Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Murder, Cats and Friendship

Five years ago, my family experienced what can only be described as…well, a double homicide.  During a visit, my sister’s dog killed both of my daughter’s hamsters, not by eating them exactly, but by using his teeth to play with them until they were dead.  And though the event traumatized my children (to this day they block out the dog’s picture on our refrigerator with a strategically placed magnet), the murders did provide us with an opportunity, a silver lining, if you will.  We now had a clean pet-slate, the equivalent of using a small house fire as an excuse to update your living room furniture.  We could now purchase whatever family pet we wanted without worry of compatibility for the rodents we’d been keeping in cages (and whose lids weren’t quite as secure as we’d thought).

On a whim, we chose a couple of cute, flea-ridden kittens, to join our family.  They are now full-grown and flea-free, and they are fine additions to the house, except for one thing:

Do you have any idea how many people are allergic to cats?

I didn’t.  But I do now.  Statistics may tell you that about fifteen percent of Americans are allergic to cats, but I’d push that number closer to fifty.  Either that or the Chicago-Metro area is a haven for those allergic to felines. 

These days, when I invite someone to our home, I add, “I should mention that we have cats,” in the same tone I might use to say, “We keep a collection of body parts in the freezer.   Is that okay with you?”  I admit my offense and wait for a response, which is often something along the lines of, “Oh, um…well, I guess I could come in for a while, but I’ll be sure not to sit on your furniture.”

In the modern age of mobility, finding and keeping friends is difficult enough.  I may have 168 Facebook friends, but they don’t laugh when I tell a joke or offer a toast when I open a bottle of wine.  Human interaction is a necessity.  I need more excuses to get together with friends, not more excuses to keep them from entering my home.

Which is why I’d like to offer all of you this sage advice: buy a dog.  Or better yet, a hamster.  Just be sure to secure the lid with a bunch of those plastic zippy things the next time your sister’s dog comes over for a visit.

Copyright, 2015, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved