Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do cats get claustrophobic too?

I have an uncanny knack of making feral cats my pets, especially if they exhibit outward signs of human sociability. I always pounce on that weakness. For instance, my first-ever pet cat Clovis was a wild cat which I slowly lured to domestication by appealing to its voracious appetite. The others that followed were drawn by basically the same motivation. But not Dr. Jinx.

Or maybe he was when our friendship started. The memory of our first meeting was lost in the blurry of my college years. All I remember was that as soon as I stepped on the topmost rung of the staircase that leads to the door of my boarding house, he sprinted towards me, meowing like crazy, and rubbed his white and orange head against my legs. I was a bit taken aback by his aggressiveness. Never have I encountered such behavior unless the cat and I are already friends, which we weren’t. But ever the diplomatic person who will not thwack any unfamiliar cat’s butt, I sweetly said hello. I could not remember if I shared some leftovers that night but my brief greeting further goaded him to come near me. The next day, he was at his antics again and this time, he was clever enough to get ahead of me in entering the room. Up to the present, I wrestle with him at the door as he futilely attempts to bypass my towering frame. I think his goal in life is to just set his furry paws in our cozy room.

Anyway, since it has been his habit to hang out in our room, I let him indulge in this desire every once in a while. In fact, I let him sleep there. And so far, he hasn’t chewed on my toes or peed on my shoes yet so it’s fine with me. One day, while I was watching a movie from the computer, a small rat tiptoed across the computer table right in front of me. I wanted to scream but the image of the rat jumping at me and landing right into my mouth shut me up. As I found out later from my brother, the rat George has been disturbing us for quite some time. (Yes, my brother and I name our mammal friends. The only creatures I don’t give names are cockroaches because one, they’re the grossest things on earth. Two, they’re not mammals. And lastly, they’re not our friends.) I decided it was payback time. I let Dr. Jinx inside the room and waited. I was about to drift off to slumber when I heard a crash. (By the way, I named the cat Dr. Jinx because I feel that our electric fan is at the brink of extinction every time he roughly brushes his head against it, as if he really plans to jinx it up.) Sure enough, George’s tail was wiggling like a lollipop outside Dr. Jinx’s mouth. Eeewww. Well, at least I’m happy and Dr. Jinx is happy. That’s all that matters. And I thought that was the end of the Georges.

One night, I was stripped down at the bathroom ready for a ritual evening bath, humming to my heart’s content when a George lurking somewhere popped its small pointed head and ran around the bathroom in squares. I instinctively jumped on the toilet seat and my soft humming evolved to natural screaming. I got dressed quickly, locked the bathroom door behind me, and called on Dr. Jinx for help. For some weird reason, Dr. Jinx was scared of the bathroom. No matter how many times I tried to shove him towards it, he would always find a way to evade the damn bathroom. Unmoved, I dragged him to the bathroom and locked him inside. As soon as I closed the door, Dr. Jinx started whimpering! Jinxie, find George and eat him alive, I pleaded through the door. The whimpering continued. Then I heard a scratch. I thought he finally caught George. Imagine my astonishment when I opened the bathroom door and saw Dr. Jinx, not on the floor but at the top of the thin laundry line wobbling for dear life with wide eyes. I could not imagine how he got up there, considering that the laundry line was way over my head. Being trapped in a bathroom seemed to pump some adrenaline into the poor cat. Seriously, are cats capable of getting claustrophobia? Anyway, I got Dr. Jinx out of the bathroom and forcefully shooed George out. (while shrieking, of course) The moment George skittered on the room premises, Dr. Jinx grabbed him and chomped him down. But the whole ordeal left indelible memories on Dr. Jinx’s system. After that night, he never dared go anywhere near the bathroom door and would rather lie down at the bottom of the double-decked bed near my shoes. No George has been pestering us since then and I’m almost looking forward to meeting another George. Why? Well, he might be the key to finding out another one of Dr. Jinx’s well-kept secrets.

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