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The Cat Nazi
“Daddy, can we pleaseeeeee have a cat?!” Cameron and I squealed as we ogled the Cute and Cuddly Cats Calendar that had just arrived in the mail.
“No,” grunted my dad, not even bothering to look up from his Sunday New York Times.
“You know, Rich, I think it’s time the girls did have a pet. It would be fun, but it would also teach them responsibility,” reasoned my mom as she flipped over a delicious-smelling bribery-inducing chocolate-chip pancake.
My dad glared up from his newspaper and harrumphed.
“I just want the girls to have good childhood memories,” smiled my mom brightly, patting us lovingly on our heads.
My sister and I threw my dad winning smiles.
“You know what, Lori, so do I,” my dad said, his eyes glinting suspiciously. Cameron and I didn’t notice. We were too busy holding our breaths.
“Hey,” my dad continued. “If you’re so keen on getting a cat, why don’t you take ’em down to PetSmart right now? Look, it’s Free Cat Week,” he declared, slapping his finger down on the newspaper ad.
Cameron and I leaned over to peer at it, practically spilling our milk we were hyperventilating so much.
“Find your furry friend in our bundle of abandoned critters,” it said.
With a gleam in her eye, my mom grinned and jutted up her chin.
“Get your coats, girls—we’re going to PetSmart to get you a new kitten.” She smiled sweetly at my dad, “Maybe two!”
My dad groaned.
“Not to mention all the accessories,” she grinned.
“Even a pink Juicy Couture purse to carry it in?” Cameron cried.
“Yes!” my mom crowed as we all swept out the door.
As I closed the door behind me, I thought I heard a girl-like shriek coming from the kitchen.
We swept into PetSmart, my mom wielding her credit card as Cameron and I bee-lined for the cats.
“Don’t forget to pick out any cat you want, girls!” exclaimed my mom cheerfully, her ear pressed to her cell phone.
I wondered if my dad was listening on the other end of the phone or something.
We skipped around to the back of the store where the pets were usually on display in their little windows. To our surprise, not only were the cubby holes jam-packed with all sorts of yowling cats, but there was also an entire pen full of tiny sleeping fur-balls.
But they weren’t alone.
That was the first time we saw her—the Cat Nazi. She was sitting primly in her little fold-out metal chair with her legs crossed and her pen clicking rhythmically against one silver hoop earring, her quizzical eyebrows raised nearly to her hairline. Her hair fell into sharp curls around her face, which was marked by stern wrinkles under her cheekbones and her marble green eyes. As soon as she saw us, she smoothed her black turtleneck and long gray skirt, then clacked towards us.
“May I help you, ladies?” she inquired in a smooth voice full of secrets.
“We want to buy a cat!” cried Cameron before I had a chance to open my mouth.
“Hmm…is your mother here with you today?” she asked sternly.
“Yes, but she told us to pick out the cat we liked and come find her when we were done,” I said, trying to edge around the Cat Nazi to get to the cats.
“But choosing a kitten is like choosing a husband. You only choose one once, then you’re chained to him for life,” she said ominously, glaring at us.
Cameron and I fell silent.
“Uh, my soccer practice starts in an hour…” Cameron croaked, breaking the silence.
“In an hour, you may at least be able to select the litter of kittens you want to choose from. You’ll most likely have to come back tomorrow. You are looking to take a kitten home, aren’t you?” asked the Cat Nazi.
Cameron and I glanced at the window full of adult cats. They were all fat and nearly hairless.
“Sure,” we said in unison.
The one good thing I can say about the Cat Nazi was that when she was around the cats, she became very kind. She helped us sort through various litters, and finally brought us to a litter of three kittens that had fallen from a roof when they were born. They had miraculously survived and managed to find their way into the arms of the PetSmart Team of Rescuers. There was a black kitten, a calico kitten, and a gray kitten all pressed up next to each other, curled up cozily in a corner.
It took us a good fifteen minutes to choose the gray kitten. We played with each of the cats for a little while, then narrowed it down to the calico and the gray. Finally, I held the gray kitten up to my face and saw its little face gleaming back at mine. It reminded me exactly of the Cute and Cuddly Cats Calendar that had inspired me to ask for a kitten in the first place. Cameron and I picked her up and ran out of the playroom to show my mom. That was probably the first of our mistakes.
“Girls! Girls! Girls!” the Cat Nazi shrieked, her voice as high-pitched and irritating as a drill sergeant’s whistle.
We stopped dead, cradling the cat between our arms. Then, we looked at each other, unsure of what we had done. Maybe there was an earthquake we had missed or something? But the Cat Nazi’s face was screwed up into a tight snarl of disgust, and it was directed at us. Then her voice came like bullets, deadly quiet.
“Can you please explain to me why you are RUNNING with a kitten?!”
My mom had just walked over.
