In 1989, Tom Hanks starred in a movie called Turner & Hooch, about a small city police detective who takes in a huge, ungainly and slovenly dog. Hanks’s character is very fastidious, almost a neat-freak. The dog is his antithesis. Needless to write, the two become good friends, and Hanks grows, if not less neat, then less unforgiving of hygienic trespass.
This, I have found, is similar to my life. I was never as much of a fanatic for cleanliness as Hanks was in the film. Few are in real life, as his character was exaggerated a bit for the purposes of comedic effect. Nonetheless, I think back to the days before I had a cat, or at least to the days when I had just one or two, and I see a change.
It is not that I am less clean. People remark on how clean my apartment is, even though I have several cats. I suppose they must expect droppings and vomit left all over the floor, or perhaps cats smoking cigarettes and tapping the ash onto the carpets. I sweep and vacuum, I dust and wash. But my attitudes are not what they used to be.
Now, when I find a cat-hair on my dishes, or even in my food, I am not disgusted. I don’t sterilise the bowl immediately or get another one to use. I let the cats on the dining table, though I wash it thoroughly before food is placed on it (my food; I don’t wash it before I put their food there.) I have lint rollers placed all over the residence like a stereotyped great-aunt from a 1940s film who likes a secret nip from bottles she thinks she keeps secret. But if I see cat-hair on my shirt, I don’t immediately leap to remove it. In fact, I find cat-hairs on newly washed and dried clothes and simply wonder where they found the time to appear there. While preparing meals, I talk to other cat-people about feline digestion and waste disposal. I pick up any stray kernels of litter a beast may have tracked from the boxes, but don’t fret about the germs that may be attached. After all, my cats lick me with affection, and I can guess what it was they had licked just prior to that.
So, while I sigh when the westering sun shines on my floors and makes the linoleum looks as if it’s a shag rug, and despair over yet another regurgitation that just missed the cheap mat I laid down over the apartment’s fitted carpets, I don’t worry overly much. It’s part of the evolution of the feline-fancier. Though I don’t suppose Hollywood will make a movie about it.