Several weeks ago, I moved to New York. While searching for an apartment, I've been staying with friends. Normally I'd be in a rush to find a place of my own and get settled, but in this case I've been more leisurely than expected. The reason for this is simple: there's a new kitten in the apartment.
His name is Oliver. He's adorable. But as is the way with all cats, his charm is a facade. Nothing acts that cute without an ulterior motive.
By the time I arrived on the east coast, Oliver had already settled into my friend's apartment. I asked why he'd decided to get a kitten, and he explained that it hadn't exactly been a choice. He'd found Oliver in the street one rainy night, wet and scared. Tiny and alone, it was obvious that he was a stray.
My friend had picked him up and taken him home. "That's a cute story," I told him. "That kitten is lucky you showed up."
Still, I had doubts. Cats are sneaky and treacherous, and many of them hatch deliberate plans to worm their way into warm and comfortable homes. They hang out in dumpsters and alleys, waiting for some unsuspecting human to scoop them up.
Since my job consists of making art, writing funny stories, and watching Top Chef marathons, I stay home during the day with the kitten while my friend is at work. For the most part, I have nothing to complain about. Oliver nibbles on my toes, makes little chirping sounds at me when he wants to be pet, and brings all his toys into the living room to show me, which he places in a pile near my feet. It's a cute distraction from my workload.
Sometimes, though, he's a a handful. Like when I'm trying to play Skyrim and he's acting like a feline version of Honey Boo Boo hopped up on go-go juice.
Generally, kittens are pretty simple if you can figure out what's going on inside their heads. Luckily their heads are the size of unripe kiwis, so it's safe to assume there's not much going on inside.
If Oliver is any indication, I figure kittens have three modes of existence: hungry, sleepy, and violent. Hungry Oliver is easily dealt with. Drop a few pounds of raw beef on the floor and you've got yourself a few minutes of peace and quiet. As for Sleepy Oliver, that's a bit more problematic—mainly because he likes to sleep in the more inopportune places.
Cats do this squinty thing with their eyes when they're getting sleepy. When I see Oliver squinting at me from across the room, I know it's time to find a save point in my videogame or wrap up whatever blog entry about vomit I'm currently in the middle of, because I know I'm about to have a purring cat nuzzled up against me.
Squinty Oliver is charming, but as with every other adorable thing kittens do, it's a trick, and shouldn't be trusted.
When Ollie squints at me, it usually means, "I want to snuggle as close to you as possible with some part of my butthole touching your face." Worst case scenario, it indicates he's relaxing in preparation of farting on me.
And Oliver's farts are astoundingly bad.
It's hard to describe a smell through the internet, but I'll try. Imagine if a pirate farted into a treasure chest right before his ship sank in the Pacific Ocean, then 400 years later famed oceanographer Robert Ballard discovered the wreck and raised the treasure chest to the surface and opened it on a hot summer day, releasing the half-millenium old stench out into the open. That's what Oliver's farts smell like.
Cat farts aside, I can manage Oliver when he's cuddly. When he becomes fesity and bitey, it's another story. Sometimes he's just lovingly destructive, like when he rips buttons off my shirt, or chews on my eyebrows hard enough to draw blood, or rips apart the furniture (which I allow, because it's not my furniture and I don't have to pay to replace it).
If the object is small enough, Oliver likes to drag it into the living room so he can ruin it in front of me. He keeps his eyeballs fixed on me the whole time, like he's testing me. Warning me.
Other times, unexpectedly, Oliver flips into feral mode, and I have to watch out. At any moment a wide-eyed furbeast might rocket out from behind a corner and strike.
I live in constant fear.
I do my best to make sure Oliver knows who's boss. I constructed a really uncomfortable lion costume for him on Halloween and forced him into a photo shoot so I could gain more followers on Instagram. Sometimes I make him apply for retail jobs on Craigslist and laugh at his disappointment when he gets turned down. He really should know better. Cats aren't qualified to work at Old Navy.
Last week I bought a new Roomba (my second robot vacuum in as many years, which certainly puts me in the upper echelon of lazy Americans). I bought it because, deep down, I'm a 700 pound fat dude with a neckbeard who needs robots to do his housework, but also because if there's one thing I've learned from the Internet, it's that people love YouTube videos of cats riding Roombas.
When it arrived in the mail, I attempted to introduce Oliver to it. He wasn't pleased.
I set him down and he scampered off, his tail fluffed up in distress. "What good are you to me if you won't make me rich on YouTube!" I shouted at him as his disappeared into the bedroom.
I suppose I'll need to start slow at first to get Oliver acquainted to the new vacuum. Maybe if I cover it in deli meats he'll learn to love it. He will make me YouTube famous, one way or another. It's his duty as an American Shorthair.