By Ernie Poodle

The day you realize that you hate your cat and want to put her to sleep comes as a shock. You never thought that day would come, and then all of a sudden, there it is. But even though it takes you by surprise, there's a long build-up that goes before, a kind of sub-conscious progress that takes place largely unnoticed over many years of holding a cat.

At first she's only a fluffy kitten, then she's a fluffy kitten that sometimes gets on your nerves and has to be trained not to scratch the couch, pee in the corner, etc. Then comes the time when you think: If she's learned not to pee in the corner, why can't she learn not to scratch the couch? But she's still very fluffy, so you think: I'll give her another chance, and another, and another, not noticing really how many chances are coming and going without her changing her habits. Then you get mad at her, and there's a fight, and she promises to change, and you think: This time she really means it, and you forgive her, and you're glad you've forgiven her.

But later you notice that she's secretly gone back to scratching the couch, and you wonder: Is she using me? You begin to notice things: She always wants to sit in your lap and purr when you are about to explode. Is it calculated? Is she thinking: I have to keep this guy on a tight leash? Is she thinking: He's such a sucker for a handful of fur, he'll never get it.

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