birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

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An indifferent relationship

I have an indifferent relationship with cats. My parents had a cat (Dudley) that they picked up in Italy, years before I was born. Dudley hated interacting with people. If you left him alone, that was fine, but he would not be picked up nor moved from wherever he happened to be. He wasn't a lap cat, either. To get him to the vet, we would leave food in the carrier and swoop down when he went inside to close it. Dudley died when I was a kid. I don't remember how young, but I was pretty young.

My parents got two replacement cats, because they were told that it's better for the kittens and more fun for everyone else: Ezhfel (it means midnight in some language or another), a.k.a. EJ, was black; Eris was calico. They were more affectionate and accepting of affection, but we just existed together, more or less. I preferred my dog, Rex. They all went with my parents down to Phoenix when I went away to college, and passed away on their own after I had gone away to the Army.

My first wife had two cats before we got together: Kushi and Neko-chan (she's a Japanophile). They hated me, which was fine with me. I fed them and took care of them despite it. One escaped from the house one day and was never seen again. She had always tried to escape, every single time anyone ever opened a door, for her entire life, and she finally made it. The other one lived to a ripe old age, longer than the marriage, long enough for our daughter to remember her. They got a couple more cats later, but I don'r recall ever meeting them.

My second (and so far last) wife had a middle-aged cat when we got together: Kabuki (she's not a Japanophile, she just liked the name) was a good cat who wearily accepted me as a new addition to the family, but vastly preferred my daughter. Kabuki lived to a ripe old age of seventeen or so before he got very sick very fast, and with no good prognosis, was put down quickly and painlessly. His ashes are in the front yard, under a stone made by the kids, all of whom loved him very much.

After a few months, we got a new middle-aged cat, French Fries. The name came with the cat; my wife calls her Frenchy. She's clearly used to human food (probably hence the name) and is so incredibly tolerant of kids playing with her, even the baby that came along just a few months after Frenchy joined the family. We got lucky.