My cat started barking last Wednesday. At first, my wife and I thought it was rather unique. We invited our neighbors over, they thought it was freaky.
“Honey,” I said, jumping off the sofa, “look at Binky!”
“Holy Shit,” Mary said, watching Binky lift her left hind leg, beginning to piss on the side of her litter box.
“Mary,” I asked, “Binky hasn’t gotten into any of your Vicodin…has she?”
“Shut up.” Mary finished cleaning up Binky’s piss “ya know what…I am missing a few pills…I thought it was you...guess it was BINKY!”
“I think we need to take her to the vet.” I said, looking for Binky, who had vanished once again.
“It could be a virus.” I left Mary’s side, and continued my search for Binky, “Binnnnky, where are you?”
The next day, I brought Binky to the Vet’s. Mary didn’t want to come. She told me that it was foolish to spend all the money on a vet visit, because Binky was only experiencing a temporary identity crisis. When she first told me that, I almost believed her. My opinion changed when I had to stop Binky from humping my ankle the previous night, which I never told Mary about.
I carried Binky inside the Vets office. Once inside she began barking, like a rabid dog. The receptionist looked at me.
“Sir, I think you may need to wait outside with your dog.”
“Um, actually,” I looked down at the animal carrier in my right hand “it’s my cat. That’s why I’m here.”
“Okay,” the receptionist said, with a tone suggesting that I might be the one in need of a doctor.
Binky continued to bark, and so I didn’t have to wait long. The vet entered the exam room, and Binky stopped barking.
“How long has your cat been barking?”
“Since last Wednesday, so a week now. I think.”
“Well,” the vet said, feeling Binky’s stomach on the exam table, “she looks and feels like a cat.”
No shit, I said to myself, beginning to think Mary was right about not taking Binky to the vet. I continued to watch the vet, poke and prod, open binky’s mouth, examining her teeth. I tried not to think about Binky’s future, living as a dog, being trapped physically in a cat’s body.
“I’m afraid,” the vet said, “there’s nothing wrong with your cat. She wants to be a dog.”
My heart sank, and would have drowned, if Binky had not looked at me, wagging her little tail. She was panting, with her pink, thumb-sized tongue rapidly gliding upward and downward from her mouth.
“Well,” I asked the vet “is there something I can do about her shitting on the carpets?”
“Buy a leash, and take her for walks.”
While driving home, I was concerned about Mary. Something told me she was not going to tolerate raising a cat who wanted to be a dog. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about the whole thing myself. When I exited the highway, Binky started barking.
“What is it girl?” I put my finger through the front gate of the animal carrier. I was then struck with an idea. I opened the carrier. Binky ran out, and planted her back paws on my lap, with her front paws on the bottom lip of the drivers-side window. I opened the window. Binky LOVED it! She stuck her head out, catching the breeze with her open mouth. As I continued to drive home, I continuously checked the rearview mirror, making sure Alfred Hitchcock was not sitting in the backseat.
When I pulled in the driveway, Mary was walking out the front door. She was carrying Binky’s litter box. When she saw Binky, with her head hanging out the window, she looked away, shaking her own head, like a bitch.
I opened the car door, and Binky ran out. My first instinct was to run after her. But Binky simply ran up to Mary, who had just placed the litter box in the trash can. Mary stood still, looking down at Binky, lying on her back, waiting for Mary’s hand to rub her stomach.
“Mary,” I kissed her “why did you throw out the litter box?”
“In case you haven’t noticed we’ve been picking up shit all over the damn house. What did the vet say?” Mary asked, ignoring Binky, still vying for attention beside her feet.
“Let’s go inside.” I picked up Binky.
“Buy a LEASH!” Mary slammed the refrigerator door.
“I think he was joking.”
“Really,” Mary gulped the last of her Martini, “I think SOMEONE needs to go out.” She slammed her martini glass down on the counter, while staring blankly into the living room. I looked in the direction of Mary’s eyesight, and saw Binky sitting by the front door, wagging her tail. I should have bought a leash.
