We have this toy in the house called the Mad Cat. It's perfect for us, because we have a real life Mad Cat who is midnight black and named for Lizzie Borden. (All our pets are named for serial killers. Yes, I realize Lizzie Borden doesn't quite fit the category because she was accused of killing her parents just the one time, and yes, I realize my obsession with serial killers, forensic investigation and criminal profiling just might not be the healthiest environment for my children. Put another dollar in the Therapy Jar.)
I got Lizzie as a kitten from some people in town just after I moved out here and right from the start, Lizzie had, ahem, issues. All I ever want from a cat is that they curl up in my lap once in awhile and sleep on my feet at night to keep them warm. But Lizzie has never been the friendliest of cats. She has an anger problem. It's not that she doesn't let you pet her. It's just that you never know when the Time To Pet The Cat is officially over. So the scenario goes like this:
  • I lay down in bed.
  • Cat jumps up on bed.
  • Cat purrs so loudly it makes me wonder if a helicopter is approaching from a distance.
  • I look out window. Nope, no helicopter, just cat.
  • Cat crawls into lap and begins to knead my thigh.
  • Cat inserts head into the space under my hand.
  • Cat moves head back and forth in a desperate "pet me, I'm starved for human contact" bid
  • I begin to pet cat.
  • Purring becomes louder.
  • Cat is in heaven; helps me pet her by pushing head further into hand.
  • Cat is now petting self - rolling head around and purring in bliss.
  • An errant finger flits past an imaginary line just in front of cat's shoulder blades, disturbing two hairs on her back.
  • Cat immediately jumps up, hisses, and pounces on my forearm with every claw splayed and bites a holes through my index finger, then runs off before the neurons even fire all the way up to my brain, leaving me to nurse six or seven bloody puncture marks and wonder what the hell just happened.

Monica once admitted to me after a year or so of working together that when I'd first started my job, she and another colleague secretly wondered whether I was a cutter because I came to work sporting a new scratch on my arms every other day.

Then, there was the OCD. Because I am too cheap to buy a cat toy, To amuse myself, I used to tear up small pieces of newspaper, ball them up and throw them for her. She would chase after each tossed piece just once and then stand at attention, beckoning me to make another. By the time I left for work each morning, my apartment would be littered with little wads of paper. But never fear, because by the time I got home from work, every wad would be neatly stacked in the corner of the living room. I never once saw her pick them up and move them. I also did not have a roommate. So I either had a recurrent, very fussy burglar, or Lizzie had been organizing.
She also demonstrates clear Borderline Personality Disorder tendencies. She is not a fan of the people food. She knows this. We all know this. Despite the full disclosure, when any of us is in the kitchen making a meal, she circles underfoot, crying and begging to be fed until one of us is finally duped into offering her a scrap of ham or a pinch of tuna by ceremoniously placing it on the floor at her feet. Invariably, she will put her head down, give two condescending sniffs and then walk away, leaving the ort for me to later step on. She does not want the food, she simply wants to be offered the food.

She grooms herself with the careful attention of a drunk homeless man.

She is an indoor cat, but delights in skittering past the feet of some unsuspe
cting visitor, unskilled in the ways of kicking the cat back in the house, down the three steps to the front door, not to go enjoy the great outdoors, but to gorge herself on grass and then come back in to throw it all up on the floor.

Most of the time, you are not allowed to pet her with your hands, but if you rub your bare feet together, she will come running from wherever she is in the house. You can then pet her with your feet as long as you want with no physical repercussions.

The Mad Cat (the stuffed one, I mean) is a little like that old Tickle Me Elmo doll. It's plush and inviting. When you squeeze it, it meows. "Meow, meow, meow, meow." But then if you squeeze it again, it screams, "MEOW, GRRRRRRR, RARRWR, HISS, HISSSSSSSSSS!" and the whole thing shakes and scares the bageezis out of you. It's hilarious. It was the perfect toy for the Dormouse, who at 18 months, gave these responses to the following questions:

What does a doggy say? "Woof!"
What does a cow say? "Moo!"What does a kitty cat say? "Hisssssssssssssssss!"

An interesting thing about Lizzie though, is how really good she is with little children. Now with The Caterpillar and back when The Dormouse was really little, she never ran out of patience with the babies. She never seems to be bothered by The Caterpillar's crying and I've never seen her even remotely look like she might hurt either one of them when they were too young to know to stay away. However, now that The Dormouse is bigger and has a little more capacity to understand the mantra of the house, Do Not Taunt The Cat, she is held to the same stringent standards the rest of us are: Beware. The Dormouse has learned to deal with this and if the cat is lying in the middle of the living room floor and The Dormouse wants to pass through the room, she'll make a wide birth around the cat, hugging the wall with the precision of Gus (woops) Gil Grissom entering a crime scene.
The thing is, I love Lizzie. She predates The KingofHearts in my life. She predates the children. (I shouldn't have to point that out, but I feel the need to do so.) She was my companion through some really bad dates, an inCREDibly crappy job, and a lot of loneliness. It's funny how you can get so attached to something so acerbic. The KingofHearts could probably relate.
This is an impromptu lullaby I caught The Dormouse singing to The Caterpillar the other night:
Lullaby and good night.
Lullaby and good night lit-tle bay-bee

Don't cry lit-tle bay-bee
I love you lit-tle bay-bee

Your mommy's here

Your sister's here

Your daddy's here

And your cat... [cesura]

[continues singing] She'll sometimes scraaaaatch you.