“What’s going on here?” she asked innocently, smiling at us.
“Your…daughters,” the Cat Nazi began (looking like she would have rather used a word like ‘monsters’) “…are running with one of our newest kittens!”
“It was more like jogging,” Cameron muttered under her breath.
I chuckled a little.
“YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY!?” the Cat Nazi cried in apparent agony.
“No, no, no, of course not!” we exclaimed in unison.
The Cat Nazi took a deep breath. She looked like the veins in her forehead were about to burst and her eyes were definitely steaming.
“These kittens have been abused. They have suffered pains that you could never even imagine. When you run with a kitten, you are jouncing its cardiac sphincter! You can’t even comprehend the agony this kitten is facing now because of your stupidity. And then you laughed. You’re lucky I’m even giving you a second chance!” the Nazi harrumphed.
After a few moments of a very awkward silence, my mom spoke up.
“So you’re…going to give us a second chance? Because we would really like to adopt this kitten.”
“Step into my office,” said the Cat Nazi with a sweep of her arms.
“We never officially met as I was too busy attempting to control your reckless daughters. My name is Mrs. Worth,” said the Cat Nazi formally, holding out a pale hand.
I could visually see my mother choking back a laugh as Cameron kicked my mom under the table.
“My name is Mrs. M, but you can just call me Lori,” my mom offered brightly.
The Cat Nazi sniffed.
“I have been working with cats for over 16 years, and am a current owner of over 26 cats and seven kittens. I breed over eight different varieties of cats. The bulk of my cats live with me in my Beverly Hills mansion. What makes you think that you deserve one of my cats?”
That was the last straw. No more Mrs. Nice-Mom.
“Generally, potential cat-rescuers are treated with respect because they are saving a kitten or a cat that would have been put down. I think the fact that we’re rescuing one of your cats is qualification enough,” my mom said stiffly.
“True,” said Mrs. Withers calmly. “However, we currently have a waiting list of interested parties. If you don’t adopt the gray kitten, there are certainly plenty of other people who will.”
If it hadn’t been for our pleading looks, I think my mother would have stood up and left right then.
“I apologize,” my mother croaked. “What do we need to do?”
Mrs. Worth wheeled her office chair around to grab a clip board from one of her various file-cabinets.
“You can start by filling this out,” she said, plopping the clipboard onto her desk.
The more my mom scribbled away, the more her face crumpled up in confusion. Mrs. Worth had excused herself to help another family.
“This is insanity!” my mom exclaimed. “We’re going to have to fax her a copy of OUR medical records and a summary of our past pet history. It’s not like I carry that information around with me…”
When Mrs. Worth returned, she collected the clip board from our mother and informed us that we would need to schedule an in-home inspection with one of her apprentices to ensure the kitten would be living in a “proper home environment.”
A week later, a Miss Harriet marched through our door with a briefcase in her hand and a clipboard clutched to her chest.
“It’s Miss Future-Worth,” Cameron whispered through the banister as we stared at her four-inch long unibrow.
Miss Harriet’s beady black eyes gobbled everything she looked at, and her thin blood-red lips curled with disgust as she took in our home.
“Interesting choice of doorknob,” she muttered as she swept into our home.
“Uh…thanks?” my dad said, gazing at her dubiously.
“That wasn’t a compliment,” she said shortly. “Doorknobs are a key indication of either poor or strong safety standards in a home. Your doorknobs are rusted brass. And Mrs. Worth’s doorknobs aren’t handles like yours are. Hers are shiny gold knobs, not… levers,” she said, shuddering.
“Why does it matter? Do you want to start inspecting our home?” asked my dad.
“It matters because doorknobs are symbolic. What do you think rusted brass means compared to gold? Think about that.”
She strode in. No one argued with her.
“You don’t have child-proof locks. Your kitten could get into the 409 and die of asphyxiation. How would you feel knowing you had killed your cat?”
Cameron started to cry.
My mom narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth, but Miss Molikin cut her off.
“—ahem. That was a rhetorical question.”
Harriet swept into the guest bathroom, then opened the medicine cabinet and shrieked. There was a series of “what’s?!” and “crazy critters!” until Miss Harriet found her voice.
“If your kitten jumped onto the toilet, and from the toilet jumped onto the sink, and then somehow managed to pry open your toxic chemical cabinet, she would surely get into this bottle of…Tylenol,” she spat. “What were you thinking?!”
My dad choked and started to answer, but Harriet cut him off.
“—shh. That was a rhetorical question.”
The next room was the living room.
“Where are your cat-trees?” she asked. “Your children have toys and a trampoline, yet you expect your cat to have nothing to play with. How could you deprive your future cat in this way?”
No one tried to answer. I think we were all hoping it was a rhetorical question.
A few awkward moments later, she asked again.
“Where are your cat trees?!” she cried.
