Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Photo of the FLP by Tracy Grathwohl
At the start of the lockdown, one of our hockey pucks (as I like to refer to our children) moved back home with a cat. Last fall, the hockey puck adopted the cat (hereinafter referred to as the FLP for furry little pucker) and they were living quite happily in New York City before the world got sick and…. Well, you know what happened.
The FLP is learning to live in a larger space with lots of nooks and crannies. At first, she was tentative and only hung out with her owner. As the weeks – or has it been months? – progressed, she has become more comfortable and engages in what I assume are normal house cat activities: napping in the sunny spots, napping under the couch, napping on top of the cable box, and spending her waking moments scowling at the nearest human.
Sometimes the FLP eats her dinner so quickly, she throws up. When this happens, I yell to the hockey puck, “your cat puked.”
My point is, I’m not cleaning up regurgitated cat food.
This cat is not my responsibility.
Because, to put it mildly, I’m not a pet person.
To put it severely, I dislike all animals.
It’s probably because when I was a child, I was afraid of a big dog on my street. Or it could be because pets are a lot of work. Or maybe it’s that all animals smell bad. Or that dogs like to sniff me in places I don’t want to be sniffed.
I don’t have time to psychoanalyze my animal animosity. The outcome is we’ve raised four hockey pucks without having a domesticated mammal for a pet.
Not that the little puckers didn’t try. Over the years, they have begged us for dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, ferrets. Just this morning, the cat owning pucker asked if we could get a baby hedgehog.
The puckers’ pleading was unrelenting, and I’ve always been amazed that Mr. Hockey (my current husband and their current father) never gave in. He grew up with dogs. His father, Mr. Hockey-in-law, was the type of person who would go to the pound and cry.
Also Mr. Hockey is a pushover. He’s the reason we got the goldfish. When the younger pucks were in middle school, I went away for one day (24 hours!) and came home to a fully functioning fish tank. A fish tank that Mr. Hockey never cleaned or even looked at again.
So, we have had some non-mammal pets: a few fish and a turtle, all of which cycled quickly through the circle of life.
I won’t confirm or deny if I had a hand in any of these animals’ demise. I also can’t confirm or deny whether the turtle died. We released it into a pond, and turtles can live a long time. At least that’s what I told the little puckers.
Alas, the hockey pucks are old enough to care and, more importantly, pay for their own pets. Knowing my aversion to the animal kingdom, this particular pucker didn’t plan to be living back home with a cat. But then things went all covidian (the new word I’ve coined!) and…. Well, you know what happened.
The FLP is now so comfortable here that, like all of us, she is getting restless. This is exacerbated by the fact that the hockey puck takes her out for walks. One of our other little puckers bought the FLP a hot pink harness and leash as a welcome-to-the-family gift and on the nice days the hockey puck wrestles her into it, and they go for promenades on the back porch.
The FLP really likes The Outside. Birds! Squirrels! Not The Inside!
So much so, that during her waking moments, she spends an inordinate amount of time scratching the back door and loudly mewing. I keep telling her she’s an indoor cat. The FLP only glares at me. It’s a withering glare.
The FLP has also started drinking out of cups. If there is a cup of water lying around – and if any of your hockey pucks are home, you know there are always cups lying around – the FLP jumps up to it, purposely knocking over whatever is nearby, and takes a swig.
When this recalcitrant behavior occurs, the “F” in FLP does not mean furry.
A month – or has it been a year? — into the lockdown, I empathize with the FLP. I too have been wandering around the house chugging whatever I can. Instead of water, I prefer a cabernet. I’ve also been hanging around the back door, but my meows are not as dulcet as the FLP’s. And I won’t confirm or deny whether I’ve scratched Mr. Hockey.
It turns out, I also really like The Outside. People! Stores! Restaurants where they both prepare the food and wash the dishes!
So where am I on my antipathy for animals? I guess they’re not so bad. Particularly when they aren’t scary, malodorous, and don’t sniff me in inappropriate places. It’s also much easier when there’s a little pucker around to do the dirty work.
Let’s call it a détente. The FLP and I have come to an understanding: I’ll give her a little back rub every now and then. But I won’t take her for a stroll on the back porch.
She will continue to glare. And it will be withering.
Published in The East Hampton Press, April 23, 2020.