Dandelions in a meadow outside Thunder Bay, ON

Dandelions in a meadow outside Thunder Bay, ON

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Scaredy Cats and the People Who Love Them

One feature of Halloween will always be lost on me: I am incapable of being frightened by animals. Naturally existing animals or their fictional derivatives, it doesn't matter. Spiders, bats, toads and snakes are all invaluable sources of that burst of adrenalin that sends normal people running and shrieking, but I'm afraid all they do for me is send me into a frenzy of dotage: "Oh, look at that cute little spider/snakey/[insert name of hideous and repulsive animal of your choice]." If the animal is not downright venomous or obviously rabid, I will try to pick up and cuddle it. As for mythical creatures like werewolves, well, those are really just people pretending to be animals. What self-respecting wolf goes around grunting and slobbering like that? We know that animals are simply more competent and effective than we are - we know, because we used to be them, - and on Halloween we express our admiration and nostalgia in clumsy and roundabout ways.

Last week I was awakened in the middle of the night by a shaking and quaking of my pillow. My first thought was that I must have imagined it. (We have no pets because we both travel too often.) When the quaking repeated itself, my next thought was that it must be an animal, because my husband was right there and sleeping. It had to be. A normal person would have been scared out of their wits. I know this because everyone I'd told the story assumed that I was scared (which also means I've been mistaken for a normal person). All I thought was, "Cool: an animal. Touching me. Way cool! Let's see who it is." Never mind that it was impossible for an animal to be there. Suspension of disbelief works much better when you're only half awake. I turned around and saw a cat on the windowsill. A fully-grown cat had materialized inside a closed room. I stretched out my hand to let him sniff, and we made contact. I patted the mosquito net to evaluate the size of the hole he'd torn to get inside. But of course there was no hole, and he'd never got in through the window. He wanted out, not in. By now I was awake enough to realize he'd got in through the open balcony door during the daytime, had hidden under the bed as we walked into the apartment, and had lain in wait until the middle of the night. Maybe he was scared, or maybe he'd fallen asleep. Until he decided it was time to pee or eat or return home. I let him out on the balcony and he went back down the way he'd come. One cool cat.

So the stories I find scary never contain animals. And here is the next installment of this week's Halloween Reads from Angela Kulig: www.angelakulig.com/2015/10/halloween-reads-2015-day-two.html

My "Day of the Dead" is among them. Enjoy!



  1. Dr V, can a rat be a pet?

  2. Absolutely. Rats are very intelligent and gentle, they make great pets.