Cats slaughter hundreds if not thousands of infants every year. Literally. Their preferred modus operandi is to position themselves over the sleeping body of a newborn baby and suck the breath out of its body, but, as if that weren't enough, they're also into chest compression, suffocation, and spraying toxoplasmosis all over the fucking joint.
In short, they have a rap sheet that would dismay even Herod.
My mother, who is a regional health and safety overlord, shared these facts with me as we were leaving the hospital, following the birth of my firstborn.
"I've been thinking", she said, turning to me. "About Winnie and Patsy."
"Oh, ok. What about them?" I said.
"Cats can suffocate babies", she said, suddenly gripping the infant carrier. "I'm happy to take them to the vet for you, for, you know what. And I'm happy to pay for it. As a Christmas present."
"You want to kill the cats for me?" I said. "As a Christmas present?"
She looked away from me for a moment, and then nodded, her eyes filling with tears.
"For god's sake mami, please don't cry again", I said, impatiently. "I bought a cat net from Mothercare. It'll be fine."
Just then, the baby started crying. I grabbed the infant carrier from my mother's hand, a little too roughly.
"I can't believe I've got to feed her again!" I said.
"You've always hated me", said my mother, nursing her fingers. "And I'm only trying to help."
In hindsight, of course, I should have thanked my mother for offering to take the cats to the vet. After all, it wouldn't have been the easiest of jobs. ("Hey there, Mr Vet, would you mind awfully putting these hellborn fuckers down?") I should have also told her that I loved her. But in my defence, I had just squeezed a baby out of my front bottom. Plus, I was already very busy worrying about all the other threats to my infant's wellbeing, such as formula milk, overheating, dehydration, failure to thrive, co-sleeping, cot bumpers, sunken fontanelles, germs on toys, prolonged use of car seats, dummies, second-hand smoke, Staphylococcus, paint fumes, vaccinations, antibiotics, television, Norovirus, pollution, carbon monoxide, toxic moulds, pesticides, paint fumes, radon, and FUCKING NIPPLE CONFUSION, and I knew it was only a matter of time before my mind darkened under the pressure ...
NO. PLEASE NO. I DON'T WANT TO GO INTO THE RUBBER ROOM ... OH, HI MAM ...
Needless to say I spent the following year or so policing the door of the dining room, where the cats slept. Some nights, I'd worry that they might master the door handle, and, like Nosferatu, tiptoe silently up the stairs towards the nursery. Or, I'd obsess over the possibility that they were already upstairs, biding their time in a cupboard, even though I'd already seen them through the glass door, minutes earlier. In my dreams they took liquid form, like the T-100 in Terminator 2. They could flow through gaps, and under doors, and do all sorts. The bastards. Of course, in the end, nothing happened. But it could have ... it so easily could have ... miaw ha ha ha ... miaw ha ha ha ... miaw ha ha ha ....
PS I dedicate this blog entry to my cat Patsy, who died on Sunday 19 January 2014. Aged 16.
My daughter's elegy. Now in a jam jar above the grave.
PPS: And if you're wondering why there are no reported incidents of cats harming babies, it may be because of an evil cover-up by a network of shapeshifting witches working undercover in law enforcement. Or not.
(This is an extract from the, er, epic work in progress that is The Extremely Over-Protective Mummy's Handbook: An A-Z of Neurotic Mummy Sh!t)