I did not know John, the kitten recently and very briefly housed with D Magazine editor Tim Rogers and his family, not far from me in Far East Dallas. But I feel qualified to speak on the matter (“Why I Hate This Cat,” which you can read at this link), as I am a beautiful cat who lives with another member of the magazine’s editorial team. No, the fact that I am beautiful is not entirely relevant here. But I know that Mr. Rogers once tried to end a National Magazine Award-winning story with the subject doing pushups in a bar/arcade, so who’s to say what is and isn’t relevant?
First of all, I knew that the Rogerses didn’t plan to keep that kitten as soon as I heard the name: John. That’s barely a dog’s name. Cats need names that you can hear a 5-year-old girl say very cutely. It doesn’t matter if you have a 5-year-old girl. There has to be that kind of playfulness to it, you know? A little sing-songy. Here’s a quick guide to naming a cat: whatever you pick, say it with a lisp. Did it make you smile? There you go. Good name.
John? They might as well have named the poor bastard Cat.
Hold on, I need to take a nap.
[three hours later]
But whatever, John could have gotten past the name. And I think she was trying. My human told me about the incident that Mr. Rogers made such a big deal about. Apparently, John scurried across Mr. Rogers’ laptop while he was looking at a page proof, and if the copy editor hadn’t caught it, the “Best of Big D” issue would have coined the word “ahffffffffffffffvggfdt.” I hear that and another word comes to mind: love.
Cats are born knowing they are a breath away from ending up in a sack in a river—I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true—so they try to attach themselves to the alpha as quickly as possible. (It should please Mr. Rogers to know that someone saw him as the alpha in that house.) One way they do this is making friends with the boss’s favorite objects. If you’re a reader, they rub their faces on your book. If you tweet a lot, they lie on your phone. And if you’re on your computer 12 to 14 hours a day, guess where your cat wants to be?
Wait a second. I need to take a bath.
[one hour and 25 minutes later]
I think Mr. Rogers would have warmed up to the idea if he had given it more than two weeks. From what I understand, he’s kind of a cat himself: hard to love but rewarding if you make the effort. And then endlessly, insanely frustrating. I admit that, before I really thought about it, I considered him more of a dog. Like, he very clearly wants and needs to be liked. I’ve heard him on Microsoft Teams calls a few times, and he always interrupts the first word he says with a little laugh, whether what he’s about to say is funny or not. My human rolls his eyes a lot, but I think it’s sweet.
Do you hear that meowing outside?
[two hours later]
But, honestly, he’s an only child of divorced parents, so he probably just has abandonment issues.
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