mouse covered in protoplasm ejects from its mouth. And they always extend their neck fully at the moment of emission, then slowly retract it as the actual substance is propelled from their guts. This creates a linear expression of foulness across the carpet rather than a pile. A pile is easier to clean up, whereas a six inch, ragged line of ill-defined vomitus requires a lot more paper towels, Oxy-Deep and cursing.
There isn't really anything in the house that's exempt as a target of cat puke. I have a Buddhist shrine in my meditation room, and I quickly learned to keep the door shut. When my wife and I first moved in together, I was curious at one of our cats' fascination with the altar. She would pace around it, sit rapt in front of it and even jump up on it to investigate the incense and statues. My wife thought it was funny, and would quip about the cat's previous life as a Buddhist monk.
Turns out, the furry little twat was simply scoping out the best place to puke. She's hacked up furballs, cat food and stringy ropes of yellowish bile on every surface of the shrine. There isn't a single area of this space, or, for that matter, the house, that she hasn't barfed on.
Cats can sense your connection with specific items in your home. Since they are powered by low-octane evil, they can identify, and then puke on, your most treasured things. Because of this, our house no longer contains treasured things, or even NICE things. It only contains things. Also, despite having no idea about the differences between carpet, tile and linoleum, cats instinctively understand that carpet is the hardest thing for me to clean steaming puke out of. Our kitchen, where the litter box and cat food are, and our bathroom are the only areas of the house that are not carpeted. And the animals have never once vomited in these spaces. Wait, I have to partially retract that statement: the little fuckers HAVE puked in the bathroom. On the fuzzy bathmat in front of the tub. Not on the acres of linoleum around it, but right dead center in the middle of the only scrap of carpet in an entire room that was made to be sprayed down and cleaned. No cat would ever puke on a smooth surface that could just be wiped off. This sensory development is part of the "Hell Package" that they're born with. It also includes the urge to drink tears and steal the breath from babies, as well as built-in couch-seeking claws and utter disdain for anything you purchase at a pet store for them to scratch on.
Our ever-replenishing supply of Oxy-Deep, once so powerful and comforting, is no longer getting the job done. Cat vomit has become chemically bonded to all of our furnishings and possessions, which means the only thing that comes close to cleaning it is fire. It's true: our house has reached the level where a good spring cleaning will no longer make any difference. It seems a good burning down is the only shot we have. Hopefully, my wife will let me duct tape the cats to the carpet before we start the conflagration.