At Target today I scooped up a ton of Fancy Feast cat food. It’s my cat’s food of choice, and we needed some, but there was also one of those Target gift card deals, so we stocked up. And then, as we checked out, the cashier was remarking on the good deal. “I wish my cats would eat it,” she said. Foolishly, I asked what her cats ate. She named some delectable, organic, no-meat-by-products cat food that makes Fancy Feast sound like, you know, dog food. I smiled politely as I wheeled out my cart full of Tuna Feast out of the store, but then I realized that the woman who was working a presumably not-too-high-paying job cared enough about her cats to feed them only the best. She’s clearly a better Cat Mom than me. Really, I walked through the parking lot thinking, “She cares enough about her cats to budget for Supremely Fabulous and Organic Cat Chow. She is probably a better and more compassionate person than me, all-around.” Jeepers, I can’t even have a casual conversation with a stranger without rethinking all of my Life Choices.
I’m kidding. Mostly.
I arrived home from errands with 20 minutes before J’s arrival from school, and rather than putting groceries and other items away, I took my book outside in the backyard. It was lovely. Until I heard a baby wailing. It was pretty much the most annoying baby wail I’d ever heard. And then I realized that it wasn’t a baby: it was a cat. Caterwauling. Oh my gosh, I love how caterwauling is such an excellent example of onomatopoeia. Incidentally, onomatopoeia is my favorite spelling word ever since elementary school. Is it weird to have a favorite spelling word? Well, I peered through the fence and saw my cat on the steps of a neighbor’s back deck while the neighbor’s cat looked down at her, caterwaaaaaahhhhhhhhling. Dang. I hustled around the garage and over the fallen apples on someone else’s lawn to yell at my cat. She ignored me, then glanced at me with a sullen expression very similar to my 11-year-old’s lately, then, when she realized I wasn’t going to let up, she retreated, but not without fixing me with another resentful look. It was pretty comical, actually. So then I started talking to her like she was a teenager. “Isis, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you, but you were clearly on that cat’s turf. And I don’t want either of you to get hurt. I know that cat comes here sometimes, but I’m not in charge of that cat, I’m only in charge of you.” She gave me a close look at her tail, sniffed at my snack, and hustled away. When I started writing this I looked up caterwauling, which led me to rutting, and oh my gosh, was that cat hitting on my little Isis? She’s been spayed, but it’s feeling more and more like this entire household is awash in female hormones. Poor Cute W.
Meanwhile, one daughter had a mild freakout when she noticed a problem with our goldfish, Madison. “Oh, my gosh! Something’s wrong! Here insides are spilling out! Come look!”
“That’s poop,” offered the other daughter.
“No, it’s not! It looks awful! What is it? Oh my gosh!”
“It’s poop. She does it all the time. How have you missed that?”
One daughter was in despair, the other trying to contain herself from rolling her eyes. And this is why the internet is so handy, as Google Images came to the rescue and confirmed the poop diagnosis.
I also had a small parenting triumph. The girls had finished their homework, and I’d just come in from a trip out to the car (finally unloading it) when I realized that both girls were on the living room sofa, engrossed in their respective iPods and singing P!nk loudly. “Okay, girls. Take 2 more minutes to finish up whatever game or activity you’re doing, and then head outside.” J doesn’t seem to hear me, M moans loudly. “I mean it!” I say. “It’s beautiful outside and there are leaves to be crunched.” And then I set about stacking cat food cans. I never send the kids outside like this. Usually I just suggest it. Or I go outside myself, and sometimes they’ll follow. It was an impulse move, and I was already regretting it, trying to decide how much of a battle this would be, when I heard M yell, “J, I’ll be outside!” and J answered, “Okay, in a minute!”
So even if I’m not the Best Cat Mom Ever, I was still feeling pretty good.