My older, fatter cat, Jinx, likes to play this game where she gets under the bed-sheets and turns over onto her back, with all four paws sticking up, making a deadly tent of cat fury. She waits for a hand to “attack” her in this position, and she grabs it with her front paws, rakes with her back claws, and bites and growls and twists. Katherine cuts Jinx’s nails regularly, so she usually does very little damage to me or the sheets until she gets a little worked up. When she does, it’s usually her biting that threatens to injure.
She’s not really trying to hurt me; although, I doubt my cat-hostile friends, like Jim, would agree with me. Jim’s a dog person and would take Jinx’s actions as the just the typical thing a vicious nasty ol’ cat would do. I, however, think of it the same way as playing “tug-o’-war” with a dog. While the dog is holding on to the end of whatever, the dog will begin to growl and threaten and make those bug-eyes, snapping its jaw to get a better grip, and it gets more aggressive the longer its playing. It’s the nature of the particular beast.
So really, I usually don’t overreact when Jinx gets a good bite or scratch on me during the game. She hardly plays anymore, anyway, since she’s a bit more mature, and she lets the younger cat do all the dominating.
But a few weeks ago, she jumped up on the bed, got under the sheets, and flipped over. Her nails had just been cut a couple days before. I reached down into the cauldron of death, and Jinx swiped at just the right moment and… Bing! a single claw sunk into my right pinky. I yelped and pulled my hand away. Jinx flipped back over immediately, knowing something was wrong, and got out, back on top of the sheets. Her ears were back, and she walked a bit away from me, as if trying to convince me that she wasn’t the cat that just did that thing that made me react like that.
The shock of it, at first, was all I felt. It hurt, but no more than other lucky shots she’s given me. I looked at the puncture, and it was a slight blue mark right below the fleshy part of the fingertip. Then wave after wave of throbbing pain overloaded my senses. Suddenly, this motherfucker hurt! It was a pain I felt once before, when I got my blood-gasses checked and the pulmonary doctor stuck a needle into an artery in my wrist. He warned me that it would hurt, but I still wanted to punch the guy to get him off of me. If I hadn’t been watching him, I would have sworn he was stepping on my wrist with spiked boots. It was an intense pain.
Now, with this good hit from Jinx, the blood began to flow, seemingly more than should come from a wound that I could barely see. The blood was dark and steady. I’m pretty sure she nicked my vein. For about 10 minutes, I paced from the bedroom to the bathroom and back while holding my hand above my head, pressing a tissue into my pinky. It may have looked like I was trying to staunch the blood flow, and that was indeed what happened, but really, my hand was over my head because I was in a decent amount of blinding pain, and it was the only place that I could hold my hand where I couldn’t look at it. It felt better not to look at it. I kept saying, “Wow,” and “Whoa,” under my breath. I became clammy, sweaty and pale.
Eventually, I washed my finger off, and marveled again at the tiniest of wounds. I put a bandage on it, and it didn’t bleed much again during the night. The pain went away a day later. I thanked Jinx for withdrawing as soon as she hit me, because if she had stayed hooked as I pulled my hand away, there would have been stitches involved that night. Instead, there’s just the tiniest trace of smoothed skin on my finger, three weeks later. Jinx has long forgotten the incident, but we haven’t played the game since. Next time, gloves, for both me and the cat.