Saralee Perel

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on

Run For Your Life or My Cat Will Kill You!

It figures I’d get a cat with a mental illness. And she’s been to 3 vets. But then again, I’ve been to 3 shrinks and I’m still this way.

Here’s what happens: Josie (who hates me to begin with) is sleeping. She hears something. She stretches, gives me a look like she has just eaten a bad pistachio, and glances out the window. There’s a cat outside.


In a snarling howling rage, she goes psychotic and turns to attack me. I run screaming into the closet, slamming the door behind me.

After this happened twice, I called the vets at Tufts in Boston. I knew they’d blame me. It’s always the mother’s fault. I worked when she was a baby. I pushed litter training way too early. And the worst of it is, I still let her sleep in our bed.

I could just see it.

Vet: “How long have you been feeling this way?”

Me: “Me? I’m fine. It’s the cat’s problem.”

Vet, snickering knowingly: “Of course it is.”

Me, whimpering now: “I haven’t done anything to make her like this. She came this way.”

Vet, stroking his beard: “Uh huh.”

Me, crouched in the corner, sobbing uncontrollably: “You’re twisting everything around! I’m perfectly sane! It’s the cat who’s nuts.”

Vet, writing a prescription for Prozac: “Come see me in a month.”

Eventually, I found out that Josie has something called Redirected Aggression. Since she can’t attack the outdoor cats, she redirects her exaggerated territorial fury towards me.

The treatment? Keep outdoor cats away. How? Motion-detector water sprayers. Yes, for $90 apiece, we have 4 hideous plastic Toucans that spew water on anything that moves. Our mail-woman got soaked. She wasn’t too  mad, which is good considering her profession. 

I called the SPCA. They suggested, for $300 each, ultrasonic pest deterrent sound systems. We put the speakers outside our windows. Humans aren’t supposed to hear the high pitched squeal. But we do. It sounds like a million mosquitoes on caffeine. Know who doesn’t hear it? Cats.

I went to our local clinic. Our vet, demonstrating unsurpassed expertise advised, “Don’t let your cat look outside.” 

I slapped my forehead, “Why didn’t I think of that?” 

Total cost of blinds? $458. Now our house has a “nobody’s home” look. Burglar alarm? $1750.

Still, we have neighborhood cats. I went to a garden center. “Fox urine,” the fellow said. We bought some. Not only does this smell really, really bad, it stops working after every rain, mist and dew.

I know what you’re thinking. “Call me,” you’re saying. “I’ll tell you what to do with the cat and it will only cost the price of a noose.”

But here’s the thing. I love the cat. The cat is passionate about the dog. The dog is Queen Protector of our two pet ducks.

The ducks love my husband Bob. Bob loves me, and so on.

There’s another thing amazing about Josie. She’ll only lie near us when we have something physically wrong. Before I had my impacted wisdom tooth pulled, she rested against my cheek. When Bob had pain that turned into a ruptured appendix, she laid on his stomach.

But now, I have a fit whenever she hones in on a body part. I call it a cat scan. Last week, she slept on Bob’s groin.

“You need your prostate checked,” I said.

He got annoyed. “I’m not calling the doctor and saying my cat thinks I have a tumor!”

As you’ve probably surmised, Josie’s here to stay. Though it hasn’t been easy going, I don’t know of many commitments that are. I’ve never wished that she was gone; I’ve only wished her problems were.

 And so, nobody visits me. I don’t understand why. I know guests will smell like fox urine, but once they get drenched by the sprayers, the smell always goes away.