My Cat Is A Monster
by Steven Capobianco
I remembered a time when Max was loving and compassionate. Every day, he would snuggle with me in bed and he’d rub me awake when I slept in. Even though he was my only cat, no one could match his kindness. I remembered a day when he would meow at me just for staring at him and would purr when I fed him. A day when he would sleep on my chest when I sat on the couch, or when he rolled on his back to get a belly rub, something most cats wouldn’t allow. He was the best cat ever.
But those days are over.
Three months ago, I landed an office job for a law firm. Amazing pay, great benefits, and close to home no less. I was so busy that had no time for my cat. Some days when I came home, I would spend at least a minute with Max, or at most, rub him as a hello, and eat my food. Other days, I’d fall on the couch and sleep, hearing the outpour of cries from Max. At first, I managed, but then came an assignment that made me commit to overtime.
And then the transformation began.
Two months prior, my company received the biggest client in its entire history. Failure was not an option, so our boss made us work two extra hours to make sure this was the best it could possibly be. With the deadline looming, we had to give it everything we had. My boss loved putting pressure on me. I didn’t get home until eight that night. My white dress shirt was wrinkled and the coffee stain on my khakis was still there from this afternoon. As I went inside, I threw my bag on the couch.
“Hey Maxy, Max,” I said. “Sorry, I was–“
Max sat on the kitchen table where I ate. His glare was sharp and cold. Strange bumps that resembled spines crawled along his back. This wasn’t the sweet, angelic cat I knew.
“Max?” I asked. “What’s with that look?”
I approached him, but before I could get close enough, he swatted at me and instead of hissing, he roared.
“Max?” I said. “Are you okay? Just…just calm down, okay?”
Not that he could talk to begin with, but that demonic scowl never left him. Up close, I noticed fangs. I held my hand out, but he got me with a swipe. It wasn’t terrible, but I couldn’t let it sit. I ran to the bathroom down the hall and cleaned myself up. I made sure I washed my hands, applied cream, and wrapped a bandage around it. I never knew what my cat dug into, so a scratch was no laughing matter. Not that being this much of a jerk overnight was a laughing matter either. At first, I thought he was just being angry. After all, I worked overtime and never had time for my cat. But to do this was beyond my understanding, especially for a sweet thing like him.
He sat in the hall, watching me. I approached him, taking care not to make the same stupid decision twice.
“Max?” I asked. “Want to go to the vet?”
No response. Cold, emotionless, anticipating a kill. That how it would end up. He hissed and trotted back to his bed. I wondered if this was just a phase, him getting older, and this would all pass by tomorrow. I went to my room to think this over.
On my way home from work, I thought about Max. I figured last night would be much worse, but trying to piece together his attitude proved to be difficult. I glanced at my arm. The bruise grew worse, and the cut wouldn’t go away. Cat scratches were bad, but I did wash it off.
I arrived home for the weekend, yawning. I knew I was tired, but it felt like I yawned more than usual. As soon as I opened the door, I knew something was wrong. Not only did Max grow another foot, his spikes were more pronounced. His white fur turned a shade of red.
I went to my knees. “Max? Are you okay? What on earth happened to you?”
He slowly trotted over, each sway of his body looked like he was possessed. It was as if he was on the hunt. He approached me and roared in my face. After that, he went to his bed in the corner and slept.
I kept thinking about what caused this. Was it my job? It wasn’t like pets were lonely. Then again, it was just me and him. Even so, this whole “transforming into a monster thing” was beyond my understanding.
Perhaps he was hungry. I did sometimes forget to feed him. Granted, he had food from this morning by the time I fed him, so maybe a full stomach would help. I went into the kitchen and got a bag of salmon-flavored kibbles from the cabinet. Sweet Treats-brand, his favorite. Once I opened the bag, he charged at me.
“Max, hold on, I—“
With a powerful swipe, he tore it open, spilling food all over the floor. One pile in front of him was a mound. Before I could make any comment, he spewed fire, scorching the kibbles into cooked fish byproduct. He ate it without any sort of care.
I shook my head, saying to myself that this was all a dream. I even pinched myself just to be sure. Sure the roaring was surreal, but the fire-breathing left me weak. I sat there, watching the insanity unfold, but processing all of this in a few days was maddening. I kneeled beside him.
“Max?” I asked. “That is you, right? Are you really…my cat?”
Max ignored me and resumed eating. I tried to pet him, but he swiped at me again. That wasn’t enough for him, so he pounced on top of me. He was bigger than before, so he pushed me down like I was prey to him. His roar sent burning hot saliva splattering on my face. Then he then walked off and went back to bed.
