January 29, 2000
Skeeter is not entirely happy about the way we live. For example, he doesn’t like my going to work. With more justification, he disapproves of some of my attitudes. Most of my experience with animals is with dogs. In a relationship with a pet, I elect myself pack leader. Cats are not pack animals. Skeeter, a democrat, considers us equals and resents my bumptious ways.
This is particularly true when it comes to food. I buy various kinds of food for Skeeter so he won’t become too set on one type or flavor. I had a friend in high school whose cat, Sparkles, would eat nothing but Kitty Queen Tuna. No other brand would do, even people tuna. Kitty Queen Salmon would not do, either. My friend’s family had Kitty Queen Tuna crises, when none could be found. “Did you try the all‑night drugstore?” “We went there last time, remember? They don’t have it.” The cat probably would have starved before it ate anything else.
My friend’s mother had a strange relationship with the cat. She believed Sparkles to be the reincarnation of her own mother, long deceased. So the cat ruled the household. I am not going down that road with Skeeter.
A gauntlet has been thrown, though, regarding turkey. Till last week, he ate it with obvious enjoyment. The two cans I’ve given him this week have gone untouched. Someone said it might be spoiled, that I should smell it. A longtime vegetarian, I think meat always smells spoiled, but I gave it a whiff. Disgusting, but not rancid. I won’t buy it again, though, if he feels that way.
This morning he got beef, which he accepted. In fact, he made a pig of himself. After breakfast he returned to the bedroom, belching alarmingly.
“Would Monsieur like a potato with the steak next time?” I asked. “Perhaps a small glass of red wine?” Monsieur looked interested. “A salad?” No sale.
I think I’ll continue being pack leader. Like all despots, I perpetuate Skeeter’s servitude by monopolizing the means to freedom: the checkbook, the car keys, the can opener.
It’s unfair that I should be the leader just because I’m bigger and smarter and have opposable thumbs. But it’s going to stay that way as long as I can manage it. If Skeeter is the reincarnation of my mother, she can learn to eat what she’s given.