As the first of what will likely be many weeks stuck inside my home winds to a close, I am slowly but surely acclimating to this mildly uncomfortable new reality. Human contact is a thing of the past, but one day, eventually, we will be free again to engage in unrestrained sexual frottage with the partner of our choice. We will eat at restaurants or go to bars and tend to the various thickets of hair that have grown unencumbered for weeks. For the long-term, I have pinned the idea of getting a wax again to my vision board as something nice to look forward to when this is over, but in the short-term, there are other, more pressing matters. Namely, I would like to know if there’s a way to teach the boy cat that lives in my house about social distancing.
Being confined to your house for however long this shit is going to ride flattens time in a way that is disarming and is a real mindfuck for everyone involved. The cats, of which there are two, one good and one bad, have adjusted to the new schedule by continuing their existence unabated. Daisy, the good one, walks slowly from room to room, looking for food and then sleeping when she tires of her quest. I imagine I will be chasing her love for the rest of our time together. The boy cat, Crusty, however, is a different story.
His owner lives in my house and tries her best to provide him with the succor he seeks, but he rejects her advances often and runs straight to me, a woman who is not here for his shit and would really rather not. During the day, when I am doing work from what used to be his 3 p.m. nap spot, he presses his body against mine and breathes heavily until slumber, impeding my ability to use my left hand. Our interactions during the day are fine, for the most part, but when night falls, my personal space is invaded in a way that feels, I’m sorry to say, problematic at best.
After I’ve “commuted home” and changed out of my day pants to my twilight pants, I eat whatever slop is left in the fridge and settle down on the sofa to read a book, stare at the Roku screensaver, look at my phone, or stare at the wall. During this time, which I consider to be “me” time, I am comfortable and am able to reasonably pretend like I am alone. The cat senses his opportunity and strikes almost immediately, mewling incessantly until he finally figures out how to jump up on the couch and sit square on my chest, wheezing emphatically. He licked me on the arm the other night and a rash of welts appeared. His breath smells of death. I love him because I have to, but I hate him because I don’t want to have to get into an argument with an animal every time I need to get up from the sofa to use the bathroom or stare at the contents of my fridge for five minutes.
Trying to just live my life as if he was not there is difficult because removing myself from the couch means that he digs his claws into whatever soft surface is available and refuses to budge. I feel bad, but also, I don’t? He hasn’t paid rent, has no plans of doing so, and licks his underbelly so vigorously that it can be heard from other rooms. Social distancing is a concept that is new for everyone, and we are all making adjustments to our new lives as indoor cats, but every night I beg for relief. Please just let me be.
Daisy, on the other hand, was born for this moment. Squint at the pile of black fur on the couch and you will see disdain. She’s been practicing for this moment her whole life and she is ready.