I Would Offer to Help But There’s a Cat on My Lap

Cats living with humans dates back over 10,000 years. But in all that time, there is not a single documented case of a cat ever thanking its human cohabitant. In ancient Egypt, people worshipped cats as gods. To this day, that’s still how most cats see themselves.

Throughout history, cats have served many valuable functions for their owners. In many early civilizations, as cats became domesticated, they were kept as a means of chasing away snakes and killing mice and other rodents in order to protect the grains in storage.

It is speculated that cats were once used to herd sheep and cattle. However, historians say this practice was believed only to be associated with one group of people in medieval Wales. Apparently this terribly in-bred population suffered from a genetic defect in which everybody was severely near-sighted, and thus they mistook cats for dogs. Before long, this society appears to have died off, most likely from widespread starvation – because they kept losing their food supply of sheep and cattle. It turns out even back in the 700s, cats were terrible at herding. Many generations later, the entire tribe was posthumously given the Darwin Award.

In more recent times, cats have been adopted into families as household pets – mostly by lazy couples who preferred cats over dogs because they’ve concluded that getting up at 5am on a December morning to walk the dog and scoop up its poop on a frozen sidewalk was way too much work.

Throughout my marriage, we’ve owned cats as pets, typically two or three at a time. Don’t worry, I never became one of those “crazy cat people” with a dozen cats – because my wife would never agree to this. We love our cats dearly, but over the years, we’ve had to replace several living room chairs and many blown glass vases, thanks to our cats’ hardwired obsession with scratching furniture and knocking onto the floor anything on a counter that looked expensive.

In recent years, I have found yet another extremely useful function for our three cats, Buddy, Zippy, and Monster: I frequently use them to get out of having to help my wife with chores. That’s because we have a tacit agreement: Whenever one of us is lying on the couch, and there’s a cat on our lap, we mustn’t disturb our furry friend from their peaceful slumber.

As a result, whenever a cat is looking adorably cute, lounging comfortably on my lap, I get an immediate hall pass to avoid helping my wife with any chores until my fuzzy feline decides it’s time to move on to something more fascinating – like a nearby twist tie or a piece of lint. And our giant moose of a cat Buddy has been known to park himself on my lap for hours at a time, all but guaranteeing I won’t have to lift a finger for the rest of the afternoon.

This system has been working wonderfully for me. For example, let’s say my wife could use a little help in the kitchen cooking dinner. As she’s getting close to the point where I anticipate she’ll likely be asking for my assistance, I make sure to grab say, Monster, park him on my lap and pat him until he settles in for a nice long nap. “Hey, honey, I would totally help peel the potatoes, but I’m stuck. I have a cat on my lap.” Chore averted.

But be careful not to abuse this strategy. A few years ago, during the peak of the pandemic, I was working from home. My boss asked me for my quarterly sales forecast. I tried to explain that I was not ready to present it at our Zoom meeting because there had been a cat on my lap for the previous two hours.

I figured my boss would understand. Turns out she had no sympathy for my predicament. I made the mistake of working for someone who was a dog person. (It’s my fault for not asking her about this during my job interview.) She had this crazy notion that focusing on my job during work hours took priority over patting kitties. Such a heartless person. I would have submitted a formal harassment claim to the HR department but I couldn’t – because I still had a cat on my lap – and our small company did not have an HR department.

I have been able to avoid raking the leaves, doing laundry, and power-washing the driveway for weeks at a time, thanks to this “Cat On My Lap” (COML) addendum to our marriage vows. But lately, our cat Zippy has been gravitating more to my wife’s lap than mine, thus ruining the balance of cat lap time that had been disproportionately favoring me. My wife is deliberately attempting to turn the tables by claiming “I’d be happy to help you with the gardening, but as you can clearly see, Zippy is parked on my lap.”

Our COML agreement worked perfectly when Zippy preferred my lap to my wife’s. But lately he’s turned into a traitor. Even Buddy – who ALWAYS prefers me – has taken to preferring my wife over me for cuddle time. What’s going on??!! My wife has nefariously used this technique to get me to cook dinner three nights in a row – and clean the BBQ grill. So unfair. I think she’s bribing the cats, but I have yet to catch her in the act.

This has to stop. I’m going to start spraying all my wife’s clothing with a dog fur cologne. (I wonder if Amazon has this in stock.) Hopefully, they’ll start to view her with suspicion or even terror and return to choosing my lap over hers, thus restoring order to the cat universe.

I know, it sounds extreme. But when it comes to my relaxation and my desire to avoid helping out around the house, sometimes a husband has to take drastic measures.

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