Cats Are Evil

We have a new cat whose name is probably the most on-the-nose name a cat can have: Misjif. He’s so mischievious he even spelled mischief wrong.

Take all the things that make cats cat-like–climbs everything, yowls in the middle of the night, clever in all the wrong ways, velociraptor-like learning curve and love of mayhem–and turn them up to CAT. That is Misjif. Also cute. He’s stinkin’ adorable, which makes all of this worse: you can’t stay mad at him (though trust me I’m working really hard on that).

Here’s a typical day:

Up at 6am to yowl at the top of his tiny lungs, which are surprisingly loud. Like, you would not think an animal that weighs as much as your JBL Bluetooth speaker would be as loud as one. After all, the speaker’s entire mass and volume is dedicated to making sounds. A lot of the cat’s mass is dedicated to jumping on things and tearing them apart.

Also at 6am, time to attempt, for the hundreth time, to escape from Hades…erm, the bathroom where he sleeps. One day, he will not only figure out how to turn the handle (he’s already got a handle on that) but also how to pull the door hard enough to dislodge it from the too-small doorframe. “One day, I’ll escape this pitch-black hell.”

Once he gets let out by the human authorities at 7am (note, he was yowling and body-checking the door for an hour, sometimes more if he felt like being super productive and rising at 4am, which has happened), he needs to make sure both humans are up. It’s not sufficient that just one of us is out of bed. That’s unacceptable. So one of us gets up, tries to play with him, maybe feed him, show him affection and love. The whole time, he is saying, “Human! Where’s the other one? Do you realize there’s only one of you now? I think I saw it go in this door last night. Let me open it and show you.” Time now to demonstrate all the door-opening practice he’s accumuated over the nights spent captive.

At 8am, he gets fed a delicious and well-balanced, attentively curated meal of humanely sourced fish or chicken and turkey. Sometimes, we even thaw out some delicious, pasture-raised raw chicken for him to munch on. What a spoiled kitty. Of course, it’s never enough. Nothing is ever enough. Enough is not a word Misjif understands, except when it comes to pets. Then enough is about 15 pets. Any more than that is justification for maximum retribution in the form of claws and teeth.

After feeding, it’s time for the morning zoomies. Our apartment is not that big, so this entails sprinting from the bedroom, down the hall and through the living room, and back, many times, while screaming. Also, there are cats in the walls that we need to be notified about, again, as he has done so diligently since we got him. “There are cats in the shiny reflective walls in both bathrooms! WTF! How did they get there? Why do they look like me? What sick horror is this? Why don’t you humans do something about this?”

“Any WHY for the love of Bast are the doors closed?! Closed doors are unacceptable!!!!”

Misjif is not scared of anything, except loneliness I guess. Sometimes we let him walk around outside (with supervision). We figured the constant train of dogs would keep him from getting too confident. We were wrong. The first time a dog came by, Misjif rushed it and arched his back. The dog thought he wanted to play. We knew he actually wanted the chance to use his claws on something more rewarding than the inert scratching posts, which, sadly, do not bleed.

Then it’s time for a nap. He’s pretty much non-responsive for the rest of the day until 6pm, when he decides he’d like his dinner 2 hours early thank you very much.

Cats like routines. This I understand. What I don’t understand is how Misjif can be so committed to routines that have never occurred. He has never been fed before 8pm, or 8am. He has never been let out of his sleeping room before 7am. So, why does he seem to think it will happen one day? Why does he seem so eager to alter his existing routine?

The only answer I have is that cats are nature’s contrarians. They like routines when maintaining a routine is an annoyance, and they prefer chaos when the routine is better. So a better statement might be, “Cat’s prefer the routine that is least convenient to you, the human. Imagine the absolute worst living arrangement and routine you can, the one that would totally destroy your ability to function and turn you into a mindless zombie. The cat would prefer that, except worse. Because as soon as you get used to that routine, the cat will expect something else.”

Misjif’s ideal situation is to curl up like an adorable fur-covered cat croissant at our feet when we go to bed, right until the moment we begin to fall asleep, as which point, he will suddenly be filled with all the murderous energy of a creature designed with retractable blades in its hands and feet. Climbing things, jumping onto high shelves, midnight zoomies, checking behind and under everything for the mice he is apparently hallucinating. Oh yes, let’s not forget his constant and unending desire to rush over our heads to the window above our bed, just to make sure there aren’t any birds sitting outside in the middle of the night.

This is Misjif’s ideal situation. I know this because we lived through it. Barely. Now, he sleeps in a sensory-deprived cell where he can be free of his own nighttime hallucinations. Until there is just enough light coming under the door for his cat-vision (able to see in six times less light than humans, so not that much light) for him to decide it’s time. Time to hunt. Time to feed. Time to enact mischief upon the unsuspecting humans who try, for reasons now lost and forgotten to the sleep-deprived ages, to give him a loving, comfortable home.

I wish I could truly convey the shocking capacity for mischief this cat has demonstrated. Every time we figure something out, he defies our expectations. The only thing that has seemed to stop him is doors that need to be pulled to open, and we aren’t banking on that being permanent. There is no shelf, ledge, or even toehold he hasn’t tried to reach, and he’ll climb things without checking if there’s anywhere for him to actually perch.

Then, out of the blue, he’ll settle down and curl up on someone’s lap. And I remember that he was a stray and yet retained his affection for humans, that he is a small, displaced refugee who really just wants to be near his adopted family and who is struggling to be a cat in a world that doesn’t always accommodate his nature. My heart will melt and I’ll feel some compassion for him, and think we can keep trying for another day.

And the cycle will repeat itself. I never seem to learn. Probably because he prevents me from sleeping enough to consolidate any memories of his misdeeds. Welcome to my sisyphisian torment.