Not quite a cat lady

My boyfriend loves cats. And when I say “love,” I mean giant swirly-pink-glitter-confetti-type love. If I’m not Spencer’s soul mate (and I certainly hope I am), I’d believe an adorable British shorthair is.

I’m coming to terms with this.

For as much as he likes kittens, I’m afraid of them. I’ve never been a cat person. My family has a big ball o’ fun golden retriever, Rudy, and we fall decidedly on the pup side of the eternal Cat vs. Dog debate. I’ve always had a big dog running around, desperately hoping you’ll “drop” something from the dinner table. In the homes of our family and friends, dogs are a given.

Cats? They’re an entirely different animal — um, pun intended. Until I met Spencer, my experience with felines was limited to cat-sitting our neighbor’s black-and-white angry puss, Stripe, and his successor. If those guys weren’t kicking up kitty litter, hissing or passively-aggressively refusing to eat, they were blocking the door so I couldn’t flee without losing a chunk of my ankle.

They scared me.

It’s the stealthy nature of cats that really freaks me out. When my 80-lb. dog is hurtling down the hallway, I have time to make decisions. I can evade his bulk by side-stepping all that slobber or find a treat to tame him. Rudy is not quiet. He couldn’t sneak up on someone if he put all his goldie-brain-power behind the goal. He’s a big, lovable doof. Who gets mad when you wake him up with a camera.

Rudy is not amused.

Cats are quiet. They hop onto the tops of cabinets and nestle into couch cushions. You might not hear or see them until they dart out from behind a door, scaring the ever-livin’ tar out of you, and the idea of having a cat around demonstrates how unbelievably skittish I am.

On our trip to New York last weekend, Spencer and I spent time with his parents’ cats. The first time I came up to meet his family found me cowering in a corner as Zoe, probably the calmest cat around, innocently tip-toed up to this stranger in her house. I freaked out so bad that Spencer ran in, surprised at desperate way I was calling for him, and I had to explain that yes, I was completely panicking over a little cat walking up to me.

Not my finest moment.

This vacation was my third or fourth time around Zoe and Max, a brother-and-sister pair adopted years before. While Max darted from the room as soon as Spencer and I entered, Zoe didn’t seem bothered by our presence. She hung out with us pretty regularly. Toward the end of our long weekend, she was even cuddling up in my lap and allowing me to pet her. She never took a swipe at me, bared her teeth or tried to sever my limbs. She was just . . . a cute cat. Calm and sweet.

Totally un-Stripe-like.

Knowing Spencer wants to get a cat of his own soon, I’m trying to wrap my mind around cats. As a concept. Having one around, feeding one, cleaning up after one . . . it’s all very mind-blowing. I’m used to the rough-and-tumble nature of a big dog, and the dainty sneak-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night idea of cats causes a bubble of panic to rise in my throat.

Can cats smell fear?

Each feline is different, I tell myself. Not all cats are mean. And not all cats are nice. I have to learn the ins and outs of each — their quirks, personalities. If I’m around Spencer and said cat enough, hopefully the cat will like me. And we will be . . . a little family.

I’ll keep some catnip on me just in case.

Book review & giveaway: ‘The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs’

When my boyfriend Spencer found out I was getting The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs, the latest book of hilarious cat photos from the franchise, he was . . . well, a tad excited.

In fact, he couldn’t believe it.

The third installment capitalizing on the Lolcats, an Internet phenomenon in which visitors caption photos of cats submitted by other users, doesn’t pull any tricks. It’s exactly what you’d expect of a humor book with baby cats on the cover, and what we’ve seen before: many full-color pages of cats in various poses, all captioned with funny and clever phrases. Here, most of them are — as the title suggests — “itteh bitteh” kitties. Kittens, you know.

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a cat lover. Give me a giant golden retriever over an itteh bitteh kitteh any day. However, I started hanging out on the ICanHasCheezburger website years ago — and even tried my hand at captioning some — and really got a kick out of it. They’re all light-hearted and, if you stop by often enough, you’ll begin to see running gags like monorail cat.

What’s the appeal of Lolcats? For Spencer, a guy who grew up with kitties, it’s a way of still laughing at the ridiculous stuff cats get into. After flipping through The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs last night, we may or may not have watched a solid 30 minutes of box cat on YouTube. And other cat antics. And talking cats. And cats doing human-like stuff.

Never seen a Lolcat, or don’t quite get it? For someone new to the genre, Spencer says, “Start with a book — you’re guaranteed to get a few good ones. With the website, if you don’t see something you like, you can dismiss it too quickly.” You have three options and plenty of laughs in each installment.

If you’re into funny cat photos, you’ll like this one — and read it quickly. If you’re not into funny cat photos? This might not be your bag. But it’ll still make a great gift or be fun to share with friends.

Or, you know what? You can win one! I have a copy up for grabs, courtesy of the publisher, to one U.S. resident. (Added on Oct. 18: Congrats to Melydia, our randomly-selected winner! She’s been emailed. Thanks everyone for entering!)

And because you can’t talk about Lolcats without looking at Lolcats, here are Spence’s and my favorites from The Itteh Bitteh Book Of Kittehs:

Irish kitteh luvs to . . . be included?

So I’ve been totally obsessed with the I Can Has Cheezburger? website for about a year now. It’s a bit of a strange obsession considering I am really not a cat person . . . honestly, they scare me. The closest I’ll ever come to them is when I’m catsitting for my neighbor, and even then I try and keep a healthy distance between Buddy the Cat and me.

But the photos are hilarious! And the “lolspeak” is likewise hilarious. The boyfriend and I frequently joke with one another in our newly-acquired language, and I’ve found myself playing barking to co-workers at the bookstore, “Yep, you can has it!”

I’m sure my English professors would give me a quick smack with a linguistics book if they ever heard me mouthing off in grammatically incorrect, random phrases like that, but no matter. This is why it’s great to be in the “real world”!

So anyway — I digress (yet again). The I Can Has Cheezburger? website has now published a book with some of the site’s “greatest hits” as well as never-before-seen images. We had the book in the warehouse of the bookstore the other night and, as another perk to my bookselling job, I got to take a peek at it before we lugged it out to the selling floor (the book releases Oct. 7, if you’re interested). This is usually the case — with the exception of “major” laydown books like Harry Potter and Breaking Dawn, which come sealed in massive packages and can only be opened under penalty of a swift death.

I got crazy excited thinking, vainly, that maybe my lolcat image (“irish kitteh luvs to jig”) had made it into the book — it’s been fairly popular on the site. Well, sadly, it was not part of the collection! This after I searched through nearly the whole book quickly, stifling a few laughs and rushing back off to the floor to, you know, do my job.

Well, maybe next collection! And I’ll continue to read the site faithfully with my Diet Pepsi Max every morning at my desk, chuckling to myself and minimizing the screen as soon as co-workers pass by!