Cats are essential for people with nerves, it seems to me. Please hop aboard my train of thought.

I’m fairly certain that everyone has a deeply irrational fear of something, in fact, I am so certain of this that I would assume anyone who says they don’t have an irrational fear is kidding themselves. That’s just how sure I am.

For a while, I had a fear of my basement, not my current basement, but my old basement. It started when the kids insisted it was haunted. An entire mythology had developed that not only explained how my mudroom plans were thwarted (it was also haunted) but the lore began to give me heebie jeebies when I was in the basement alone. It was a little bit fun and embarrassing, like all good things.

Somehow, I have never been afraid of my current basement, which is arguably creepier than the old one. It is older than the old basement and it has mouse nests, bad DIY remnants, ceiling tiles permanently askew, and potentially explosive appliances. This basement has had a couple of recent infestations, and it is host to the occasional unexplained thump.

I should probably write real estate listings.

The thumps do not worry me, because I have a cat. Having a mouse hunter in the house seemed like the best reason to host a cat, but having a creature to blame for the random thumps is priceless. Even if it isn’t the cat, it’s easy to hold her responsible for the noises.

It’s also convenient to accuse her when finding rifled drawers and table top items dumped on the floor and even though she cannot possibly fit there, she keeps all the windowsills clear of pesky photos and tchotchkes.

Because I have a big black cat, I do not worry about tarantulas. I see them for a second, but I can instantly label them fur tumbleweeds and move along with my day. If a real tarantula shows up, it will have no challenges, at least until she catches it.

The disadvantages to having a cat are large, of course. Box of poop, vet bills and random retching sessions are just the worst of them.

Some people have told me they like to have cats to look at them. My girl is not graceful, and while she is pretty from a distance, she is weirdly dusty and clammy up close. She drools and slurps because of a malformation of her face.


She actually smells good, which is a bonus that is totally unexpected given her other attributes. She smells like snickerdoodles and there is no explanation for it. She does not bake.

So, on balance, she is overwhelmingly a positive influence, or at least she was.

This brings me back to irrational fears. An even more intractable fear is a thing I can only call bed stalking. You know it. It’s cousins with the monster under the bed worry. What I call bed stalking is when you imagine or experience an entity watching you sleep. Horror stories rarely give me a turn any more, but the bedside baloney will still do the trick. The greatest example is Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” hand holding scene.

That didn’t happen here. Don’t worry.

What does happen, when Boo is especially upset in her schedule, is bad enough. She may pounce on me in the night, from any angle. Because of this potential horrifying intrusion, I don’t sleep as well I as might.

Last night, I woke at 2 a.m. with the conviction that something wasn’t quite right. A shape stirred just below the edge of my bed, and even with the ingrained worry of goblin surveillance, I relaxed in the certainty that it was Boo. I mean, there’s no reason to jump to conclusions, I guess, but I didn’t verify the intruder. The next time I woke up, her whole head was in view, just staring, blankly.

I guess the goblin can also be a cat?

Anyway, on balance it’s still better to have her, but only just.


Defective Pets, LLC

Huzzah!! We have discovered litter that doesn’t end up on my desk!! The cure may be having placed the litter box as far from my desk as possible while still indoors. Who is to say? Is it a function of time, space or quantum physics? Does she now lack the gumption to make her paws sufficiently sticky? She won’t say.


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