My beloved and I are happy to announce that on Wednesday we welcomed another member into our family. Yes, our oldest daughter (O.D.) and son-in-law have done their filial duty and given us . . . a grand-dog. His name is Gambit, and he is half Labrador retriever and half shar-pei. He is three months old. Already I am worried about him and wonder if I need to call PETA or somebody.
It’s not that the kids won’t be great puppy-parents; it’s that the O.D. owns a cat that is the most vicious, antisocial, evil, spiteful, malicious, venomous, mean, nasty, cruel, wicked, irrational, malevolent and belligerent animal east of a grizzly bear. In fact, in a contest with a grizzly, I’m putting my money on the cat . . . from a distance.
This cat is one of a pair that the O.D. adopted several years ago through the Richmond SPCA. Her sister is calm, loving, gentle and happy to suck up to people in case they have a treat or possibly a green bean on their persons. Bastet, on the other hand, has a “Fetch me a sardine, peon!” attitude that erupts into violence about every other day.
Naming cats after deities is a dubious practice. You can name a dog “Zeus,” or “Thor,” or whatever, and he will still act like a Fido. He can’t help it. The dog has no delusions about his place in the universe – that is the secret message that thunder communicates to dogs: “This is more than you can handle; go get in the closet.”
But cats? Name a cat after a goddess, even a minor Egyptian one that nobody’s bothered with for 4,600 years, and she immediately assumes that you have acknowledged what she knew to be true all along. Thunder is just the atmosphere announcing her greatness. She was born to queen.
Our own dog, the Wowpup, is terrified of this cat, and will not go into a room if she’s in there. If he’s absolutely forced to, he will slink around the walls, tail between his legs, avoiding all eye contact.
He feels this way because the very first time Bastet was at our house, she stalked out of her cat carrier like she owned the place and swatted him straight across the nose. He had not been doing anything at all, just standing around being a Fido and wondering where the Denta-Chews were, and suddenly six pounds of feline fury erupts in his face. He stayed under the bed until Christmas Eve that year, which made sleeping a little awkward.
Last week, Bastet and her sister, Nefret (hey, I didn’t name them) had to have a visit to the vet. (The animal shelter that housed Gambit requires proof of health for all other animals living in the house. It does not, unfortunately, require owners to prove that their other pets are SANE and FRIENDLY.)
Neffie loved the vet. She snuggled up to him. She lounged on his arm and let him listen to her heart, weigh her and all the rest of it. She didn’t flinch when she got her rabies booster. Afterward, she crunched a treat and wandered around the exam room, examining things.
Bastet, meanwhile, was in her crate spitting and hissing. When the vet, apparently temporarily insane himself, reached in for her, she rolled over on her back and latched onto him with all four clawed feet plus teeth. He went out for Band-Aids and a towel, which she also shredded. They finally had to take the lid off the carrier and scruff her.
After the quickest exam in the history of veterinary medicine, the vet dropped her, still hissing and spitting, into the carrier and slammed the lid on. He assured her owners that she wasn’t the worst cat he’d ever seen, but then he paused and said, “Well, she’s in the top 10.”
And the O.D. and son-in-law are going to bring an innocent puppy into her world. It doesn’t matter that he’s bigger than she is; the Wowpup outweighs her by about 800 percent. Doesn’t matter. She is the queen, the alpha animal, the absolute ruler of the household plus the yard.
I worry that my Beloved and I are going to find ourselves in that category of noble humans who wind up raising their grandpuppies because conditions at home are too dangerous.