It came to me a year ago, and looking back on it now, I suppose it showed up at the appropriate time. It was just a few weeks before Halloween – and a few weeks after Tamara Thorne and I began digging into the witchcraft elements of our novel Grandma’s Rack – that the creature of darkness – like a punishment from the terrible gods we were researching – made itself known to me.
At first, the beast merely called to me from some bushes outside. I’d hear it from my window, crying, bemoaning the increasing cold – no doubt attempting to guilt me into the shamefaced and spineless quivering mass of man-pudding that I am now. Valiantly – and mistakenly – I thought if I ignored it, perhaps the thing would tire of me and go away. But this was not to be.
For soon, it then began following me. The creature moved silently and – appearing as if from nowhere – it was quick on my heels, stalking me each day as I power-walked from the car to the front door, my eyes fixed forward – for I knew that once eye contact was established, I would surely be unable to resist the powers of its dark and inescapable charms. And for several days, this method worked. I was winning! But then one night, I let down my guard.
As I said, it was October – that month which bounces back and forth like an indecisive lover between nights that are too warm and nights that are too cold. On this night, October had chosen the warmth for its companion, and I – with a foolish and displaced sense of security – cracked a screen-less window to let some cool air in. The cool air, however, was not the only thing that crept inside that fateful night.
Within moments, the creature was in my window, pinning me in place with its wide, golden gaze. Our eyes locked. For several seconds, we were statue-still, then, very slowly, and with great trepidation, I approached.
With no warning, the creature lunged from the window sill, and then suddenly, somehow, it was in my arms, meowing at me as if to say, “You stupid, stupid man! Don’t you know you are my human?” and rubbing its silky black head into the crook of my neck. When she raised a paw to touch my cheek, the night-cooled padding of her little cat-hands warmed my heart forever, and I knew then that I had fallen prey to an all-too-common problem.
Whereas many men in my position might choose to simply say they “got a new cat,” and quickly change subjects in hopes of avoiding the disapproving glances and/or emasculating commentary of their fellows, I’ve decided to break the long-suffering silence and call this situation by its more honest – and less cutesy – name: I am the victim of Unexpected Feline Fatherhood.
What is Unexpected Feline Fatherhood, you ask? Unexpected Feline Fatherhood, or UFF, is defined as the infliction of affection and/or forcible joint inhabitation of any feline personage upon any adult male member of human origin. UFF is real, and there is no shame in it. In fact, statistics show that every 2.7 seconds in America alone, a man in falls victim to UFF. And if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.
Anyway, I was suddenly an Unexpected Feline Father – whether I liked it or not. I accepted the fate that had befallen me with relative ease, naming my new pet Pawpurrazzi for her incessant, stalker-like ways, and though she rarely comes when called, I assume she doesn’t mind the name.
She was no more than four months old when she violated me and my personal space, and though I was originally reluctant, it is the nature of UFF that I slowly began feeling affection for my feline captor. In fact, we have since bonded over much; a spaying, two very stressful episodes in which she ran away, the swallowing – and passing – of some near-fatal Christmas tree decoration, a few worming debacles, several trips to the vet for shots, and the writing and editing of one and a half novels, as well as the ongoing writing, editing, and publication of several installments of a serialized novel. Perched on my shoulder for several hours each day, she is as much my writing companion as Tamara Thorne is, and to any oblivious onlooker, we would appear at ease with each other, companionable, even. But make no mistake: I am a victim. A victim of Unexpected Feline Fatherhood.
In the year since being victimized, I’ve learned a few things about the nature of Unexpected Feline Fatherhood which I will now list in hopes that it might be of some assistance to unsuspecting future UFF victims everywhere.
Don’t Let Unexpected Feline Fatherhood Sneak Up On You….
By Alistair Cross
- Stay Alert. Whenever you’re walking to the car, getting the mail, or moving the garbage cans, keep your wits about you and observe your surroundings. Take a moment to glance around you. Do you see any evidence of feline intrusion such as flickering tails from concealed areas or little kitty prints on your windshield? Is there any meowing coming from a nearby bush? Your first defense against Unexpected Feline Fatherhood is awareness of it.
- Determine Whether or Not You Are Actually Being Stalked. If you do see a kitty, try crossing to the other side of the street or sidewalk. Does the kitty cross, too? Speed up or slow down. Does the kitty do the same? Never assume that just because a kitty seems unaware of you that he or she isn’t following you. Always trust your feelings.
- Use Positive Self-Talk. If you suspect you are being selected as an Unexpected Feline Father, the last thing you need to do is lose your cool. Tell yourself: It’s okay. I do not need a cat. I do not need a cat. Or: He must belong to someone. It is not my problem. Or: I’m sure he can take care of himself – cats are very resourceful. Things like this often help.
- Never Look a Potential Feline Captor in the Eye. Direct eye contact communicates interest and acknowledgment yes, but more importantly, it makes you, the human, vulnerable to the cuteness of the feline face, a condition that will cloud your judgment.
- Finally, If You Do Fall Prey to UFF, Wear Your Title With Pride. Worst case scenario, you can’t resist the kitty and you end up taking the poor thing in. So what! Not just anyone is Unexpected Feline Father material, and you should be proud. If your friends are giving you a hard time, it’s only because they’re jealous. Be a proud Feline Father, Unexpected or Otherwise! After all, it’s not as if you have any say in the matter anyway, now is it…