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A barometer for relationships

“I am sending you cat photos”

I don’t know how I became a cat person. Maybe it was one of those gradual things - a lolcat here, a Grumpy Cat there, and before I know it I’m retweeting Maru videos in my spare time and hoarding animated cat GIFs like they were currency for an impending post-apocalyptic future - but I’m pretty sure I’ve always had an affinity for pets and small animals. I’ve always liked my friends’ dogs, I like petting the neighbourhood cat, and I emit little ‘squee’ noises whenever I visit the latest batch of kittens that Melissa and her partner are looking after for the local animal shelter. Hell, my profile picture has a red panda in it!

Whatever the path I took to get here, I like cats, and Mariana, the person on the other end of this Facebook conversation, knows that too. She has her own cat whom she has talked about several times. One of those times I was coming back from a dinner that was set up to try lift the bad mood I was in, and when our paths crossed we stopped to talk and she thought to try cheer me up by showing me pictures of McIvor, her cat. It helped a little because one of the pictures made McIvor look a little stupid, which in turn made me laugh.

So on this Guy Fawkes evening, with fireworks exploding at random intervals in the sky over the city, Mariana sent me some more photos of McIvor as he hid underneath the bed (which most animals did that night in an attempt to get away from the loud noises).

One of the photos was pretty cute; the other, however, didn’t do McIvor any favours - it reminded me too much of Grumpy Cat, and I said as much back to her.

“Kitty is often grumpy - you need to meet him”

And I took the bait.

We organized a time for me to come over and before I knew it, I had organized an appointment to visit a cat. I haven’t had to set a time to meet any animal since the red panda encounter, but that was because it required the exchange of money for tickets and a time slot; this time I was just visiting a friend’s cat! What had become of me?

A week later, I was making my way to visit McIvor (yes, I didn’t think of it was a visit to his owner, but a visit to the cat) and I started getting a bit nervous. Mariana had said that McIvor may like me, but then started listing a whole bunch of other people McIvor didn’t like, namely her ex’s and her friends’ ex’s. I joked that McIvor was kind of like a barometer for her relationship choices, and she replied that there have been some exceptions, but it didn’t really make me feel any less nervous as I walked up the winding path to her house.

That’s when it hit me: I wasn’t here to visit a cat with terrible luck in the photogenic department, I was here to be judged.

Various scenarios started playing out in my head of what might happen if McIvor and I didn’t get along: my face would get scratched, I’d be kicked-out of the house, or maybe I wouldn’t get kicked-out immediately but rather it would be super awkward until the moment I let myself out, and then I would be defriended on Facebook - it always ended with being defriended on Facebook; I don’t know why that was the worst fate I could think of.

I knocked on the door, Mariana’s flatmate let me in, and as I made my way to the kitchen where she was cooking herself dinner, I spotted McIvor underneath a chair, watching me as I crossed the room. ”Well, moment of truth,” I thought to myself. So I crouched down to cat level, held my hand out to McIvor, and he walked up to my hand and started licking it.

“Awww, he likes you.” said Mariana, standing in the doorway to the kitchen, looking down at her cat and I.

I felt So Much Relief. Nobody was getting defriended today.