When the baby arrived, our cat wasn’t happy. He sulked for days. He refused to eat, he refused to go outside. He spent a lot of the time hiding under the bed as we cooed over the cradle.
The cat had always been difficult. He was a big, mangy tom-cat. We put him in a little red collar with a tiny gold bell; it was like taming the wild. He only liked me and my partner. He was aggressive towards anyone else. He only ate certain brand of cat-food, and had to be fed at specific times, except for when he delivered bits of mice and rats to our doormat.
My partner thought it would be cute to get the cat a toy to play with when the baby arrived. It was a tiny knitted baby doll.
“Maybe it will soften him up,” my partner said with a smile. “He’s a nice cat really.” The cat ignored the doll completely, of course.
One day, the baby started crying and wouldn’t stop. We took turns soothing him. We checked his temperature, we even called Michael, our doctor friend. There was nothing medically wrong. Eventually the crying stopped, and our baby – our little ball of red-faced tears and giggles – went to sleep.
Exhausted, we collapsed on the sofa together, too tired to talk. We let a reality show wash over our minds. My partner squeezed my hand. Then we heard the bell, our cat’s bell as he came down the stairs.
“Aww,” I remember saying. “He’s finally playing with that stupid doll.”
Then we saw the blood.