A Beast in the Slaughterhouse

How’s that for a blog title? A Beast in the Slaughterhouse. That would be a great title for a short story. Or a novel. Why the title? I wrote the sentence towards the end of this blog. And I liked it. That’s why. Anyway, to the blog:

The highlights of this past year are something of a blur. One endless Zoom meeting that blurs together. The background noise of my two children playing (and fighting) is reminiscent of a slaughterhouse.

One of the non-virtual things that happened to us this year, as I’ve written about previously, is that we bought a cat. Well, a kitten.

Little Theo was drugged when we brought him home in October. Or November. I don’t remember. The blur. I do remember that Theo was on drugs when we first got him because of a surgery at the rescue. He was so docile that first night. So calm. He slept on Katie’s lap at dinner.

“Are you sure he’s alive?” I asked her.

“He’s precious.”

Real precious. The drugs wore off. And his energy returned. The orange cat grew comfortable in our home. And he aged. He’s a whopping 8-months old now. An adolescent in cat years. He’s a maniac. A terror. And he’s really done a number on his sister Yara.


Poor Yara is our fourteen-year old Norwegian Forest Cat. Fourteen years! Man, time flies when you’re having fun. Or getting old. Or regardless of what you’re doing. That’s the way time works.

Yara’s been to the vet exactly once in her life. It was a prerequisite for adopting Theo. I took her to a local animal clinic here in State College just before we adopted Theo. They had curbside service. Because of a pandemic. I sat in my car while the vet checked Yara over. The animal doctor Gave me a call when the exam was finished.

“Yara looks great, Sam,” the vet told me. “Do you know there’s a lump on her stomach?”

I sure did. I figured it was cancer. I told the vet as much.

“Do you want me to do a quick test to find out for sure?” the vet asked.

“Why not?”

It wasn’t cancer. It was a lump of milk. I won’t bore you with the details. Because I don’t understand the details. But somehow one of Yara’s glands has created a little lump of cat milk near her tummy. Strange.

Anyway, Yara returned from the vet. Her reward? A little brother. Yara is a terrified creature. Always has been. So it has not gone well with Theo. They hiss and fight and scratch. And Theo is a little aggressive. A little dominant. He stalks Yara around the house as though she were prey on the savannah. Then he pounces. Wraps his arms around her neck, climbs onto her back, and bites. Yara does not like this. Much hissing occurs. The sound just adds to the atmosphere around the Tanner home these days. Like I said, it’s a real slaughterhouse around here.


Do you know how I woke up this morning? Theo climbed onto our bed. Tried to eat my toes. And my ankles. I thought I was being stabbed. He leapt to Katie’s exposed feet after I hid mine under the covers. Theo sunk his teeth into her flesh. My sweet wife howled with rage and tossed him from the bed. Theo is relentless. His attacks continued until I woke up and fed him. And he made sure to bat Yara across the face with his paw as he walked to his food dish. What a beast.

Did I just write a blog about a cat? I sure did. So sue me. What else am I going to write about these days? It’s just me, my wife, and my two sons around here. And our two cats. That’s the energy I’m attuned with. Because attuning to energy in a Zoom meeting is a challenge. And virtual interactions are fine for getting work done. They’re less helpful, in my view, for allowing people to really connect with each other. So I’ve been connecting with the living things in my immediate presence. And that include a little orange cat that is growing up to become something of a terror. I’m thinking about sending him to military school. Teach him some discipline.

Samson would be crushed if our new cat left. My youngest son has grown fond of Theo. Samson picks Theo up and carries him around the house. He has a Theo voice so that our cat can talk to us. Samson’s Theo voice is loud and high-pitched. Like an animal meeting their demise. A beast in a slaughterhouse.

See. I got there with the title. Kind of. Anyway, that title is a real doozy. Better than a blog about a cat, for sure.

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