I held myself, watching my cat grow into this evil beast before my eyes. This was my pet cat, who would cuddle with me at bedtime and play with his toys. My cat who meowed every time I came home and rubbed against my legs non-stop. My cat who was more than a pet, but my best friend. That was gone now. My cat was a monster. Nothing I could do could change that.
But perhaps there was a way to get him back. Get back the cat I loved. So I decided to call the vet to see if they could help me. As I heard the dial tone, Max snored like a mix between a tiger and a motorboat. I felt the bile in my throat after hearing that. My angel, who had the cutest meow ever, reduced to some horrid monstrosity of his former self.
“South Brook Medical,” the receptionist said.
“Hi, my name is Jason Thomas.”
“How may we assist you, Mr. Thomas.”
“It’s my cat. Now, listen, this might be hard to believe, but it’s the truth. You see, my cat’s become…monstrous.”
“Lately he’s been attacking me, but today, I saw him transform into this red monster.”
“Red monster. Sir, I don’t…”
“Listen, I know it’s hard to understand, but I’m telling you the truth.”
I could hear her sighing over the phone. “Okay, go ahead. Your cat is becoming disobedient, right?”
“You could say that,” I replied. I didn’t feel like convincing her otherwise. “Just today, he grew another foot and started breathing fire.”
“Fire? Sir, you know what you’re saying right?”
“Listen, I’m just as disturbed as you are, but you have to believe me. I have the marks to prove it. I mean, let’s be real, how often do you see a cat spew fire like some kind of furry dragon, right?”
I chuckled, trying so hard to compose myself.
“I’m sorry, but we can’t help you here. Have a good day.”
She hung up. Max stretched and yawned, but he ignored me and went off. Even though I was surprised that he hadn’t killed me, I knew he was up to something. I checked my arm again. The bruise was worse. Thinking about it made me lightheaded. Perhaps the woman was right. Maybe I was just going crazy.
One way or another, I would figure out the mystery behind all of this.
The weekend arrived and I wanted to go back to bed. I sat up, but my whole body ached as if a twelve-ton boulder was on my chest. My arm looked ragged as if I just aged fifty years. My wound grew worse, now numerous veins sprouting from it. I began to sweat. Just what the hell did Max do to me?
Dressing up was a nightmare, but once I put on my regular clothes, I went downstairs to see what my monster cat was doing. Upon entering the living room, I saw my tiger-sized cat sleeping in the corner. His spikes were long and sharp, his spines standing like knives, and his fur shaded blood red.
Whoever this cat was, he wasn’t my precious angel any longer. I still couldn’t figure out how this happened. Sure nasty cats were common, but this was far beyond my understanding. I didn’t even want to go near him.
I made some breakfast. A piece of bread this time. I didn’t feel like eating anything else. On top of feeling weak, my cat could kill me at any moment. Once I sat down, Max came over. I stood motionless, waiting for the inevitable. I took slow bites, each one deliberate to make sure Max didn’t kill me. Then, he curled up by the sink.
There had to be a way to cure him, so I got my laptop and searched for anything that could help him. I kept my eye on Max, just in case he made his move.
Typing was agonizing, but I managed. I searched “monster cat.” Everything was either a nasty cat or a story about an evil cat. Nothing helped my problem. I used as many search terms as I could think of. There’s no way this could be real, right?
Just when I was about to give in, I found a website. “Cassie McAllen’s Paranormal Detective Agency.”
Paranormal investigators? I assumed they were actors on TV who went around pretending that ghosts were real. Curious, I clicked the page. Two-thousand-and-one design aside, she was close by. Open on weekends no less.
Before I could search further, the doorbell rang. Max jumped and snarled.
“Easy Max,” I said. “It’s just a–” My cat screeched. “Max, stop!”
He charged through the door, tearing it off its hinges. The kid screamed for his life. He pounced upon him and scorched him to ash. I went to my knees, staring at what happened. My own cat, my angel, murdered a young man barely out of his twenties. And for what? Food? I glanced at the neighbor across from me, dropping his hose, just as disturbed as I was. He ran inside. I was a dead man. The police would be at my doorstep within the hour, maybe faster. Max went inside, ignoring me as he went back to sleep.
I couldn’t move. Would the cops even believe me? My cat turned into this freak of nature, and I’d spend a lifetime in prison because of this.
The paranormal investigator! I stumbled to my computer and found the site again. On the top right corner was her number. I fumbled with my smartphone and dialed as fast as I could. As I listened to the tone, I glanced out my window, checking on the cops. I had to make sure Max didn’t escape to cause more trouble. This was bad enough already.
“Hello?” A woman said on the phone.
“H-hi, my name is Jason Thomas. Is this the Paranormal Investigator? Cassie McAllen?”
“Yes. How may I help you? You sound troubled.”
“It’s my cat. He turned into this monstrous creature and he just killed someone outside my house. My body is shriveling and I need help, now!”
