Dear Journal,

If I recall my first encounter with manipulation, my memory will pull me back to swinging on the Lafayette Elementary School playground during recess. A pendulum of children occupied every seat, but Patricia and Amanda felt entitled to a turn. Among the dozen of peers, the two popular yet spoiled puppeteers of young boys selected me.

“Cary,” their voices coquettishly sang, “can we have a turn on the swing?”

I explained that my turn had just begun as I swooshed back and forth, pumping my legs to fly higher. Yet even with my sincere apologies, the pair were unsatisfied with my response, immediately dropping the angelic masks they wore.

“You’re so stupid. Stupid head,” one of them barked.

“Yeah. I thought you were nice, but you’re just a jerk,” sneered the other.

And that’s how they scored my seat on the swing set, by attacking me with my known weakness: pleasing everybody to avoid conflict. Yes, I felt defeated when I plowed my feet into the sand to halt my ride. Yes, I felt ashamed when I stood aside and mumbled, “Here you go.” But at that age, I couldn’t be disliked, and they knew that. Everyone knew that.

Nowadays, I realize that if you want to manipulate someone’s feelings to get what you want, there are more civil ways of accomplishing it other than labeling your victim a “stupid head.” As a matter of fact, I may have willingly conceded my place on the swing if Patricia and Amanda had used The Cat Said method of manipulation instead of hurting my feelings – but don’t worry, I’m no longer bitter about what those wretched twats did to my innocence.

The Cat Said method is easy to master and can save your (presumably) turbulent relationship. All you need is at least one cat, one significant other (although, for you Mormons, I assume it is effective on more than one at a time – but this has yet to be tested),  and the alacrity to heartlessly beguile your naive loved one(s) into giving you want you want.

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Eye Love My Cat

October 31, 2016 — 5 Comments

Blind Murphy ruined my Sunday by attempting to gouge out my eyes.

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Shit Scissors: A Poem

October 14, 2016 — 7 Comments

A tool that is mostly used to cut through Christmas paper,

Scrapbooking or shearing hair or even stab a raper.

Scissors in my home, though, are assigned a different duty:

Trimming out the dookie caked around my kitty’s booty.

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Dear Journal,

While shopping for a more natural and eco-friendly litter, I discovered one that not only promised “outstanding odor control,” “99% dust free,” and “quick clumping & easy scooping,” it also proclaimed itself to be the best cat litter in the whole fucking world.

Gasconading about being superior to German engineering, ancient Chinese secrets, and Portuguese scientific know-how within the name of your product is so audacious, I immediately gave this Muscatine, Iowa-based company a chance without the due diligence that should have been involved when paying three times more than the average bag of cat litter. I was under the impression that I was getting what I was paying for. If I pay for a bag of litter that cost three times more than the average, I should expect a litter that works three times better than the average. Right?

I don’t know about you, Journal, but when I award a manufactured product with the title of “World’s Best,” I have to deem it a remarkable improvement over all of its competitors. A”world’s best” battery would last forever. A “world’s best” sleeping pill wouldn’t make me sleep eat or feel groggy in the morning. A”world’s best” toilet paper wouldn’t sprout dingleberries in the wake of its wipe. Well, after paying over $30 for a bag of World’s Best Cat Litter: Advanced Natural, this is what I got:

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Dear Journal,

I often worry that too many new cat owners have unrealistic assumptions when it comes to the expectations and responsibilities of sharing your home with one or more cats. Because of their romanticized preconception of cat behavior (and for that I blame cat food commercials that hire supernaturally unfinicky actors, cat litter ads that hire one of the few cats alive that actually cover their disgusting waste, and Sarah McLachlan), these stereotypically lonely yet good intentioned people quickly regret their decision. This can result in lashing out when the cat behaves as nature intended it to, returning the cat like an unwanted gift after Christmas, or re-homing the cat who thought it finally found its forever home.

And that’s why I’m here, to enlighten humans on the reality of cat care and cohabitation. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not encouraging you to reconsider cat rescue; I’m encouraging you to make an informed decision.

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Dear Journal,

Mom spent the week with my husband and me, and from this visit, I learned that a list of expectations for overnight house guests may be necessary. Not everyone has five cats confined in their home. Not everyone has two handicats. Not everyone is stupid like me, I guess.

The next time we have an overnight visitor, they should expect to see this list waiting on the pillow of the guest bedroom:

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Come to Depression

May 19, 2016 — 16 Comments

The following ad was paid for by the Depression Tourism Council.