“We don’t have any,” said my dad through gritted teeth. “We were kind of hoping to get the cat first.” He was starting to get rather red in the face, and my mom was starting to look worried.
“Excuse me, sir, but please don’t raise your voice. At Free Cat Week, all we’re trying to do is ensure the maximum safety of the kitten. These kittens have been subject to abuse and—”
“WE GET IT! JUST GIVE US THE DAMN CAT!” 8-year-old Cameron roared.
The room fell silent. Everyone just stared.
Finally, Harriet scribbled something that looked like ‘violent and dangerous children’ onto her clipboard and signed it with a flourish.
“Well,” she said stiffly. “My work here is done. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
And with that, she stormed out the door.
We heard nothing from the Cat Nazi or her apprentice for over a month. Cameron and I were starting to wonder if we were ever going to get this cat.
“She said ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ What else is that supposed to mean?!” I argued with Cameron one day.
“But she must have forgotten. She wouldn’t have put it off this long. She knows we’re dying to have that kitten,” Cameron wailed, staring at the Miss June gray kitten in Cute and Cuddly Cats Calendar.
“Okay, number one is this: I’m sure she does know we’re dying to have the cat, but she doesn’t care. She’s evil, that’s what. Number two is this: she’s not a kitten anymore! By now, she’s probably some yowling old hairless cat,” I said, scowling.
“You know what, I’m calling,” cried Cameron, dropping the calendar and marching out of the room with quivering conviction. It was funny, because right when she got to the phone, it rang.
“Hello?” Cameron chirped. “Oh hi, Mrs. Worth.”
“What does she want?” I mouthed.
Cameron just ignored me.
“Today? Okay, that will work. Thank you, Mrs. Worth! Alright, see you later. Buh-bye.”
Cameron slammed the phone into the receiver and looked up at me with bright eyes.
“We’re having lunch with Mrs. Worth today so she can give us the cat!”
Another girl-like shriek erupted from the living room where my dad was reading.
We rang the doorbell of Mrs. Worth's’ Beverly Hills home, excitement bursting through our veins like fireworks. WE WERE FINALLY GOING TO BRING HOME OUR CAT! The door creaked open.
A horrifying vision greeted us. Imagine your grandma stuffed into Halle Berry’s black leather cat suit.
“Don’t mind the costume girls. I have a friend coming over after you.”
This was the kind of stuff we didn’t want to know.
Mrs. Worth let us into her house. It had been a little bit of an overstatement to say that the house was a mansion. It was more like a hut.
As we walked into the dining room, I caught a glimpse of the living room, or shall we say, cat room. Let’s just say it was a jungle of cat trees with felines of all shapes and sizes lounging in their carpet branches.
“Oh dear, I almost forgot…Lunchtime!” cried Mrs. Worth, flinging open the door of a giant bird cage hanging from the ceiling. About fifty or more tropical birds fluttered out. My mom covered Cameron’s eyes as the cats leapt into the air to snatch the birds with their vicious fangs. I wasn’t so sure I wanted a kitten anymore.
“Let’s make this quick,” said the Cat Nazi briskly, sweeping us into the kitchen.
Over split-pea soup, the Cat Nazi told us about each and every one of her cats until our eyes glazed over.
“So,” my mother finally cooed.
The Cat Nazi raised her head in a hawk-like fashion to meet my mother’s eyes.
“Yes?” she asked, her spoon half raised to her lips.
“It’s been over a month now,” my mom said sternly. “We’ve complied with all your demands, and we would like to bring our cat home.”
The Cat Nazi sighed.
“I’m just not sure if I’m ready to leave my little precious in the hands of perfect strangers!”
Cameron and I started to sniffle into our soup.
“Well, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? YOU’RE RUNNING a CAT-ADOPTION CENTER!” my mom roared.
Looking supremely offended, Mrs. Worth took another deep breath, then disappeared into the cat room. When she returned, she was holding a cage with our little gray kitten.
Cameron reached for the handle, but Mrs. Worth slapped her hand. Then she produced a clipboard and pen, which she handed to my mother.
“Sign this,” she said snootily.
“This says you can visit us at any time to check up on our cat…forever,” my mom said in a strained voice.
“And don’t forget the vaccinations! Especially for Alligator Wart Disease…that one is particularly nasty,” the Cat Nazi said, glaring at my mother.
My mom gulped as she looked at the price of all the vaccinations. This was definitely not a free cat.
But as my mom watched us cooing over the kitten, our eyes full of light, she nodded and hastily signed the papers.
“Alright girls, let’s hit the road,” my mother said, gesturing to us in desperation.
Happy at last, Cameron and I stroked the kitten on the ride home. It was a beautiful shade of gray, so we decided to name her Grayce.
Grayce was a great pet, and the whole family loved her for about two weeks …until she ran away.
I just hope the Cat Nazi doesn’t visit.