Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Psycho Cat Attack Cringe

I bet you haven’t heard of too many people who have been attacked by a psychotic domestic cat. Well, hello.

It’s the reason, understandably, that I cringe when I see any feline. I more than cringe…I cross streets, hold my breath, remain a hostage in my car in my driveway if a neighborhood cat is slinking around ready to pounce. In my phobic mind, any cat is ready to strike. Me.

My attacker was a Blue Russian female cat named Mischa. How cute. It was 1984 or 1985, an era when it was standard practice for parents to allow twelve-year-olds to babysit for their young kids. They also drove their sitters home after enjoying three bottles of wine over dinner. I managed my own babysitting industry back then. I was booked solid on Friday and Saturdays at my rate of $2. per hour, swerving home in the passenger seats of my clients’ cars at midnight.

I put one of my little charges, seven-year-old Noelle, to sleep in her room and turned on the yodeling record that she faded off to each and every night. Her father was Swiss. The sound of yodeling is now a separate, but related, phobia for me.

“Turn the record over, Tracy!” she called from her bedroom when the yodellee-yodello needle bumped up against the center of the record.

I went and flipped it over on her Fisher-Price stereo. In the hallway on my way back to the TV, Mischa lurked, hissing. It’s a scary sound. I decided to shimmy on past Mischa, quickening my steps to clear her. That’s when the crazy Russian jumped on my back and added her horrible cat-fighting shrieks to the sounds of the Swiss yodelers. I ran around the first floor of that house like a lunatic, my bad perm standing on end, as she jumped at my back, swiping and screeching while the yodelers yodeled on. I flew up the stairs and found refuge in the bathroom across the landing, slamming the door behind me. Mischa continued to hurl herself up against the other side of the closed door—a total nutcase cat.

Now here’s the next cringe—and the reason why most modern parents don’t hire twelve- year- olds to care for the safety of their children. Noelle was up out of her bed downstairs, crying and confused.

“What’s happening?” she sounded absolutely miserable at the bottom of the staircase. I could barely hear her over my own heartbeat.

“Can you pick up your cat and put her in the basement?” I called, instructing the seven-year-old to handle the violent enemy.

“Ok,” she sniffled and did as told, luckily without injury. I wasn’t worth two cents that night.

My cat phobia was born.

Years later I visited Key West on vacation. One of the points of interest is the estate of Ernest Hemingway. We’d thought we’d check it out on a rainy day. As we approached the gated southern villa, I saw cats, many cats, milling about on the lawn. I stopped abruptly by the man in the ticket booth.

“Are there a lot of cats here?” I asked, panic-stricken.

The booth attendant, a tired old Queen, looked at me with the frustration reserved for extremely stupid tourists.

“Do you have allergies?” he asked with a sigh. “The home is known for its six-toed cats. They’re all about the property,” he obviously had this interchange all day with allergic patrons.

“No, I’m just really afraid of cats.”

He pushed his eyeglasses down on his nose to examine me and sighed again.

“Well, Mam, then this is NOT the place for you.”



  1. You have brought back the memory of a 16 year old me, barricaded in the guest room of my Aunt's house with my mother and brother all night because we were all terified of her nasty Himalayan. Honeysuckle. Such a delightful name for demon spawn.

  2. Elyse...that sounds like the makings of a terrific horror flick!

  3. Cats are useless, smelly demons from Hell.

  4. Saw you over on Quinn Cumming's blog and came on over for a visit...! Love your blog.

    I share your cat fear, maybe not to the same extent, but I know that if there is any amount of cat dander anywhere in my vicinity, even if it has piggy-backed onto someone now in a cat-free environment, that I will be spending the night with Mr. Benadryl and Mrs. Nebulizer. Thank goodness I married a fellow cat allergy suffer.