July 20, 2019

On Asylums

“Around this time her neighbor sent an email.

The email said her cat had entered his home several times that week. The cat had sprayed his closet, clothes, shoes, rugs, and furniture. He had also sprayed the exterior door in the back of his house, the patio area, plants, etcetera.

It’s getting really bad, the neighbor wrote.

The daughter took the cat to the vet. Had a testicle failed to descend when he was first neutered? But that was not the issue. A certain number of cats who are fixed continue to spray, and the cat was, regrettably, a member of this minority faction. The daughter suspected this was the reason the cat had come to be abandoned by his original owners in the first place. Like how most cats find their people, he had come to her by a circuitous route: A friend had gotten him off Craigslist with a goal of recruiting a mouser to deal with the vermin problem in the house where he was living. Instead, the cat hid, still as a statue, behind the toilet. When the friend moved and couldn’t take the cat, she agreed to shelter the cat temporarily. The cat never left.

She lived with the cat in two studio apartments before moving in with her partner, who had a yard. When the cat was let loose in the yard, his true self emerged: He was a skilful hunter, slaying rats, mice, and birds, too many to count, even a squirrel. But the yard also seemed to have triggered his territorial sense: He started spraying too.”

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