Note: Still working on the book.
I just saw this quote from Neil Gaiman and loved it. He’s talking about one of his cats, and why he’ll miss it when it’s gone (even though it is mean, grumpy, and dangerous).
I’ve also felt this sort of strange affection toward animals that might be, charitably, called evil. I think Gaiman does a nice job of describing why these creatures find a place in our hearts.
There used to be seven cats in this house. There were always seven cats. As one died off or went walkabout, never to return, another would turn up at the back door. But two large white dogs sort of put an end to that, alas. So as the older cats have died off, the house cat numbers have diminished.
Cocunut, who was once Maddy’s kitten, is the youngest. He’s a very amiable, easygoing sort of cat.
And then there’s Princess, who is not amiable, and is only easygoing in the sense that the mad old lady who lives down the road and glares at you when you walk past her house is easygoing if you don’t disturb her. Princess is the oldest cat we have. She arrived here on June 26th, 1994, Holly’s 9th birthday. But I’d glimpsed her at a distance, a feral ghost living wild in the woods for a good year before that. She’s feisty and grumpy and likes making people do their trick for her, which is turning on the tap so a trickle of water comes out, and then waiting while she drinks a little.
She glares at you if you turn the tap off before she’s done.
She also likes making visitors pet her. In the old days, she would let you know she was done being stroked by viciously sinking her teeth into you, deep and hard. But she’s tool old for that nonsense now. I used to have to muzzle her before I could trim her nails or remove knotted balls of fur. Now she’ll submit to anything. Beneath the fur she weighs nothing at all …
And I just discovered that she has a lump on her left cheek. I’ll get her to the vet… I hope it’s not something big and bad. I’ve grown so used to having a bad tempered but beautiful cat that I need to warn visitors about. She’s outlasted all the cats I loved and all the cats I bonded with.
And I think she’s grown very used to me.
When Zoe died, it was really easy to explain to people how much you could miss a sweet, gentle cat who was nothing but a ball of utter love. I’m going to have a much harder time one day, months or even years from now, explaining why I miss the meanest, grumpiest, and most dangerous cat I’ve ever encountered.
I totally understand where he’s coming from.
As an example of one of my evil animals, I once had a horse that thought it necessary to buck people off and tap-dance on them. Over the course of two years he bucked off and kicked everyone who thought they could ride him. This includes me. Twice.
(Most of the time, though, he was just fine. It was just that once in a while when he felt the need to remind you he was evil where you had to be careful. I’m not really sure what happened to that horse. My parents waited until I was living overseas, and then sold him quietly. Now, he’s probably off running the Evil League of Evil.)