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ripsAfter getting a few hours of writing done after work, Ben and I walked up the street and returned to our apartment with a few deli wraps and a bottle of wine.

We then spent the night watching mixed martial arts fights on TV, toasting to various things, and envisioning how the next few months of our lives are going to unfold. Now that we will both work from the home, how are things going to change?It was quickly decided (after two glasses of wine) that as far as our growing home office was concerned, Ripley would be named Chief Executive Officer. It was also quickly decided that Rips would look really, really cute in a tie.

I thought it would be a good idea to install a water cooler in the living room so that we could take breaks and talk about the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars. We both agreed that any emails we sent to each other would now be referred to as “office-wide memos.”  

Ben also suggested that we instate a company policy prohibiting interoffice relationships in order to promote professionalism, but Ripley and I quickly struck it down. After three glasses of wine, we decided that instead of “dress-down Fridays” we’d have “drunk Fridays” – you know, just to keep everyone comfortable and to keep company morale up.

The list of things that our office wouldn’t have was highly encouraging, though. No more commutes, no more bagged lunches. No more dress code, no more dour 15-minute birthday celebrations. More importantly, no more spreadsheets (or, at least, very few), no more working on projects I don’t choose, no more phone addict cube mate.

I know that the challenges ahead of me are hard, but at least they’ll be my challenges. And even though my new boss demands to be fed twice a day and makes me clean up her poop, at least she doesn’t have the ability to talk. Or use emoticons.

ripsThis morning, something very strange happened: I woke up naturally. I stretched out in bed, rubbed my eyes, and tried to put my finger on the strange feeling I had. Even though I felt more rested than usual, something wasn’t quite right.

The apartment was quiet – all together too quiet! With a start, I realized that it was past seven and the kitty alarm wasn’t going off. Usually by 7:01 AM, the kitty alarm has her paws on my chest and is howling in my face as if the world is going to end. Usually, the kitty alarm is nipping and pawing at any exposed body parts that she can find, although she greatly prefers toes.

Surely, I thought, sitting up and jumping out of bed, Ripley is dead. No other force in the world would keep her from harassing me for food.

I speed walked to the kitchen, noticing well that Ripley wasn’t tripping me up and jogging ahead of me like she should be. Upon inspecting her food bowl, I saw that she hadn’t eaten her dinner from the night before – a phenomenon that is simply unheard of. I called her name and started looking under things to recover her corpse.

Alas, she was in the bathtub. Obviously sick and not wanting to be bothered.

Later that day, at work, I began receiving a string of emails from Ben, chronicling the different places and variety of unfortunate ways he had run into cat vomit. “On the couch,” he would write. “Don’t worry, I flipped the cushion.” And, later, “Everywhere!”

When I got home from work, I found a few new batches myself – under the coffee table, in the kitchen. It was some sort of terrible Easter egg hunt, if you replaced Easter eggs with enormous globs of something that used to be a Grade D chicken dinner feast with gravy.

Ripley seems to be doing a little better now – although the kitty alarm didn’t go off around dinner time like it usually does, she is back to hanging out with us and stealing Ben’s seat on the couch every time he gets up for something. We’re guessing it’s some sort of passing kitty stomach bug.

Seriously, though – how can she just throw up somewhere and then just walk away to throw up somewhere else?  Shouldn’t kitties throw up by kneeling over their litter boxes? I could even hold back her whiskers for her.

carpet ripleyIf necessity is the father of invention, Ripley must think that it is truly necessary to eat way, way too much cat food. As the weeks of her diet have gone by, her tactics have become increasingly complex and increasingly desperate. And, ironically, the agility and energy she has gained through her diet has only given her an advantage in her constant quest.

In the first weeks, Ripley played with our emotions to get food – those big, dumb golden eyes looking at me saying, if you loved me, if you weren’t a cruel monster, you would give me sustenance. She would then throw her body against my legs and meow as if she hadn’t eaten in weeks. She would go nuts if either of us even approached the kitchen and even extra crazy if in the kitchen we 1) ate something or 2) opened a bag or can. It was a simple scheme, but it worked from time to time.

After we started to see results and after my heart hardened against her pleas, Ripley had to move a step up from toying with our emotions. By which I mean, of course, repeatedly knocking over the trash can. Whether this was to find scraps or simply a gesture of warning to the humans — if you don’t feed me, I will destroy your lives – I’m not sure. But I am sure that raw chicken gets really, really gross after sitting at room temperature in the garbage after even an hour or two.

The next thing she tried was smarter. If Ben fed her, Ripley would scarf it down and then start harassing me as if she hadn’t eaten yet. If I fed her, she would know to go find Ben and play all hungry and innocent. It was truly an ancient war tactic: split the forces, confuse them, and conquer. We’re not sure how many double feedings she got from this method, but we caught on before too long.

Then a few nights ago I was making dinner in the kitchen. I opened a can of diced tomatoes and Ripley immediately ran into the room to inspect the situation. Ripley only gets canned food once or twice a week (variety is important in any diet, especially of the turkey-in-gravy kind) and she generally thinks that anything that comes in a can is a gift to be bestowed on her.

I said, “No, Ripley. This is not turkey in gravy. This is boring human food.” But she was convinced I was lying to her. And then she stood up on two feet and took two steps toward me in a desperate attempt to reach supposed canned kitty food. I’m guessing that by next month she’ll be perfecting a tiny kitty hover car or some contraption that will beam her to the nearest cat food location.

Read the last installment of Ripley: Cat on a Diet