Later that night, after I had taken Binky outside to do her business, I joined Mary in bed.
“I hope you didn’t take her out front, for all the neighbors to see” Mary said, flipping a page of People Magazine.
“No, Mary” I slipped in bed beside her “I took her in the backyard. No one saw.”
“Thank God.” Mary said, tossing her magazine on the floor.
“Mary” I said, rolling on my left side to face her, “we have raised Binky from a tiny kitten. So what if she wants to be a dog now?”
“SO WHAT?” Mary sat up with violence. “SO WHAT?”
Attempting to find the right answer I hesitated with a reply. Finally, without realizing, I found the perfect one. The essence of my response may have been altered, had I known the resulting catastrophe which ultimately ensued.
“Yeah, so what,” I said.
“You know WHAT! I’m not going to live with a cat shitting on the floor, pissing freely around our house! We bought a cat. NOT A DOG!” Mary left the bedroom, slamming the door.
Thank god we didn’t have any kids. I thought, and somehow, I fell asleep.
I woke to Binky barking at the bedroom door the next morning. At first, I missed the litter box, but then I felt the surge of parental responsibility. When I opened the door, Binky began jumping up and down, licking my ankle.
“Hey, Girl…wanna go for a walk!”
Her body language answered yes as she jumped up and down, forming perfect circles.
When I came back inside from walking Binky, in the backyard, I expected to see Mary in the kitchen. I thought she had slept in the guest bedroom. I decided to wait, pouring a cup of coffee, before I attempted to wake her.
Thirty minuets had past, and I looked toward the staircase, leading to the guest bedroom. Binky, sitting on the floor beside me, looked in the same direction.
Climbing the stairs, fearing the silence, I walked toward the door. I lifted my fist, about to knock, but my knuckles recoiled. I then placed my ear upon the door. I heard nothing.
“Mary?” I said, after I summoned the fortitude to knock on the door.
“What?” Mary asked, but not really, it was more like a “you’re still here” response.
“Can I come in?”
Mary was lying on the bed, looking coma-like, staring up at the ceiling. I walked toward the bed and sat beside her.
“It’s me or the cat-dog” Mary said, stabbing the ceiling with her eyes.
“Are you serious?”
Binky, who had followed me upstairs, jumped on the bed and attempted to lick Mary’s face.
“Get that THING away from me.” She shoved Binky away, causing her to fall on the floor. Binky ran, whimpering, from the room. Mary rolled on her side, facing her back towards me.
Without speaking to each other, Mary and I readied ourselves for work. Binky was still hiding in the house somewhere. I was not able to find her before leaving for work.
While sitting in my cubical, at work, I went on Google. I typed: FELINE RE-TRAINING SCHOOLS. I tried to find a local school, with not too much religious rhetoric. I found what I thought was the perfect school: Feline Identity Management. PERFECT. It was less than ten miles from my house.
When I arrived home, Mary was waiting for me outside.
“What?” I asked, attempting to hug her, but she pushed me away.
“Binky needs to go for a walk.” She said, looking at her feet. Mary never told me that Binky pissed on her ankle, shortly before my arrival.
“Mary, I found a school for Binky, they can make her want to be a cat again!”
“Whatever” Mary said, walking away from me, toward the side entrance of the house “just keep Binky in the backyard, I can’t deal with the neighbors.”
Two years have passed since my divorce from Mary. The feline school was a disaster. Binky was actually expelled, because her bark was actually just as loud as her bite.
Binky and I still go for walks, but not in the backyard, because I bought her a leash. Proudly, we both walk the streets of our neighborhood, and Binky asserts her chosen identity by lifting her hind leg, pissing on the neighbor’s mailbox post. Our neighbor’s, my neighbors rather, have once again visited, enjoying Binky, my cat-dog. Mary still hasn’t called or written. I think she bought another cat.