So we obtained a cat last week. We went to the animal shelter and we were all like “Cat: give us one,” and they made us walk through about a thousand kittens, and the volunteers they would pick up these tiny mewling balls of fluff and hurl them at us and sometimes they would stick and sometimes not and then there were all these kittens at our feet, shrieking and furious, or unconscious, and we fought our way through and demanded to see an older cat, something that wasn’t stupid.
So you go around and here are all the cats, and they all live in three-foot-wide jail cells. Two-story jail cells, but still, prison. And they’re nice cats. Some are fat. Some are sleeping. You wave at them: wake up! You’re missing your chance here, pal! They’re not moved one way or the other. And in one of the little cubicles here is this one cat, and she is pretty, a tortoiseshell, and mouthy, and pacing back and forth like a tiger and screaming at us, which we would later understand to mean I AM IN NEED OF AN ACTION! PLEASE PERFORM IT NOW! NOW! Scritched her on the head and played with her nextdoor neighbor, an acrobatic daredevil who did a nosedive into her cage while jumping for my finger. Then I met a kitten that turned out to be named Spock, and I thought, I don’t really want a kitten, but it is called Spock; its ears are extra large and they named it Spock. I think I was meant to have this cat. We waited until the next day and came back, certain we would get this Spock kitty and bring him home.
He had already been adopted. Which was good, because now I didn’t have to worry about a homeless kitty named Spock. But, still. We are down one cat. Back to the cubicles we go. How about this big fat guy called Mr. Big? He’s old and cranky, so of course you want him. They put us in a room and bring him in, and he plops down and doesn’t move. Pet him and he snarls. Only moves his front paws. Not happy. “He’s got pretty bad arthritis,” says the volunteer. We all make sad faces at each other, and decide an angry cat with arthritis is probably more than we can take on right now. “How about that tortie you call Mia?” I ask. The volunteer says go in the other room; I will bring her to you.
Well, she turns out to love us. Like, really hard. Except 10 minutes into the loving she snaps and hisses and freaks out. “She sometimes gets a little cranky because she’s stressed out here,” the volunteer says with a pleading look. I’m not fussed about it. The old girl is burrowing into Robyn’s armpit and winning over my formerly catless-for-life wife. “We’ll take her, but we’re not calling her Mia. Mia is a stripper’s name.” We spend the next hour filling out forms and such and then they send us home with an old half-deranged cat in a cardboard box. WHAT A COUNTRY, Yakov Smirnoff says from the proximity of Branson.
There is no information about this girl. They think she is somewhere between 5-7 years old. She’s had her shots. She has never been microchipped. The loose skin under her belly indicates she’s had babies. That’s it. Whoever had her before stuffed her into the night slot and peeled away. She’s been in the clink for over four months.
We get her home. She’s pretty freaked out, but still wants to be friends. Within a couple days she makes herself completely at home and is currently the most awesome cat ever: you can tell from the pixels. Her name is Agnes now and she is a genteel middle-aged lady who loves couches, sleeping and laps. She is also actually between 8 and 10 years old, according to her new vet. But her teeth are good.
She went to cough up a hairball a couple days after we got her home, or at least I thought it was a hairball. I looked closely, expecting that slimy mass of yellow/green goo that comes out of the cat’s mouth when the hairball comes up, but instead it was a little rolled-up piece of paper. “FACTS ABOUT AGNES YOU PROBABLY DID NOT KNOW,” it said at the top after I wiped the spit off of it. I was more shocked that we had guessed the name correctly than anything else. I unrolled the rest of the paper:
Agnes is 8 years, 4 months and 13 days old, it read. Agnes can see in the dark. Agnes prefers chunky bits of beef smothered in a savory sauce. Agnes gets over-excited about catnip. Agnes will chase a laser pen and when you turn it off, she will carefully lift her paw so as not to let whatever might be under it get away. You probably already figured some of these things out, but here is some more information.
Agnes knows how to waterski. Barefoot. She can shoot LAZORS out of her TAIL. PEW PEW! Agnes once beat a man to death for snoring too loud: be careful! Agnes can play poker and she knows how to cheat. Agnes once drove a truck from Chicago to Albuquerque without stopping once to pee. Agnes can type 75 words per minute. Agnes enjoys light rock and jazz fusion, but none of that Kenny G. shit. Agnes can swim to a depth of 112 feet. Agnes can retract her own head into her neck as a defensive measure. Agnes once ate an entire extra-large pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Round Table in one sitting on a dare. Agnes is chronically late for parties. Agnes is a pretty good tipper. Agnes can be carried like a suitcase using the convenient handle attached to her back and hidden within her coat. Agnes thinks the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live were so overrated they set an unreasonably high bar for every season that followed, and that TV critics of the 70s are directly responsible for most of the sadness and disappointment we feel when we watch that show today. Agnes can turn into a hat, if needed.
Please take care of Agnes. Thanks.
And so we will.