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By John Dennis

I have a confession to make. I am a man with a cat.

That’s right. I’m a heterosexual man. I have sex with women. Lots of them. They enjoy it, and so do I. And I own cat. He’s black and white, and his name is Little Jimmy Feldman. And I love him. So there.

I’m tired of having to defend myself. I’m tired of feeling humiliated – no, tired of being made to feel humiliated. By you, society. So humiliated that I actually lied to you. I am not a man with a cat. I am a man with two cats. Yes, that’s right – Little Jimmy Feldman gets lonely when I’m not at home, so I bought him a little kitty friend. Her name is Ruth, she’s a calico, and she has a fat furry belly that I like to stroke.

Deal with it.

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What is it, I want to know, that all you people find so offensive about a man with a cat? Are you threatened because I don’t need an animal who slavishly attends to my every need and whim, like a dog would? Does it bother you that I appreciate an animal who toilet trains itself, doesn’t need to be walked four times a day, and has no desire to ever eat its own turds, or those of others? Because dogs do all of those things, and apparently you find them highly appealing. Are you horrified that I like the feel of a cat’s soft, purring throat against my bare skin? That is soothes and relaxes me after a long hard day?

What’s the problem? Is that not “masculine” enough for you?

Well, I have two very masculine roommates – yes, I’m 34 years old and I have roommates, and so what? – and they too are men with cats. They’re in denial, but they’re men with cats. True, they claim it irritates them that our furniture is covered with cat hair, and that car hair gets on their clothes and their eyes and their mouths and even their own hair – which is actually kind of profound, when you think about it. They say they don’t like the smell of fresh cat food in the kitchen or that Ruth vomits yellow-green vomit that kind of looks like an over-boiled sausage or that Little Jimmy Feldman has horrible halitosis and poop on his anus which is exposed and in your face, like, all the time. They say they don’t like all that, but they’re liars.

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Take Brick, for example. We call Brick “Brick” because he’s built like a brick. He played football in college, he enjoys eating Papa John’s pizza, and he says “bro” a lot. Remember how the Smurfs would use the word “Smurf” – as a noun, adjective, verb, and/or present adjectival participle? Well, that’s how Brick uses the word “bro.” Apropos of nothing at all, Brick enjoys emailing his friends photos of his beefy right hand, its index, middle and pinky fingers fully extended. This is commonly referred to as The Shocker, and for Brick it is not merely a sexual act but a philosophy of life. Brick says he hates the cats, and that he’d be happy if they moved away to Iowa or maybe just died.

But I know he loves them, because I’ve seen him when he doesn’t know I’m looking, and he picks up the fat cat Ruth and he’ll hold her in his muscular arms against his chiseled bare chest – because he’s usually just out of the shower when I see him like this – and he whispers into Ruth’s ear, “They said no one could hold you like this. But I’m proving them wrong.” And he’s right, because Ruth is a very persnickety cat, colicky some might say, and she hates it when anyone tries to hold her. Anyone other than Brick, that is.

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Or my other roommate, Dave. He said he got really angry when I went out of town for a week and asked him to feed my cats, and he did, and then Little Jimmy Feldman took a shit on his bed. Yes, when he called me and told me my cat had shat on his bed he shouted and used profanity, but I could hear the smile peeking through his voice because deep down he knew as much as I did that it was actually pretty funny. And then, the next day, after Dave bought brand-new sheets and a comforter and Little Jimmy Feldman took a shit on those too, and Dave called me up and said “this fucking situation” was going “to change” and I needed “to take responsibility for my life,” I knew what he really meant was “hey, it’s okay” and “the truest love is like a hard steel tempered by patience and understanding.” So I forgave him.

So did Little Jimmy Feldman, after he shat on my bed too.

In fact, being men with cats really came in handy the last time we all went out. Brick knew a Lakers Girl – yes, that really does happen to guys named Brick – and the three of us went out with her and her two friends for a night of casual dating. At first things weren’t going well. No laughter, no chemistry or real conversation – just stupid small talk about “the weather” and “where we lived” and “their lives.” But then Dave brought up the cats. Man, that loosened them up. I told the story of Little Jimmy Feldman and his multiple poopings, and they were laughing and laughing and one of them kept waving her hand limp-wristedly in front of her face like she was from the South in the 17th century and she had a case of “the vapors.”

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Brick went out with the Lakers Girl again last night. He did not get laid, but he probably will next time. Even better, the Lakers Girl said we should all go out again, and that her two friends are interested in me and Dave. Actually, that’s a lie. She said that her and Brick should go out on a double-date with her friend and Dave, and that her other friend didn’t really like me.

Thanks a bunch for bringing up my cats to a bunch of hot chicks, Dave. I hope it all works out for you!

Yeah, so sometimes I wonder if I’d be better off without my cats. I think about the guy who gave me my cats, a guy who devoted his entire life to rescuing cats off the streets, and how he lived in a studio apartment alone. Except he wasn’t alone, because he lived with 72 cats. I think about how I’ll always remember that number, because it’s the same number of virgins that martyrs are promised in Heaven in Islam. And then I think maybe I don’t want to be that guy.

Maybe I’d be better off not worrying about feeding them all the time. Maybe I’d be better off not having to scoop ossified diarrhea out of the kitty litter every morning. Maybe I’d be better off not making out with a girl on my bed and then having her stop to pull something out of her mouth, and that something is a cat hair. And then she says, “You have cats?” And she scrunches up her face and makes a sound like I’m giving her the Shocker, except I’ll never give her the Shocker because she’s already out the door. Maybe I’d be better off.

But then I remember my cats and their purring and their warm soft fuzziness and how much I love it. I remember how I always laugh at those stupid pictures of crazy kittens that say asinine things like “Me Can Haz Cheezeburger,” even though I try really hard not to. I remember how I made a commitment to take care of Little Jimmy Feldman and Ruth forever, and how my parents already refused to take them for me several times.

And I confess. I confess to you, to all of you – I am a man with cats, and I am proud, dammit. And nothing you or Brick or Dave say or do will ever, ever change that fact.

And then I wonder – maybe I should even get another cat? A third cat? A tabby who I name Mr. Witherspoon, and who loves me just like my other two cats do, forever?

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And then I decide, no, I won’t do that. Because even I’m not that much of a pussy.

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*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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