Martin Lawrence embraces the life of a celebrity. He’s well-groomed, dines on the finest cuisine and has the most comprehensive health plan. Life is good, especially when you’re the king. The trouble is, this Martin Lawrence is neither a Hollywood comedic lion nor the shining star of the movie “Bad Boys.” This Martin, our Martin is a cat. He just doesn’t know it.

I have to admit that I have sent Martin mixed messages since rescuing him from the shelter. Reflecting on some of my over-indulgences, I see where I may have blurred the line between human and feline family members.

On one of Martin’s routine vet checks, I got a warning. Since Martin is a white cat who likes to sit in the sunlight – inside the door, that is – he is more susceptible to getting skin cancer. I had specific instructions to find lick-proof sunscreen for his nose and ears. I frantically searched for this product unfamiliar even to pet store employees. But, I was on a mission to beat any rapidly multiplying carcinoma, imagined or real. I finally found a suitable product, and had it shipped—from Belgium. Whew. Close call.

I also left this appointment with a plastic toothbrush and toothpaste to keep Martin’s gingivitis at bay. What I wasn’t told was that the phrase, “It tastes just like chicken,” doesn’t apply to cats. Nobody mentioned that the poultry-flavored toothpaste wouldn’t be enough of a selling point to coax Martin from under the bed. I certainly didn’t get the tip that maintaining Martin’s oral hygiene could become disruptive to my life. I had to learn that on my own, after arriving late for an appointment.

“I’m sorry I’m late. I was brushing my cat’s teeth,” I matter-of-factly explained to my friend.

The look I got said it all. Apparently not everyone is willing to go to the ends of the earth (or under the bed) for their pets’ healthy gums. Imagine that.

Martin and I both would soon get a reality check. The movers were on their way. My mom was already ill-prepared for the transition of her home becoming a household of five. Five humans, that is. Clumps of cat hair and litter boxes didn’t match her Oriental décor. Martin’s human grandma was preparing a special place for him–in the garage.

Determined to curb the impending isolation and loneliness that would surely send him into shock, I scheduled a play date with a neighbor’s two cats.

As Martin stepped into his cardboard carrier, I waved to my family. “We’ll probably be back soon,” I said. “You know, Martin doesn’t like cats.”

We were welcomed into a beautiful home. Like a bachelor getting his last taste of freedom before his wedding, I hoped Martin would take advantage of this final opportunity to relax in the plush white carpet, a far cry from the concrete he would soon call home. I opened Martin’s carrier and watched him tentatively work the room, sniffing every corner. He wasn’t impressed. I could almost hear him thinking, “It smells like cat.”

A pile of feline fluff rested by the fireplace, much too uninspired for a formal introduction or territorial claims. As Martin eased his way toward the fireplace, a sound arose from the belly of the fluff pile, unrecognizable yet distinctly cat-like. Martin didn’t speak the language, yet he understood, complied and moved on, coming to a complete halt at the bottom of the stairs.

A young and feisty cat at the top of the stairs hissed. Martin’s hair rose and his mouth quivered. Clearly, it was time to go.

Pleasantries and apologies exchanged, we got back in the car and headed home, home to a blanket, a crate and a cat toy, home to life as a commoner. After all, Martin Lawrence is a cat. I just didn’t know it.

Note: Martin is well taken care of. But since my mother’s health took a turn for the worse, we are actively trying to re-home him so he can have an even more amazing life. 

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