“Calm down sir. I’ll be right over.”
“Thanks. My address is 127 Rose Street. Please, get here as soon as you can.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes. Please, try to calm down. You’ll get help, I promise.”
She hung up. All I could do was wait. Either for her or the police.
Even reclined on the couch, my body ached and my bones felt like glass. Any moment now, the cops would arrive. I considered running away and starting a new life for myself, but I couldn’t exactly leave Max alone. And if I stayed, the police would arrest me in no time.
Max was in his bed, sleeping. Not a single inch aside from breathing. To think such a big cat wouldn’t think of killing me right now. It was obvious what he was doing. Between my sickness and the murder, he wanted to see me suffer. He was going to kill me, but he wanted to prolong the inevitable. I checked my arm, pruned and brittle veins now visible across my entire skin. The scratch was now a giant mark, like an opening. I didn’t feel old, but I could easily pass as a hundred-year-old man. Maybe two hundred.
A car door slammed outside. Forcing myself off the couch, I slowly hobbled towards the window, taking in short bursts of breath each time I did so. I figured it was a police car, but it was a black van with the words “Cassie McAllen’s Paranormal Detective Agency” on the side.
Once I was outside, she saw me, her mouth partially open. She had to be about my age, her late twenties. She had oval-shaped glasses and dressed more like a librarian than a detective. But her face told me everything about my condition.
“Mr. Thomas?,” she said, holding her chest. “You look…awful.”
I figured she’d react that way. How could anyone not notice this? She held out her hand.
“Cassie McAllen. Pleasure to meet you.”
I shook back. “Thank you for coming.” Due to my raspy voice, I hacked away. Cassie immediately took notes upon my coughing fit. “The police might be here any moment.”
“I’ve dealt with similar incidents, equally involving the police. Most usually don’t live this long. You said something about a monster cat?”
“Yeah,” I coughed again before continuing. “You see, he was perfectly normal and a complete angel before, but he’s a giant monster and now,” another cough erupted, “he’s trying to ruin my life. As you can see, he’s done this much damage to me.”
“No kidding,” she said. She noticed the scorch marks on the grass beneath her. “I assume this was the guy who died?”
“Yeah. I had to dispose of his body somehow.”
“That must have been traumatizing.”
“Painful too, with how I am now,” I said before coughing once more. “Do you have any idea what could have caused this?”
Cassie held her hand to her chin and hummed. I glanced inside and saw Max moving around. Either he was searching for me, or he didn’t care.
“What happened prior to this?”
“I got a job recently, but doesn’t that happen to everyone?” Yet another cough. “I mean, I didn’t have a choice. I’m one guy and my family is in another state.”
“Anything about this job that’s putting you two into such a hostile atmosphere?”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a story amongst paranormal investigators like myself where one man worked so hard that he starved his pet. His pet became a monster and killed him.”
“So this is…normal?”
“Have you been neglecting your pet?” She said as if she didn’t hear my question.
“I’ve been giving him attention.” I took a short breath. “But yes. A few times, I’ve ignored him. Often I was so busy that I’d forget to feed him. I’ve had my job for three months, but this only happened recently. And Max hasn’t killed me yet. I mean, he roared and swiped at me, but I’m still here.”
“Yeah. It’s rare for you to live so long. Okay, based on what you’ve told me, this is a case of Emotional Rage. Basically, they’re so mad at their owners that become monsters and eventually gain the mentality to kill their owners. It’s nothing that unusual. One day, they’re fine, the next, they snap and kill people.”
“Do they transform red beasts?”
Cassie held her chin as if I said something stupid.
“Not that I know. They usually stay perfectly normal. Their eyes might glow red, but that’s about it. As for the sickness, judging by your progress, you’d be lucky if you’d survive by tonight. Now, having said all of that…I’m afraid I’d be powerless to help.”
I coughed again, so hard that it sent me to my knees. I had never coughed this bad in my life, to the point where I could die right now. I inhaled as best as I could, doing all I can to stay alive.
“So…I’m going to die?” I asked, wheezing.
“All I said was I’d be unable to help. This is something you have to do.”
“He’s like this because you’re neglecting him. Going home and starving him shows that you haven’t done a good job of taking care of your cat. He hasn’t killed you yet because he still thinks you’ll make amends. This whole transformation, it was because he became bitter and hateful at how you put your job over him. How you’ve neglected him so badly. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last chance he gave you. Does that sound reasonable?”
I had never considered that. I thought I was giving him enough love and care, but I was actually putting Max’s life in danger. He wasn’t healthy and I would have killed my cat if I hadn’t known any better. I swallowed my guilt and nodded.
“What you need to do is make it up to him. Confront him and promise that you’ll spend an equal amount of time on him as you would your job. Do that…and you’ll get your cat back.”
