I am beginning to sound like one of those crazy pet owners who can't stop talking about their little fooschnickens, oh their sweet baby, their widdle wuv monster. This cat really does make himself difficult not to discuss, but it has little to do with cute fluffiness.

My history with pets is a colourful one. The ones I have chosen tend to be fat, lame, ill, or psychologically unstable, so even though I preferred another cat at the humane society, I agreed to take the kitten that the Fiery One picked out. I wanted an at least somewhat normal pet for once in my life, and I thought that letting someone else choose it was the best way to go about it.

I now believe my pet curse to be contagious. Oskar, who appeared to be such a docile kitten at the pound, has anything but a retiring personality. He also has the inability to put cause and effect together, so he is anything but well-behaved. I tell him his mother drank.

Of course, as I write this, he is curled up in my arms before the keyboard, purring and butting my chin affectionately with his head. The bastard's learning to push the guilt angle. He's too foolish to realize that I'm too tired right now to giving a damn.

Three weekends ago, my parents stayed over, and after they left, Oskar took to mooning about outside the guest room door. He loves people and would probably love nothing more than to live with twenty more, so I think he was hoping that my parents were keepers. They were not. Neither were our guests Starcat and K the following weekend. Oskar would have you think that this is the saddest thing in his whole little kitty life to be left alone with the two of us again.

He would also like our neighbours to know that his stay with us is an emotionally agonizing holiday in the ninth circle of hell. He would like our neighbours to be keenly aware of this fact at 5:00 am every morning.

I'm starting to feel like I have a baby, and I am none too crazy about it. I get up at 5:00 am to the sounds of an utterly heartbroken feline, pick him up, pet him, induce purring, and bring him back to bed with us, where he cuddles for a good twenty seconds before stepping on the Fiery One's neck and then doubling back to launch himself off my face and into the hall.

I get up again at 5:05 am to more kitty boo-hooing, and he trots very happily ahead of me into the kitchen. I am usually hopeful at this point, because he seems truly satisfied at having fresh food. I go back to bed.

At 5:07 am, I hear Oskar setting himself up in the hallway again for another brokenhearted rendition of "Feelings". At this point, for both his physical safety and my sanity, I grab him, kiss the back of his head, and say that's it for you. I push him into his pet carrier, latch its door, and go back to bed.

Despite the fact that my cat's an asshole, I felt guilty about locking him in his pet carrier. He's just trying to express himself in the only way he knows how, I thought. After two weeks of this 5:00 am wailing, though, I started to think differently. There are people who talk incessantly and won't leave us alone, and we usually think they're jerks. We don't try to nurture their need to communicate. Still, though, I had this lingering guilt, but it was either sleep and sanity or wailing and premature kitty death. I chose sleep and sanity and threw him in the pet carrier.

Guilt over petty wrongs and I have a long history, and I know how to live with it; guilt over the murder of my own pet and I have no history whatsoever, and I would rather find out that God is real and suffer his wrath than hurt my awful cat.

Yesterday, I was sitting here at the computer answering a few e-mails when I heard a little shuffle behind me. I looked back over my shoulder and saw this:

oskar in his pet carrier

Oskar was in his pet carrier! Under his own steam! He was yawning and stretching and rolling around like it was his favourite spot to sleep. That's when I realized something. When I thought I was using the pet carrier as a last ditch punishment to shut him up, he thought he was crying for the thing he really wanted, which was for me to lock him up in the pet carrier. HE LIKES IT IN THERE.

He is the Biggest. Asshole. Ever.

So now, I still get to wake up at 5:00 am, and Oskar gets exactly what he wants. He didn't know that was what he wanted until I showed him two weeks ago, and that's extremely crazymaking to know that I helped to orchestrate what has turned into a regular morning ritual.

oskar in his pet carrier

All you cat knowledgeable people out there, help me with this. Do I continue to lock him up in his carrier every morning, or do I let him cry it out and learn to deal with his sad lack of forced daily imprisonment? Short of the old plastic-bag-over-the-head trick, is there another way to discourage yowling?

On top of this early morning crying, Oskar tried to seek out one of my nipples under the covers yesterday, which means that this baby analogy has gone too many steps too far for my liking. I'll consider any and all suggestions (except for those from people who think that I'm abusive, because, HELLO, THE JERK LIKES IT IN THERE).

"Black Cat" by Rainer Maria Rilke

I have both of the following volumes, and I love them:
The Book of Images and Uncollected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke