Bandit, The Bad Ass Cat

Bandit came to us with an attitude. One day I opened my front door and she just ran past me into my living room. I turned to stare at the little 6-week-old kitten and she stared right back at me with her big green eyes. She didn’t cower in a corner, like most frightened kittens would have. She stood boldly in the middle of the room proclaiming, in cat language, that she had chosen this lowly abode to be her place of residence. She sat down daintily and licked her shoulder so that I could admire the lush reddish and black stripes on her long, silky brown coat. I picked her up and brought her outside where I kept food and water for all the strays that got dropped off in our very rural neighborhood. She would have none of this, however, and just darted past my legs and back into my living room. Outdoor life was definitely not her preference and I’d better just get used to it, because she had taken possession of me, and my home. I called my husband, CatNapped, and told him that we had just adopted a new kitten. We called her Bandit because she took unlawful possession of everything we owned.

It wasn’t long before Bandit had us trained to take care of her every whim. Non-compliance was met with snarls, bites, and scratches on our most expensive furniture as well as on our most tender and delicious body parts. No other stray cat was allowed inside the house; dogs weren’t even permitted on the surrounding property – she could intimidate them from the windows! Her energy was boundless, even for a kitten. She had her own special way of getting from the kitchen to the living room. She would start on the far side of the kitchen, start running full out, then jump up as high as she could onto the hall wall. She would then bounce off of the wall onto the opposite wall, then rebound from that wall to the first, and end up in one giant leap onto the coffee table – sliding everything off with her four-paw landing.

One day, when Bandit was about 10 weeks old, a neighborhood boy came to the house calling on my son, CatsPaw. Following right behind him, through the front door, was his pet pit bull. Bandit was sitting on the arm of the sofa when this intruder burst into her house. She promptly launched herself six feet through the air to land on the dog’s face. She hooked her front claws behind the dog’s ears and hooked her hind claws beneath his chin. She then proceeded to bite him about the eyes and ears, all the while producing a most frightening caterwaul. The poor dog looked like that guy who was first attacked in "Alien" – he didn’t know what was happening to him and just stood there shaking his head back and forth trying to dislodge the tiny banshee. Finally, Bandit released one paw in order to add a nasty swipe to his bleeding forehead and he was able to shake her off. The minute he was free he made a beeline for the door and ran, howling, all the way home. His peeved owner later told me that he wouldn’t come out of his doghouse for three days. I only avoided a lawsuit because the owner was too embarrassed to admit, in court, that a tiny kitten had so brutalized and traumatized his macho canine.

When Bandit was six months old, CatNapped and I decided to take a much-needed vacation from our mistress – a chance to heal our many wounds! We planned to drive down to Orlando, Florida, stay with my husband’s family, and visit Disney World. We arranged to have a "cat sitter" come to our house, once a day, to feed the little monster, and clean the litter box. I felt morally obliged to warn this brave soul about the dangers of close association with Bandit. "Now, be sure you wear heavy jeans and high-topped boots when you come." I told her. "A thick denim jacket with heavy-duty gardening gloves would also help protect you. You don’t happen to own a motorcycle helmet, do you? Be sure not to expose any body parts, and whatever you do, don’t turn your back on her!"

I called home every day to make sure the sitter was still alive and in good health and had not fled the country in terror. She assured me that everything was fine and Bandit was behaving herself beautifully. I started to worry. The cat was planning something big. On the last day of our trip I heard the sitter say brightly (and with a sigh of relief) to Bandit, "Your mommy is coming home tomorrow!" Oh gawd, the fool! Didn’t she know that you NEVER told that cat any of your plans in advance – she was dangerous enough without being forewarned! "Don’t worry," the sitter told me, "everything is nice and tidy for when you return. Bandit has been a little angel." My worry deepened.

As we pulled into the driveway, I could feel an ominous quiet seeping from the house. Something seemed to be amiss with the front window, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I opened the front door and stood for a moment gaping at what was left of my living room. The drapes from both windows lay shredded on the floor. The beautifully bound, first edition book which had graced the coffee table for so many years was torn to tiny bits. The paneling was marred with long scratches from ceiling to floor. The molding from the lintel on top of the hallway door was missing. The carpet was peeling up from bare floor in several places. In the hallway, we found a trail of toilet paper leading to the bathroom. Some of it had been dumped into the toilet so that water soaked the bathroom floor and hall carpet. In the kitchen, all the canisters were toppled to the floor and flour coated every square inch of walls, floor, and ceiling. Rice, sugar, and bits of broken glass crunched under our feet as we made our way to the refrigerator to belatedly close the door that had been pulled open – allowing all the food inside to spoil. The chairs from the dinette set were tumbled across the room and their leather seat cushions were ripped apart and leaking padding. In the laundry room, the litter box was turned over and its contents were spread over the walls and floor as well as the formerly clean laundry, which had been neatly folded in baskets. In the bedroom I saw a large yellow stain in the middle of my white chenille bedspread. I found one of my slippers, chewed beyond recognition, on the bedroom floor. The other slipper was later discovered in the toilet. And, sitting in her bed with a look of satisfaction on her face, was the perpetrator of all this havoc. She looked up at me and had the nerve to hiss!! "Oh, what are we going to do CatNapped?" I wailed. "I vote we just get back in the car and find another place to live," he replied, "she can have the house if she’ll just let us go!" "Don’t be silly." I said. "Slaves like us are too hard to replace – she’d track us down and then we’d REALLY be in trouble!"

I thought that, as she grew older, Bandit would settle down a bit – how foolish the hopes of the oppressed! Over the years she has: chased visitors, screaming, to the tops of furniture; launched herself from our second floor balcony to land atop a stray tom cat and chased him off never to be seen again; terrorized every dog that has ever lived within a mile radius of our home; shredded every piece of furniture we’ve ever owned; inflicted scars upon my body; and severely wounded a number of veterinary assistants. Today, at nine years old, she is fourteen pounds of bad attitude – with teeth!

Besides straight-forward terrorism, she has also learned some subtler tortures. Take, for instance, the way she learned to turn on the "touch" lamp that sits on the table beside my bed. Now, some of you may call that an accident that happens when she sniffs the lamp. No way, folks! She touches the lamp very quickly, three times, with her nose so that the three-way bulb will turn on to its brightest setting, directly into my sleeping eyes – at three-o-clock in the morning. She will also wait for the rainiest day of the year and then dart out the front door and under the bushes (where she is dry under the eaves of the house) and evade my grasping hands until I am thoroughly soaked. Is it any wonder that her nickname is "Bitch Cat From Hell"?

CatNapped and I haven’t been on another vacation since that fateful trip to Orlando. I think that it’s high time we had another break. Maybe somewhere far, far away – across an ocean, maybe. Anyone out there want a job as a cat sitter? The pay is good, and all medical expenses are covered. No special training is required, but it helps if you have a spare suit of armor hanging around. Well, any takers? Hello? Hello?

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