Was it truly that simple? Just apologize to him? Somehow I doubted that, but at this point, anything would work. I stepped inside, but Cassie came in with me. Max circled around the living room, hissing at us.
At that moment I sense Cassie’s fear. She dealt with incidents like this, at least she told me as much, but I knew this was her first encounter with my monster cat. She composed herself but stayed close to the door.
“So what do I do?” I asked.
“Confront him and show him you truly care.”
I gulped. Max growled, and he was ready to kill her like she did that young boy. I didn’t want another murder on my hands, whether it was my own life, or Cassie’s.
Max roared and swiped at me. I put on a straight face and nodded.
“Max, I want to apologize.”
A soft growl came out of him. I slowly approached him.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for neglecting you. I was so focused on my job that I’ve never had time for you. I want things to go back to normal. To go back to how they were. I’ll focus on you more often. If you truly care about me…then allow me this chance to make amends.”
I went to my knees, tearing up.
“Let’s go back to how things were. Let’s have fun together, just you and me. Please, Max? I just want my friend back.”
I closed my eyes and cried. I was scared, but I was scared of losing him. Then, I felt a warm, sticky lick on the side of my face. Max was calm. I held his head close and nuzzled him. Before I had a chance to say anything, I heard sirens.
“Cops!” I said.
Max growled. I held my hand out.
“Max, please, stay calm!”
As the police cars rolled up, Max’s roar echoed across the neighborhood. He ran outside and bared his fangs at them. Three cops came out and pointed their guns at him.
“Wait!” I said, holding my hands up. “Don’t shoot him!”
Max didn’t listen and took down one of the cops with a slice. The police shot relentlessly at him, but that didn’t faze him. He spewed fire, two cops avoiding it. They fired, but even if his body filled with holes, they couldn’t stop him. He lunged at one cop and pounced upon him, scorching him to ashes.
I couldn’t understand why he did this after my apology. Was he protecting me? I tried to run out to save him, but Cassie pulled me back.
“Don’t!” he said.
“He’s my friend!”
“You’ll just get yourself killed!”
Max charged at one officer, who poured a string of bullets in him. Max grabbed him by the mouth and threw him in the air. The cop landed in his mouth and jerked his body, ripping him to shreds. The cops were dead. Another massacre at my hands. I went to my knees as Max came over to me, but he slumped over. His agonizing breathing left me to crawl over to him. I held max’s large head in my hands and he meowed one last time. He closed his eyes, and I closed mine as I held him tight.
“I’m sorry,” I said, gasping for air. “It’s all my fault. I should have fed you, treated you better. Please…Rest.”
Tears poured, my sobs bringing more pain. I held Max tight, hugging him as if I’d lost my son. All of this effort to get him back, and now I’m left with nothing. I whispered in his ear, “I won’t forget you. You’re always my friend.”
I woke up the next day to complete silence. Granted, it was like that when Max transformed, but Max wasn’t here. As soon as I realized that, I cried. I failed to save him and now, I had to pay the price. I checked myself. Back to normal, no withering or anything. Getting up was still slow, but it wasn’t agonizing.
Once I was dressed I went downstairs to an empty living room. No Max. I should be thankful that I’m not in danger anymore, thanks to Cassie, but without Max, I felt a piece of myself missing. I found a note card on my dining room table from Cassie herself.
I’m sorry for what happened to Max. It was a force out of your control, but I hope you understand why it happened. I’ll give Max a proper burial. Just take it easy and you’ll be fine. Don’t forget about him.
I didn’t feel like staring at a bill, especially after what happened. I checked the news and it was all over TV “Giant Monster Cat Wreaks Havoc In Neighborhood.” I wasn’t mentioned, only referenced to. I guess I was thankful for that much. I was let go by the police once Cassie explained the situation, but I was to blame for all of this.
As I sat on the couch, I thought about what happened to Max. Had I known beforehand what he would become, I could have done something about this. I knew I was working too hard, but I neglected my friend at the same time. Never again. At that moment, I considered getting another pet, but it was too soon for that. I relaxed, overhearing the news.
Demon cat, monster cat, Frankencat, the list went on. Some called it some CGI prank, something out of a movie. But none of them understood what I went through. No one will.
The next day, I prepared to head out to work. My big project was due, but I knew I didn’t put much work into it with this whole mess. I put on my work clothes and got my car keys. I wanted to say goodbye to Max, but I knew he wouldn’t hear me.
Outside, I got into my car, taking a big sigh before starting the car. I glanced at my window and I swore I was going crazy. A white-furred cat sat in the window but left once he saw me. Was that Max? I swore I could have seen him. No, I was going crazy. Perhaps this was Max’s way of apologizing, but I should be the one apologizing. With a smile, I headed to work.