Cat Anxiety


Song: Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Soothe & Glow Seahorse
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Do you ever get an unlikely thought stuck in your head and eventually kind of freak out about it?

XochitlYo dawg, what up?

Xochitl is a woman of the streets. Well, she used to be a woman of the streets. She came to us as a pregnant stray and eventually had four kittens, all of them tabbies. Eek. (As you may know, we adopted out two of the tabbies, to delightful former co-workers of Ben in Oak Park, and kept the two who turned out to be kind of special.)

Life on the streets still holds a certain appeal for Xochitl. When we lived in Nederland, she darted out the door one night when Ben came home from work. To say I freaked the fuck out would be an understatement. I think it was on my birthday, too, but fortunately, time softens these stupid memories. I put signs up all over our (thankfully tiny) neighborhood and contacted every animal shelter in the area, including Boulder (as if she’d just, like, walk down Boulder Canyon and go to that Atlas Purveyors place everybody is always talking about [I’ve never been]). I wandered the streets with eyeliner-tear-stained eyes, calling her name, which we incorrectly pronounce kind of like SO-chee (we like to hand out Aztec and Danish names as if we’re Aztec or Danish, I guess). I found a website that tells you to find your lost cat by thinking like a cat, and if I recall correctly it had some kind of “What kind of cat are you?” quiz, where you pretend you’re your cat answering questions on Facebook and then find out that you’re a Samantha cat. Of course you are. You got knocked up by a tabby. This research resulted in a bowl of cat food being lovingly placed on our front porch.

These were the glory days in Nederland, where I didn’t have a job and spent my days going to the gym and the beer store and my nights talking shit on the internet for hours with a group of women who to this day are totes my internet BFFs. That meant I was home the next day when that crazy bitch showed up on the front porch to eat some delicious cat food. I didn’t want to scare her away, so I slowly opened the front door, totally trying to act all nonchalant and shit. She just walked right into the house and was all, “‘Sup.” (She still kind of talks like an annoying hipster who pretends she and Snoop Dogg knew each other back in the day, but her “back in the day” was in DeKalb, Illinois, so this is doubtful.)

She sometimes still thinks about making a run for it, even though she’s fattened up over the years and has lost any street cred she might’ve had many years ago. The weird thing is that she seems to like snow. She likes snow and sometimes she lurks by the front door when someone is coming in or going out.

This morning, I made my usual trip to the car to drop off all the luggage Soren and I need to get through our respective days. Before the door closed behind me, I thought hey, Xochitl didn’t get out, did she? I don’t even know why that popped into my head. I looked around and didn’t see her, so I piled the stuff into the car, came back in the house, performed the dog/peanut-butter/leaving-the-house ritual, picked up the bejacketed Soren, grabbed my handbag (I’m far too paranoid to leave this unattended in the car because someone might gank my debit card and get that $7), turned on the alarm, and then remembered I had this fleeting thought about Xochitl ducking out of the house to go on a crack-buying run or something. As the alarm counted down (it gives us plenty of time but always puts me a little on edge, like if I don’t get out of the house before the alarm is armed I’ll be trapped in here all day) and while carrying the world’s heaviest 25-pound toddler and a Tokidoki LeSportsac (yay!) bag full of random crap like 72 granola bars and the current issue of Sports Illustrated I insist on bringing to the gym even though I never read magazines at the gym, I half-assedly looked for Xochitl. I saw one tabby. I saw another tabby. I thought oh shit, we’re overrun with tabbies, and I left.

Cat anxiety doesn’t surface again until I’m sitting in my office hours later, and you know how that works? I start thinking hm, the cat didn’t get out, did she? No, she didn’t get out. There was no evidence of a cat escape — no paw prints in the light dusting of snow that was just beginning to accumulate this morning. Nothing. If this were the show Disappeared, we’d have to look elsewhere for evidence because there’s none here. Somehow, though, a random wisp of a thought can become full-on anxiety if you’re not careful. Holy shit the cat is totally gone and we live in the ‘hood and it’s going to be a bazillion degrees below zero tonight. You realize you’re being stupid, but as I am wont to say, that’s never stopped you before.

Tonight when I got home from the gym, the first thing that happened when I walked into the house, before I could even take off my ugly-ass boots (you totally get to wear ugly-ass boots when you live in Colorado — it’s a rule or something), there was Xochitl, waiting to eat the snow I tracked in from outside. “Xochitl!” I said. “I’m so happy to see you!”