My Dad grew up on a farm. My Mom did not. This causes some…friction. For example, when asked the question, “Are you going to get a pet?” They respond:


We children would NEVER take sides in parental disputes.


I’m not entirely sure why, but Mom gave in and allowed us to get dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, fish, frogs, and hermit crabs. The only thing she set were limits. We could not have more than two dogs and two cats at any given time. This is actually quite generous, considering that cats sense hostility and respond in kind.


It is not uncommon to see a broomstick-brandishing Mom chase a cat down the hall after they have done something to her bed or in her bedroom.

Dogs sense hostility too, but they attempt to love their way out of the situation. Also, we are not allowed to have inside dogs, so Mom is able to maintain a truce of sorts with them.

She hates the cats.


I am not the biggest cat lover either; give me a choice, and the dog will win every time.


When I was a teenager we had an epidemic of abandoned cats in town. My sisters, without fail, would immediately adopt it, even if it was obviously feral and possibly rabid.


Dad used to “take care” of the problem, but became soft in his middle age. Mom was forced to look elsewhere for help.
That Christmas my parents got me a gun. I used to think it was so Dad could take me shooting; I realize now that Mom was preparing me for a career as a feline hitman.
About a month later, a black cat appeared in the yard, howling at the door against the cold and the snow. My sisters fell in love. That Saturday Mom sent all my siblings to the library, but kept me home. As soon as the door shut, she turned to me and said,


Being both fifteen and trigger-happy, I complied.


 My sisters were very upset. Until the next day when they found another cat.

It became almost like clockwork. A cat would appear, my sisters would fall in love, and the order would come down for the cat to disappear before they became too attached to it. This started happening so often I even came up with a uniform I’d wear.


This looked really cool in my head. Then my drawing skills got in the way and I just look like an aging French gigolo.

Mom and I became drunk with power. As the hit jobs progressed even the indoor cats were not safe. More than one cherished pet vanished into the night after my sisters went to bed. Mom’s standard for keeping cats began to rise dramatically. It used to be “That cat peed in the sock drawer. FINISH HIM!” to:


I think Dad was vaguely aware that something was amiss. My sisters, though, never caught on. Until one terrible, terrible night.
We used to have a cat, named Cassie. Cassie was evil.


If Cassie had been a human, she would have been the lady that makes minimum-wage cashiers cry over a thirty cent price dispute.
My sisters and Dad, being soft and weak, loved Cassie. Mom and I saw the truth. The cat was a demon in disguise. Both of us longed for the day she could vanish into the night like so many other, less-deserving cats had done. However, Dad had forbidden this cat from such a fate. “Cassie stays,” he told Mom. He was…blunter…to me.


Over the years, Cassie got fatter and meaner. Not long before my LDS mission, she committed the Unforgivable Feline Sin in our house: peeing on clothes. This Sin has done in many a cat. I wept with happiness, for surely her day of reckoning had come!


It hadn’t. Dad decreed that Cassie was an outdoor cat from now on. She would still live. The situation, however, rapidly became untenable. At the first crack of an open door, Cassie would tear into the house. Usually she went straight to Mom and Dad’s bedroom and peed on something of Mom’s.


At this point my Grandma Joy called. She was getting rid of her cats, having become allergic, and wanted to give us one. Dad said yes. Mom refused point blank. We already had Cassie and another cat (named Cosmo) and one or the other had to go.
Dad didn’t say yes, but neither did he absolutely forbid it. The order came down. I suited up, waited for my sisters to go to bed, and went out into the dark night to do my dark deed.
I need not go into details. Suffice it to say that it took forty five minutes, multiple bullets and my sisters heard me. I was almost unrecognizable when I re-entered the house an hour later.

I told Mom I was never going to kill a cat again, and I have been true to my word. Since that day I haven’t even been able to shoot a gun; mine is buried in my parents’ basement and rusted through.
My sisters did not speak to me for a month. Dad never got mad at me; I think he figured I had learned my lesson. Mom hasn’t found anyone else to do her kill orders, and the cats we have now know they’re completely safe. Even the strays love to come up to the door and stare inside, smirking at my mom through the glass.


She and I both agree that that is an acceptable punishment for the two of us.