Archived Opinion

Evil cat proves you get what you pay for

Every column should have a point, and here’s mine, right in the first paragraph (this to save you from having to read through to the end if you are in a hurry, or if you are a dog person and not a cat person) — nothing will come of nothing.

Admit it. Shakespeare himself couldn’t have phrased that better.

Here’s the point expressed another way: you get what you pay for.

And if one cliché is good, two must be twice as good: Nothing in life is free.

I write this while admiring the red streaking that radiates along my left arm from the wrist area, like the October sky toward evening when the sun begins to set.

My cat, an evil beast I’ve had for 17 years and, despite my hopeful scrutiny each morning, shows no indications of willingly leaving this earth soon, bit and clawed my wrist Friday afternoon. While I was rescuing him from the jaws and claws of a very large tomcat, that could have dispatched my geriatric cat — Edgar — with one swipe of his huge tomcat paw.

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What was I thinking? Fortune knocked. And I, idiot that I am, slammed the door in her face.

Eighty-percent of cat bites become infected, the physicians’ assistant told me Saturday at the urgent care center in Franklin. Where I went with great reluctance on that beautiful autumn day. Which should have been spent outside, as I’d intended and made plans to do.

She assured me that yes, I really needed treatment, and no, I couldn’t have just ignored the streaking and hoped for a magical (read, free) cure.  

Nothing will come of nothing? Try $123 at the care center, and $103 to the pharmacist.

Within 20 minutes of my showing up for treatment, an animal-control officer was on the scene. I explained to this young man, who works for the Macon County sheriff, that yes, it was my cat that had bitten and clawed me; and no, Edgar doesn’t have rabies; that yes, he was up-to-date on his vaccinations (which might not exactly be true, I don’t remember when he was last at the veterinary clinic, but I am confident the little bastard — oh oops, did I actually write that in bold black-and-white letters in a family newspaper — isn’t rabid.)

Here’s the kicker. Macon County’s sheriff, Robby Holland, gave me the cat all those years ago when he (Robby, not the cat) was getting his start in law enforcement as the county’s first animal control officer.

I was equally green, having recently become a reporter for The Franklin Press. We were both in our 20s, and we became friends. And no, that doesn’t influence my news coverage, or his devotion to the law, if it comes to that. I like his campaign opponent, George Lynch, a lot, too.

Robby, however, played a dirty trick on me all those years ago. I still owe him. And I figure he owes me, too — $226 for Saturday, plus nearly two decades worth of payments for cat food, toys, litter and trips to veterinarians.

I remember Robby showing me the most beautiful kitten I’ve ever seen. A lovely gray-and-white ball, so young, the kitten was being spooned baby food for sustenance. Beauty and vulnerability be damned. I should have been wary. The kitten had been living with Robby and his wife, Marci, and Robby had been roughhousing with the tiny creature while trying to find a Good Samaritan (read, sucker) to adopt him.

“But Quintin, I’ll have to take him to the pound if you don’t adopt him,” Robby said plaintively, the tiny kitten cupped alluringly in the palm of his hand and thrust forth for my review.

I didn’t ask why he and Marci didn’t keep the kitten. My other cat, I told myself, needed a friend. I have never been more wrong. She neither wanted nor needed a friend. Minerva hated Edgar until the day she died. With never-wavering passion and intensity.

That’s the end of this column. The point is in the first paragraph, but I’ll give you another jellybean for having read this far: never look a gift cat in the mouth. Because even if that cat has only one fang left in his head, given an opportunity he’ll sink the filthy, yellow thing in your wrist. It will get infected. And cost you a bunch of money, and ruin your weekend to boot.

(Quintin Ellison can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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