The Day My Cat Caught On Fire

And now for a story.  A silly story.

What I’m listening to as I’m blogging today:  Jackson Cannery by Ben Folds Five

Rachi - our circus freak show flaming cat

I’m not a cat person by nature.  Growing up, we had weird little mutt dogs that loved the phooey out of us.  Dogs are great because you can really play with them. You can be rough and tumble with them and they like it.  They like to play tug.  They like to play growl.  Dogs get the whole playing thing.  I liked this because I didn’t do well with the whole gentle with animals thing as a kid.  We did have a cat once.  It didn’t really like us so she hid every time she saw us coming.  I can’t blame her really.  We were nuts as kids, and we certainly didn’t understand the nature of a skittish little cat.

Between that and my neighbor’s cat nearly taking out my eyeball (I still have the scar in my eyebrow) I wasn’t a big fan of cats.  In fact, my joke was always, “You can kick a cat forty yards in a good, stiff wind.”  Not my most kind to animals comment, but there it is.

El Jefe, my husband, was the opposite of me growing up.  His family had mostly all cats as pets.  And from his stories, they were like Super Cats that could do no wrong.  They were, according to him, the kindest, most special cats around.  *insert eye roll here*  When we first got married we talked about pet ownership.  We were apartment dwellers and felt bad about the idea of confining a dog inside our apartment as we worked all day.  And, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of cats as an alternative, so we lived pet-free for many years.

At a family gathering once, El Jefe’s aunt mentioned to us about a cat that had been hanging around her house, and that for some odd reason thought would be the cat for us.  We went over and check it out, both of us skeptical for our own individual reasons.  But it turned out this cat was pretty sweet, and I couldn’t believe it was in my own voice that I begged to bring this cat home.

Fast forward a year and the addition of a second cat.

Our cats quickly became members of the family.  They don’t like to be away from us for any length of time.  Rachi, our first,  is stoic and reserved most of the time.  He doesn’t like to be messed with, but he likes to stay close.  Even right now he’s sitting next to me spell checking my blog or plotting my death.  Either one.


In the mornings, our cats like to partake in the ritual we call getting ready for work.  If the faucet is running for toothbrushing, one of the cats’ faces is in the stream of water in the sink.  If a bath has been drawn, one of the cats is bending as far over the edge of the tub as possible in order to drink the warm water.  If I’m sitting in the bathroom applying makeup, there’s a cat at my feet and on the countertop, both in supervisory positions.

One particular morning during the morning ritual, El Jefe lit a candle, brought it into the bathroom, and set it down near where I was applying my makeup.  He knows I love candles and it was a sweet gesture.  The only problem was Rachi.  Rachi, though near perfect in many ways (yes, I’m a sellout of a non-cat person singing his praises) he doesn’t quite get the fact that he is flammable.  The candle was placed near where he would normally sit and observe my makeup application process.  As he jumped up on the counter and sauntered toward me, he inadvertently lit himself on fire!

“Ack!  Rachi’s on fire!!”  I yelled to El Jefe.  I would have yelled, “Stop drop and roll, Rachi!” but, well, you know.  My yelling freaked out our otherwise calm cat.  He jumped off the countertop, ran out of the bathroom, straight for our bed.  All I could think was, “Well thank God I’m at least dressed.  That’s one less thing to be embarrassed about when I have to explain to the fire fighters and my neighbors in the building exactly how we burnt the place down.”

You know those moments where everything slows down for dramatic effect in the movies? Like perhaps a quarterback throwing a Hail Mary pass at the end of the fourth quarter in an attempt of a come-from-behind win?  That’s what flaming Rachi looked like running across the room toward our bed – a slow motion blur of white fur and flames Hail Mary-ing himself toward a soft and even more flammable hiding place.

But in a blessed turn of events, as Rachi dove under the bed to his safety, the diving motion itself put out the flame the very moment he got under the bed.  We dragged him out by his feet.  His fur was singed pretty good, but no skin was burned.  He appeared to be just fine, as was the rest of the house.  Ooooh but the smell of burned cat fur!!  Good.  Gravy.  Gross.

I love our cats, even though I’m not a cat person by nature.  I’ve even come to love my friends’ cats, well, most of them.  But really, if I could just train ours to Stop Drop and Roll, that would be the best!

Note to self: Google cat-training