Damien Leonard Vaughn/Booth

February 22, 2020

Shortly after publishing last week’s entry, I realized that I haven’t properly introduced the new additions to our family. This is unusual for me since my favorite topics are myself and my cats. So let me remedy that by introducing you to the first of two of our most recently acquired heathens.

In August of 2018, my husband and I stopped by the pet store because our three remaining wallet leeches required food. I assume you’ve read at least one news article about a cat (or cats) showing respect for their neglected, deceased caregiver by snacking on their cadaver. I have, and it’s this fear that drives me to the pet store every week to stock up on sustenance so they won’t eat me while I sleep. The next time your cats gather at your feet and meow as you prepare their breakfast, know that they aren’t vocalizing their gratitude or anticipation. They’re telling you that you’re lucky you woke up to feed them when you did.

On this particular day, the pet supply store hosted an adoption event for cats. Before you read any further, I should emphasize that I have perused numerous adoption events and am emotionally desensitized against all pleading eyes, pitiful mews, and clinging hugs. It’s fun meeting orphans, but I can always rely on the PTSD from raising five sloppy cats who never got along to preserve my apathy. But then I saw Leonard.

One of many human weaknesses is that most of us are drawn to cute shit. Whenever we see something adorable, our brain malfunctions, causing us to crave its affection and compete for its affinity through cuddling, hugging, and/or gibberish. It’s so predictable, I wonder why enemy governments haven’t weaponized this human weakness with exploding puppies or kittens with poisonous flatulence. This malfunction is the only reason I can use to explain why I gravitated towards this ordinary Russian Blue with a clipped left ear and non-poisonous farts.

Even though I acted on this malfunction, I trusted my history of indifference towards homeless animals to shield me from an irrational and impulsive decision. However, what I did is what bad writers prone to cliches would call ‘playing with fire.’

The moment, I draped it over my right shoulder like a baby being burped, his hind legs relaxed down the front of my torso and he nuzzled his head into my neck. I felt his purr vibrate into my chest. If I had one word to describe his behavior, it would be “familiarity.” If a stranger captured a glance at us in that moment, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to assume that this cat and I had been companions for years.

I turned to my husband with a bewildered expression. I looked into his eyes and said something I’ll never forget.

“Ah, fuck.”

The rest of his story is fairly predictable. He came home with us on what I claimed would be a “trial basis”; however, he was never returned. We changed his name to Damien because of his strange obsession with The Omen movie one night. He lost all but four of his teeth to stomatitis. A white shoelace we call “the worm” is his favorite toy. And my brain still malfunctions when he greets me at the door at the end of every work day.

That experience taught me that my will against homeless animals isn’t as strong as I made myself believe. It’s like an addition, and I intend to treat it as one from now on. Just like some people can’t be trusted to “have just one bite,” “take just one puff,” or “put in just the tip,” I can’t be trusted at cat adoption events.

Next week, I’ll introduce Predator Face.

Until then, you can now follow me on Facebook and Instagram: @reluctantcatownerjournal. You may also notice the new URL: http://www.thereluctantcatowner.com.

The first day in his new home.
Dancer legs.
His sleeping spot.