She’s more of a dog person, but it was her idea
to come to the cat show. Neither of us
had ever been to one. Her favorites
are the huge Maine coons, which are basically dogs anyways.
They frighten me a little, but so does she.
I pet her hairand listen to her purr,
knowing she could take a swipe at me at any time
as we walk up and down the convention center
between the rows of tables covered with cages and cat carriers,
some simple and some insanely elaborate,
plastered with glamor shots and awards ribbons
and here and there a homemade sign announcing
KITTENS 4 SALE
It’s been nine months since my friend’s cat disappeared.
The other one wasted away and a few months later
she had to be put down. Poor little bag of bones,
I loved that kitty. She hasn’t gotten another cat.
I fantasize about showing up to her house
with a new kitten in tow., the way a friend of mine did
years ago when my cat died. I hadn’t thought I was ready
but there she was, with this little orange ball of fluff
peering out of her coat.
Why do we keep getting attached to things
we know are going to leave us?
I am a scratching post, a litter box.
My new companion and I stroll past the booths
with the pet photographer, the pet psychic, the vendors
selling feathers on sticks and felt bats. We laugh
at the ladies wrapped in head to toe leopard print,
at the girls wearing cat ears, at the guy in the shiny track suit
covered copper tigers. She picks out a carrot
stuffed with catnip
for my furry boy, so he won’t be too upset
that I cheated on him.
We watch the judges bestow the ratings,
baffled at why some cats are deemed more worthy
than others, the rules seem arbitrary and arcane.
I’m not going to grow attached to this person,
I tell myself. I am a cat.
Fickle, selfish, difficult to please.
And why not? Look at all these Ragdolls and Selkirk Rexes,
all these California Spangles and Aphrodite Giants.
They don’t need anyone, yet they are still lavished
with affection, groomed to within an inch of their lives,
worshipped like whiskered deities.
Of course, who can tell if they’re happy? They all look
slightly peeved. They all look like cats.
I glance over at her.
I’m not going to fall for you, I think, and she smiles
and without meaning to or wanting to,
against my feline nature,
without giving it a single thought
I smile back.