A Lesson for Marketers from My Crapping Cat
By Ken Magill
My 17-year-old orange tomcat, Reuben, is an asshole. But he’s my asshole. And he has a lesson for marketers.
Reuben is forever trying to assert his dominance over all the people and creatures in our home. For example, he is constantly racing in front of us as we walk, swerving into our path and slowing down.
At night, he crawls into bed with the wife and I and parks himself between our heads. You haven’t lived until you’ve been awakened by slurping noises and opened your eyes to see a cat cleaning his anus three inches from your face.
Reuben also terrorizes our 70-plus-pound Labradoodles. Occasionally, he’ll walk up to one of them and raise his paw as if saying “why you I oughta.” The dogs avert their eyes hoping he won’t take a swipe. They also refuse to walk in or out of the front door if he is near it.
Last week my son came into my office and said: “Dad, can you come out here? There’s poop on the couch.”
There sure was poop on the couch. And though we own three cats and two dogs, I knew the culprit was Reuben.
Spider wouldn’t do such a thing. And Tiny Tina—named after a 13-year-old psychopathic explosives expert in the video game Borderlands 2—was too small to create a mess of such size. The dogs, Willy and Woody, are blocked from the area by Invisible Fence.
As I was scrubbing the soiled area on the couch my right foot slipped in something. Reuben had crapped on the floor, as well. Then my son’s best friend, Brian, showed me his sock which had crap on it. Reuben had crapped on more than one part of the floor.
Fortunately, because we have so many animals, we have no carpeting or rugs.
After scrubbing, de-scenting and disinfecting the couch and the floor, I walked back into the master bedroom and discovered Reuben had crapped all over our bed, as well. So I stripped the bedding and threw it in the washer.
Then I went back into my office and found that while I was cleaning the couch, the living room floor and our bed, Reuben had crapped on my chair, too.
So essentially, anywhere we sat or slept, Reuben crapped.
I got Reuben in 1999 to help with a rat problem I had in my apartment in Jersey City, NJ.
One morning before I got Reuben, I went out into my kitchen to make breakfast and a rat jumped out of the garbage and scurried across the floor into my bathroom.
Even worse, I discovered it had entered my apartment through a hole behind the toilet.
“How many times have I been sitting there reading with one of those f&ckers right behind me?” I thought with a shudder.
I stuffed the hole with steel wool—as friends advised—and went to a restaurant for dinner because I sure as hell wasn’t eating in my rat-infested place, but came back to find the steel wool had been pushed out of the hole all over my bathroom floor.
As that rat and I battled for several days over who owned the apartment, I slept with a towel stuffed under my bedroom door.
When I finally trapped it—I swear it was the size of a small cat—I did a tribal victory dance around his body.
Then I took in a sickly old gray tomcat named Spike. I nursed Spike back to health, gave him a few final good months and then he died.
I then vowed no more geriatric charity cases, went to the Jersey City pound and got Reuben, a fully armed young predator.
I hadn’t known how much stress I had been feeling until Reuben’s presence removed it. Never again did I wake up and find the items on my kitchen counter rearranged. I don’t know if there was only one rat or Reuben kept others away. I don’t care. I do know my downstairs neighbors had rodent problems and I did not.
I have slept with Reuben longer than I have known my wife.
Today, we live in the country on two and a half acres. Reuben is living a nice retirement, killing the occasional chipmunk.
As far as I’m concerned, I owe him this existence for the rest of his life just for making me feel like I could live in my apartment again 16 years ago.
Reuben’s lesson for marketers: If you offer enough value early on in the relationship and get the right brand champion in your corner, later you can crap all over the place and get a pass.