My cat and I have been together for fourteen years now. We met by accident. A lover of mine had adopted a new dog, and the cat that she owned did not get along with the dog. Dog or cat? The decision was easy since when we slept together (my lover and I) the cat snuggled up by my side all night long. It was love at first sight for both of us. The cat was a black cat and at that time black was my favorite color. Everything I wore was black. I dyed my hair black and I even wore black eye liner. I was in love with the color black and the only thing missing from my life was a black cat. The next morning when my lover asked me if I wanted to take the cat home with me, I immediately knew my answer- “I do,” I said. And just like that- I became an animal husband.
The first few years of being an animal husband were great. I decided to make my cat an indoor cat since I was agoraphobic. I named her Monk- because obviously she would be spending the rest of her life indoors. Together we spent our days curled up on a couch reading books or staring at various black insects on the ceiling. We ate all of our meals together and even bathed together. When I would take a shower Monk would jump right in without warning and rub up against my ankles and feet as if she was trying to get the dirt out from between my toes. At night we would sleep side by side in my single bed and after her dank kitty smell started to get to me I bought her an expensive floral kitty perfume for her third birthday. Life was good the first few years of being an animal husband but like all good things- everything changed when I was forced to get a job.
Monk was in her fourth year of life when I really remember noticing the shift. I had to be gone most nights since I got a job waiting tables at a rather expensive restaurant. My shift went from five o’clock until one a.m and I would often stay late after work drinking with my co-workers. I would get home around two a.m and I noticed that Monk would be sleeping on the couch and not pay any attention to me. This was peculiar behavior since it was a routine for the majority of our relationship that whenever I came home Monk would be waiting by the door for me. Now, I would walk in without a greeting, shower alone, put on my pajamas alone, and get into bed alone. Monk refused to sleep with me and as a result I started to spend more and more nights alone- pussyless.
I don’t know if Monk was becoming jealous because I was spending more time away from home or if she was really hurt because she felt neglected. Our ability to communicate was stuck in a quagmire and I often times felt like she was blaming me for things and emotions that were her own damn fault! In those days the only way that I could get her to forgive me was by bringing home a can of her favorite salmon and turkey soft food. The moment she heard the can being cracked she would jump out of her self imposed depression like cannonball- and run up against my ankles purring and meowing like a cat who had fully forgiven. We would spend the rest of the night together reading poetry out loud and petting and then go to sleep like an animal and a human who were newly in love. It was that easy then.
But like all relationships, it gets harder the longer you do it. It has only been during the course of the past two or three years that being an animal husband has been like suffering through a sentence in hell. Monk and I have been through a lot together (she has had to deal with my chronic anxiety and agoraphobia and I have had to spend tons of money dealing with her gum disease and chronic itch obsession), but it seems as if the past two or three years all we do is fight. Fight, fight, fight, fight. Whenever we are together something will happen that will cause us to hate each other. I don’t really know what the cause of all this anger and resentment is (other than a lack of communication) but I have a hunch that it has to do with her low self confidence. For a long time I have noticed that Monk lacks the familiar confidence that most other cats have. She gets scared easily and often sits on the couch in a state of depression without doing anything about it. She sulks and pities herself like a child. I know that Monk is getting older- but I have become frustrated with my cat because I don’t see her doing anything to change her negative behaviors. It is almost as if she has no control over her feline emotions. And because of this psychological disorder the man who has been nothing but a good husband to her, who has cleaned her kitty liter daily and never bought any other cat a can of soft food for the entire duration of our fourteen year relationship- is suffering.
Living day in and day out with the tension and constriction that is created from being involved in an unhealthy relationship is becoming too much. I have noticed that I have been drinking a lot more and I am starting to get chronic chest pains and palpitations. I also have breathing difficulties and have been contemplating suicide as a means of escape from our fucked up relationship. Every time we fight it is as if a heavy weight is being placed upon my chest and I am being suffocated from the inside out. I have dreams about taking Monk by her tail and repeatedly slamming her against the wall like my friends would do to cats in junior high. Sometimes when we fight I get so angry that I refuse to feed her. I will starve her for days and right when it seems as if she is to weak to even meow- guilt will overcome me and I will go out and buy her a large sized can of her favorite soft food. Our differences will be reconciled but the next day something else will come up and we will be back in the shit that we had barely climbed out of. I am at a point where I do not know what to do.
There are not a lot of resources available to an animal husband. It is not like there are marriage and family counselors that work with couples in which one partner is a human and the other is a cat. I have thought about taking Monk to the pound. I have also considered turning Monk into an outdoor cat which would give us a little more time apart. I know that one of thee most healing things in all relationships is space. I love my sweet cat- I desperately do, but for some odd reason we just do not get a long anymore. The way she scratches, itches, licks, meows and breaths bugs me. She has bad breath and vomits on my carpet and now in her older age she is beginning to become incontinent. She has peed upon one of my favorite jackets and on the leather couch that I spent two years saving up for. Our relationship is just no longer the ecstasy of what it was the first few years that we were together. Things are getting out of control and the stress has become intolerable for the both of us. I am afraid that if steps are not soon taken to rectify the problems in our relationship one of us will end up killing the other. I don’t want it to get that bad- so I just got to figure out what the hell I am going to do.