The Master

The Master ★★★★½

If you follow my twitter feed, you know I have a complicated relationship with my cats. I rescued them from a shelter two years ago, they'd been on the street a few weeks as tiny kittens, and I'm still not sure how we feel about one another.

The bigger one, Pete, is problematic in typical cat ways: he tries to lay on me when I'm reading, knocking the book out of my hand; he kneads my stomach leaving small scratches; he knocks books off of shelves. But Andre, his brother with the broken tail, is a different story.

Andre howls for no discernible reason. He doesn't mew, he howls, loudly, while wandering around the apartment. If I try and play with him he ignores me, and if I try and give him affection or attention he winces away as if I may hurt him. (I won't). The howling will start abruptly and end abruptly, at varying times of day or night. There's no pattern, and I can't appease him.

If he's not howling through the night, he's destroying things. And not books or papers or my couch. He's knocked or torn down almost every piece of art I have on my walls, framed or no. This has left gaping holes where nails were bent and pulled, or exposed chunks of wall where the paint has been ripped away. Don't even get me started on the blinds; there's no way I'll ever get my security deposit back.

And sometimes he's come very close to hurting himself. On more then 1 or 5 occasions, he's stuck his claws in an electrical outlet and I've had to free him. I've imagined scenarios where he actually gets electrocuted and I try and help him anyways and we both die, leaving Petey to run the place, which is probably all he wants anyways.

But the bad cat is also the most loyal cat. He's always next to me on the couch and sleeps between my knees at night, every night, when he deigns to bend to my schedule. If I give Pete too much attention, Andre attacks him, or me. He's bitten the hand that feeds him on a regular basis, and drawn blood more than once.

No amount of positive reinforcement or water in the face or doses of cold shoulder have altered his behavior, but it's to the point where I'm afraid to have people over. I don't want them bit, or annoyed, but mostly I don't want them to see the shambles I live in because I can't keep up with the cats' destruction. I've worried about my future, wondering if I can ever find a man who will tolerate these cats the way I (usually) do.

But there are moments when I think "I can't take it anymore, I have to get rid of them". And then I remind myself no, you adopted them, you took them off the streets, they are Your Responsibility. They are Your Companions.

They're mine to fix and care for.

But I've repeatedly asked myself the same question everyone who has ever tried to tame a feral animal has asked themselves: who the fuck is in charge here anyways.

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