A Tico Cat Tale

Confession time.

(This may offend some of you.)

Here goes …

I really do not like cats. Really. There. I said it.

I don’t know when the distaste began. We always had dogs as pets growing up. There was the time I got bitten by a feral cat, which only solidified my prior dislike of them (that is a story for another time).

No judgment if you like them. Well, at least no judgment to your face. My best friend has four. My dad and stepmom have three or four – I’m not exactly sure of the headcount, because I just don’t pay attention to them.

The really bizarre thing is that cats seem to be drawn to me. It’s probably some weird cat-Jedi mind trick. They sense I don’t like them so they are compelled to make me notice them.

Since I’ve been in Costa Rica, I’ve been the Pied Piper of cats.

The first morning in my apartment in Tamarindo, I woke to an incessant yowling. I opened the curtains and looked through the glass patio door to find a a small gray cat with white paws who continued to yell indignantly at me.

Rise and shine!

Rise and shine!

“You picked the wrong person,” I told it through the glass and then promptly closed the curtain (here’s where all you cat lovers are going to begin to hate me for my callous treatment. I’m OK with that.).

It didn’t care and continued to meow even louder.

I learned from the property managers that the cat’s name was Sugar and her owner was traveling. It was lonely, I guess. My Grinch heart softened one-millionth of a bit.

The next morning Sugar was back, and she brought a friend.

That’s when I knew this was a plot.

“Hey you may outnumber me, but I will never like you.”

They just looked at me and swished their tails in unison.

“Meet my brother.”

“Meet my brother.”

By Day 2, I established what would become my morning ritual: coffee from the cafe across the street. The owner, an Israeli expat, loved Breaking Bad and made an assortment of homemade bread. Hence, the name, Breaking Bread.

I made sure the coast was clear and headed over to get my daily fix.

I chatted up the owner who was sitting next to the walk-up window. Suddenly, Cat No. 2 leapt onto the window ledge. The owner rubbed his face against the cat’s face and neck in a greeting. I’m sure my face looked like I’d smelled something rotten.

“Is that your cat?” I asked. “He was at my door this morning.”

“Yes, this is Walter,” the owner said. Of course, the Breaking Bad connection. “His sister lives in your complex. He comes to get her in the morning and they roam the neighborhood together.”

Ahhh. The conspiracy explained.

For the next few days the routine continued. Walter and Sugar would appear at my patio door, I would ignore them, hoping they would go away, and then I would go get coffee.

I jokingly told the coffee shop owner he should have Walter help him with marketing – he could tie coupons to his collar or outfit him with a cat-sized sandwich board. I mean, we all have to work to eat, right?

The feline siblings finally gave up on me. It wasn’t as much fun for them anymore – the shock value of showing up with two cats had definitely worn off.

Fast forward to the first day at our place in Puerto Viejo. I’d stayed in Tamarindo for two weeks, gone home to Texas for a few days to pick up my daughter, and we headed back to the east side of Costa Rica for the rest of the summer.

Ryan, the owner of our jungle bungalow, was giving us the tour of the place when out of nowhere this loud-mouthed gray cat jumped onto the porch and made itself comfortable on one of the benches.

Sugar’s yowling seemed like a whisper in comparison to this guy.

“I hope you don’t mind cats,” Ryan said. “This is Nemesis.”

Oh, the irony!

NEMESIS!

NEMESIS!

We’ve been at the new place for three days, and Nemesis shows up every night and every morning to yell at us. Then he curls up under the table or on a bench and chills for a bit. I’ve even talked to him. My daughter looked at me incredulously last night after I gave him some cheese remnants.

“Mommy! Are you warming up to Nemesis?” she asked.

No way. Noooo. Maybe more tolerant? That cat juju is working its spell on me.

Just kidding. I won’t be adopting a cat anytime soon.

I don’t know what the lesson here is. That you can find something tolerable in the things you dislike? That the world keeps presenting the same things over and over again to make you pay attention? That you should let go of your biases?

Perhaps. Or maybe there’s no lesson. It just makes a good tale.