It’s summer again, and many of you are planning your annual holiday away from work. If you’ve done this before, you know that getaways are exhausting and expensive. You can empty your wallet on an excursion to Hawaii, the Caribbean, or your Mom’s house, but have you considered Depression? It’s the most visited vacation spot that barely anyone talks about.

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Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today to mourn the sad and untimely passing of the apology.

The offspring of Greek parents (Apo and -Logia), the apology is survived by two sisters (Amends and Atonement), twin brothers (Remorse and Regret), two cousins (Excuse and Vindication), and one wicked step-mother (Repudiation).

Now that the apology is no more, the simple word combination of “I’m sorry” should be remembered for its powerful ability to disengage conflict, convey courtesy and respect, and promote civil behavior among family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, stranger, pets, and major appliances.

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Dear Journal,

Friday afternoon, I received news that pushed me to the verge of shitting my pants with joy:

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Ten years ago, if you were to tell me that by May 3, 2016, I would be sharing my home with five cats, I would have taken you as seriously as Bristol Palin speaking at an abstinence rally. Back then, animals belonged in the wild, on a farm, in a zoo, or on my plate. I was adamant that they did not belong inside of a human establishment because they were incapable of learning the basic rules of civilized habitation such as not shitting on the floor, putting your things away when you are done with them, and not shedding. Yet here I am in my 9th year of cohabiting with felines, and I’ve learned that it’s not so bad after all. As a matter of fact, in most cases, I find it generally more pleasant than human interaction.

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A dear friend recently asked,

Dear Reluctant Cat Owner,

My cat refuses to cover her shit. What do I do? Is he trying to murder me with the smell of his deuces?

I hope you can take solace in the fact that you are not alone, so much so that I believe there are support groups for victims of this issue. Uncovered cat poop is as common in our home as my use of profanity. It’s disheartening to come home from work on a fresh, spring evening only to wonder if your toilet backed up while you were away. And you can’t trust your friends because even though they say, “No. It smell’s fine in here,” when you ask them upon entrance, you know they’re talking about it behind your back. At least, that’s what I do.

This mainly occurs with our skittish cat, Reese. I have witnessed her bolting from the litter box like a race horse the moment her last brownie drops. I assume the plopping turd slapping the back of her leg like a riding crop startles her. For this, I can’t blame her because if I felt something tickling my cheeks while sitting on the toilet, I would bolt from the bathroom, too, hands flailing in the air, pants around my ankles, and butt unwiped.

Unfortunately, I have had no luck with deterring her unhygienic behavior. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Unfortunately, I have not attempted to deter her unhygienic behavior because I am too busy wiping cat vomit off the floors, vacuuming hairballs, and breaking up ultra-violent cat fights, but I have read that there may be many reasons why this occurs. And while I would not doubt that your cat is feeding off of your misery, there’s a chance this is something that may be alleviated with a little work.

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A New Chapter

April 6, 2016 — 29 Comments

Dear diareaders,

Welcome to a new chapter of The Reluctant Cat Owner’s Journal.

Due to a recent discovery, I feel that the tone and content of this website should change. So what are the changes?

  • The heading has been changed from “Dear Journal” to “Dear diareaders.” Diareaders is a portmanteau for “diary readers.” I chose it because I couldn’t do anything with “Journal Readers,” and “diareaders” made me giggle.
  • The tone of the content will be less abrasive towards any of my five cats (except maybe Elvis) and more supportive.

So why the change?

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Dear Journal,

I recently read an article that shared eight things I should never do to my cat. While it was a pleasant reminder of general cat care, we live in an age where companies have to label hair dryers with warnings so people won’t fry themselves with it in a running shower. Because common sense doesn’t seem to equate common practice, I feet it’s necessary to share eight more things that people should never do to their cats.

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Your Cat is Family

March 31, 2016 — 22 Comments

Dear Journal,

Nine years ago, Mr. Tiddles was left behind when his owners moved away. As a matter of fact, the rumor was that when his former owners left, the cat was stranded inside the empty apartment with nothing more than an open bag of cat food. When the new tenant moved in, she kicked him out. With nowhere to go, Mr. Tiddles wasted his days roaming the apartment complex’s parking lot, crouching under parked cars for shade and lapping up the dirty water that collected in the potholes.

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Print Book vs. E-Book

March 28, 2016 — 4 Comments

Dear Journal,

I recently read an article on the Online Bible of Gratuitous Opinion (or what others call The Huffington Post) about why “print books are better than E-books.” I’ve noticed this subject has been given attention on other heavy-traffic sites such as Mental Floss, Business Insider, and The Washington Post as well, and I wonder to myself every time, “Why should we care?”

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