Help! My Cat Is A Bully

I even have a “dangerous pet warning” on my UPS account, because of the time the driver came up to the porch and Loki attempted to attack him through the crack in the window.
Publish date:
December 5, 2011
bullying, Diana Vreeland, cat, funny face, fashion in film, devil wears prada, september issue

My cat is a bully. And let me tell you, I am embarrassed to have raised a bully, because it runs so contrary to everything I believe in, but there it is. I’m pretty sure he thinks his name is Lokidon’tbeanasshole and people sometimes just call him Loki for short.

He terrorizes the staff at the veterinary clinic, who are polite whenever I come in, but are less than enthusiastic to see him. When I had multiple cats, there was always a note of hope in the tech’s voice when I walked in the door.

“And who are we seeing today?” She’d peer into the carrier, hoping it was Mr. Bell, whom the clinic staff loved so much that they would carry him around and I’d have to wrestle him back when I came to pick him up, or Mr. Shadow, who was generally polite, if not excited about being there.

“Oh,” she’d say. “Hi, Loki.”

Now that we’re just down to Loki and me, they know, when I call, that it’s Loki. It’s always Loki. The last time he had a procedure there, when I came to pick him up, he was packaged in the carrier and sitting on the front counter by the time I’d turned off my engine. He was, if I recall, chewing casually on the bill while glaring at a poor woman and her standard poodle who were waiting to be seen.

I even have a “dangerous pet warning” on my UPS account, because of the time the driver came up to the porch and Loki attempted to attack him through the crack in the window, growling desperately and windmilling his paws, hoping for a chunk of the driver’s arm.

Now the UPS driver tentatively approaches the porch and hurls the packages roughly in the direction of the door before speeding away.

I’m not sure why he’s such a bully, but he pretty much always has been. In his kittenhood, he’d attempt to beat up on Bell and Shadow, who would give him long, bored looks before resuming their more important eldercat activities. When Shadow and Bell started to get sick, Loki saw no reason to stop being an asshole, and in fact ramped it up; he’d do things like casually walking on them to reach his preferred spot on the bed, even as they grunted in pain and irritation.

The problem with living alone with a bully, of course, is that now that he has no other convenient targets, he’s turned on me. I have begged, I have pleaded, I have suggested interventions and a zero tolerance policy, and it is to absolutely no avail. I can’t help but feel guilty, because they say bullies are bred by bad home life, and I wonder if I’m failing him, as a catparent.

This fall, the heater wars began.

I am a bit parsimonious with the heat; I usually keep it much lower than most other people would have it1, and will load on another sweater or scarf before turning the heater on, if I can. Last winter, I kept the house warm because Mr. Bell was sick, but I thought surely this winter, I wouldn’t be spending vast amounts of money on the heating bill because I no longer have a sick senior cat and Loki’s pretty fluffy and well insulated by pudge, so he can take it.

Oh no, my friends. Oh no.

If the temperature even begins to hint at slipping below 70, Loki is looking pointedly at the thermostat. If I attempt to walk by it without turning it on, he will savage my leg, turning to look away innocently when I look down.

Fortunately he hasn’t figured out how to reach the thermostat, which is good, because otherwise I strongly suspect I’d be waking up to find it set to 90. If I lie in bed past the appointed hour, he will pointedly start kneading any part of my anatomy he can reach to suggest it’s time to get up and turn on the heat. If I try to turn it down before leaving the house for a few hours, he will actually physically block my access to the thermostat.

Which means, of course, that my gas bill is going to be truly breathtaking this winter. I’m already dreading it and we haven’t even gotten into the really cold bits of winter, the late December and early January times when I have to wrap the pipes to keep them from freezing.

And, of course, the propane delivery man is one of Loki’s archnemeses, so every time the truck pulls up Loki races for the bedroom to posture aggressively in the window. I’m not sure the gas man has noticed, yet, but it seems inevitable and I dread being blacklisted by the propane company.

I try to point out to Loki that being mean to the gas man is not a good long-term strategy, but he ignores me. The only way to get him to leave the poor gas man alone is, of course, to turn the thermostat down, thus drawing Loki’s ire back to me.

It’s kind of awkward to admit this, but the fact is that I have been bested by a 20-pound ball of fluff who keeps me so thoroughly cowed that I fully expect the gas bill for December to exceed $300.

1. As in, I leave it set to 55 most of the time by preference.