Living With Yoda (the Cat)
“On the other hand, a cat’s love is like that of an aging, jaded, crack-addicted prostitute. It’s there for you when the cat needs it. It’s there with conditions. It’s there when there’s something in it for the cat.”
These past couple of months have been something I would not have predicted even two months earlier. I have a new roommate. Life in my NYC area apartment was everything I ever wanted. A fantastic view of midtown Manhattan, everything was in its place, and the place was always neat and clean since I lived alone. I came and went, slept and woke, ate and drank, all exactly when I wanted, again since I answered to no one. Well, I still have an amazing view. And yeah, according to my lease agreement, this is a roommate, not a pet. I have to pay additional “rent” for him.
Life among the COVID-19 pandemic changed things for most of us. For me, the changes have been admittedly minor. I have been lucky. Among the most significant differences for me involve not being able to go to my favorite restaurants and bars. I can no longer walk through the crowded streets of midtown Manhattan, feeding off the energy of the masses. I’m working from home exclusively. These changes caused me to start thinking about something that hasn’t been in my life for a long time — a pet. I was hesitant because of my love of travel. I can’t travel right now, of course, but the coronavirus won’t have us down forever. A pet is a long-term commitment. But there are kennels for when travel is again an option. I decided it might be time to get a dog.
I’ve never disliked cats. I always saw them as majestic animals, very beautiful and I love watching them play. I was just more of a dog person and never considered a cat, and the search was on for the perfect dog. I had in my mind the kind of dog I wanted. Something on the larger size, but not too big. Definitely, the type of dog that would make people take notice. A dog that people might admire, but from a respectful distance unless granted permission to come closer. A pit bull, German shepherd, Doberman pincher, any of these would have suited me just fine. As it turns out, however, the apartment complex from which I enjoy the previously mentioned view of midtown Manhattan does not allow such dog breeds. This limitation on dog size is in the fine print on my lease that I never really read. A poodle, French bulldog, cocker spaniel, or miniature schnauzer would be fine, but nothing much larger than these breeds would be allowed.
I made a joke that if I can only have a “foo foo dog,” I would just go full-foo foo and get a cat. A friend overheard this comment and informed me that her cat recently had kittens and asked if I wanted one. I didn’t take the offer seriously at first, but just out of curiosity, I asked if she had a photo of the kittens. After seeing the pictures of the kittens, one caught my eye. “If the grey one with blue eyes is available,” I informed her, “I’ll take it!” And life hasn’t been the same since that day.
Now, let’s get one thing straight up front. Yoda, that’s my kitten’s name, Yoda, is the cutest kitten ever in the history of kittens. No exceptions. If you disagree, I’m sorry, you are wrong, and I’m happy to help you find a good eye doctor. Yoda is just beyond cute. He’s perfect. Among my family and friends on social media, Yoda immediately became more popular than me. And for a good reason. Watching Yoda grow over this past couple of months has been superb entertainment. And as a first-time cat owner, I’ve learned so much about our furry feline friends.
For example, an early scare Yoda gave me came when he just disappeared from my apartment. I went to the market, and when I came back, I could not find him. I looked everywhere — multiple times. I called for him, and as cats tend to do, he did not come. I even started thinking of ways he might have followed me out the door without realizing it, so I looked for him in my building. Then I came back and looked everywhere I could think of in the apartment again. I only have a one-bedroom apartment; there aren’t that many places to hide. I was getting a little worried. And then, he just walked across the bedroom floor as if nothing had happened. For the life of me, I could not figure out where he had been hiding. Well, the next day, he did it again. And this time, when I was calling for him, I heard a very slight scratching sound coming from under the bed. I looked under the bed, and I couldn’t see him, but I could still hear a small scratching sound. My bed has two drawers built into the footboard area, and he had managed to climb over into my sock drawer. This dark, private spot had become his favorite place to have alone time.
Another thing I learned is how much like little children kittens can be. Anyone with kids probably has a story about that Christmas when you went all out to get the perfect toys for your munchkins for them to end up playing with the boxes the toys came in. Well, I spent quite some time online to pick the perfect toys for Yoda and spent more money on him than I care to print here. When the day came, and I put out all these new cat toys, Yoda’s favorite thing to play with turned out to be a paper towel I had accidentally dropped on the floor.
Perhaps the most consequential thing I’ve learned is that a cat can love you like a dog. Well, not exactly like a dog, but cats can love you. The aloofness cats are famous (or infamous) for leads many to not see this love. A cat’s love is different from that of a dog I must admit. A dog’s love is like that of an innocent young person. Perfect, seemingly limitless, beautiful, unencumbered by self-interest. Perhaps this is why a special kind of young love is called “puppy love.” Who has ever heard of kitten love? That’s just weird. A dog will unhesitatingly sacrifice itself to defend you if an intruder comes into your home.
On the other hand, a cat’s love is like that of an aging, jaded, crack-addicted prostitute. It’s there for you when the cat needs it. It’s there with conditions. It’s there when there’s something in it for the cat. If an intruder comes into your home, don’t worry — about the cat, he will be safe. The cat will find a safe place to hide until the danger has passed. A sock drawer perhaps. Unlike that of a dog, a cat’s love is not everpresent and unconditional. But there is also affection there for you until that untimely demise. Sometimes what the cat desires is to be so close to you as almost to seem inseparable from you. Just don’t get too accustomed to the affection because cats are easily pulled away by shiny objects that are more appealing at the moment than you are. The nature of a cat’s love reminds me of an observation made by Christopher Hitchens, “Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
Perhaps one reason Yoda and I get along so well is not in spite of, but because of, the way he shows reciprocal affection. He’s not too needy. We give each other space. When I come home, he runs to the door to welcome me. But once mutual greetings and cursory affections are demonstrated, he goes back to whatever he was doing while I was away. And when it’s time to sit on the couch and enjoy a movie and a glass of wine, he’s there for me, and I’m there for him as it seems his favorite spot at movie time is in my lap, and that’s ok by me.
Two months in, and I can’t imagine life without Yoda, and I look forward to seeing him grow up. This story has to stop for now because Yoda is demanding my attention, and I don’t want to miss the window of opportunity!