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January 11, 2013

DODD: Sharing the world with cats

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — I have lived with cats for more than a decade. I don’t really know how to describe the experience. It’s a love/hate relationship. And I am sure the hate part goes both ways.

It’s dangerous to generalize when it comes to cats because all cats, like all people, have very distinctly different personalities. The thing I have noticed about our cats is that they can have distinctly different personalities with different people who live in the same household.

Let me explain how I became a cat owner. Actually, in what is now like a previous life, I lived with another cat back around 35 years ago. I was younger then and way more into myself than I am now so a cat was easy to ignore. Actually my personal house pet at that time was a three foot iguana. The other person I was living with actually had the cat. The main thing I learned from that experience was that a cat and an iguana living in the same environment is not what nature actually intended. You rarely see them hanging out together in the wild.

If you have never taught a cat and an iguana to peacefully co-exist you fail to fully realize how man can manipulate nature to his/her advantage. In the end they both actually got along, sort of, when a human was in the house. It was advisable to lock one of them in a separate room when the two of them had the run of the place alone. I believe instinct might have overridden the false friendship that had been forced upon them. In a fair fight the whip of an iguana’s powerful tail and the claws of an attacking cat might have made for an entertaining Facebook nature video.

Anyway, one evening shortly before Christmas many years ago, Cameron was praying as Kim and I were watching — unbeknownst to him — outside his bedroom door. To be a good parent often requires a combination of sneakiness and stealth. Besides that, when you are observing a candid and honest moment of a young child I think you see God’s work at its best.

Anyway, during this particular prayer that evening, he decided to offer up his Christmas wish list and his wish for his soul’s redemption all in one short, quick and to-the-point oratory. It ended with this line, “And please Santa Claus and Jesus for Christmas I want a little baby brother or sister or a kitten.”

As I am sure you might have guessed by now Cameron is an only child with cats.

Anyway, that’s how we got two inside cats and over the years we adopted a dumped stray that was starving in the woods. That is our semi-outdoor cat that we put up in the garage each night for safety reasons as we live in a coyote and fox-infested area of the county. The outdoor cat is by far my favorite of the three. He requires almost none of the creature comforts demanded by the indoor, high maintenance felines.

The house cats are demanding, moody, manipulative, annoying, and in general allow Kim, Cameron and I to live with them. They have me almost totally trained by now so it’s really a pretty good life for them. Kim is much more emotionally accommodating than I am. Cameron has one that acts more like a dog with him than a cat. They are best friends and sleep together. Cameron can get his cat to do almost anything or put up with just about any request willingly whereas if I tried the same thing I am sure he would scratch my eyeballs out.

And cats are the laziest animals that have ever lived. They tend to lie around and sleep during the day when we are required to earn a living. I am sure that I am not the only person to have noticed how lazy cats can be. Name me another animal that actually has a nap named after them?

Cats will scratch anything that is valuable except a new scratching post and you cannot feed them anything with a color that doesn’t match your carpet or furniture schemes. On the plus side you can leave them alone for a week with ample food, water, and a fresh litter box and they only act slightly annoyed to find that you actually have returned there to live.

Cats know when they have you totally under their power and when,  as in my case, you just have loved ones in common.

We co-exist in an OK manner. I even upon occasion find one of them sitting almost regally on the arm of my Lazy Boy enjoying an evening of television by the fake fire in the fireplace. I never saw Norman Rockwell paint a scene with a fake flame heater like we have. His America was of a simpler and different era. Ours is much easier to keep clean.

So much to the chagrin of cat worshippers everywhere I am not under their spell. I do find them relaxing at times when they are not badgering me that incessantly nerve wracking , “Meow, meow” that can make my hair stand on end until I honor their selfish requests to overeat or let them out into the Florida room. They don’t even care if I am wrapped up in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” poured into my chair like a freshly cooled blob of molten lava. You see, with cats, your needs are not really their concern. Unlike a dog that is man’s best friend and loyal to the end, cats are as lovable as the last deed which you performed per their demand.

In the end, I guess my relationship with them is much like that of my old cat and iguana. We understand the living space we all share. To be honest with you in a weird way I even kind of have come to appreciate their company at certain moments. I would probably even miss them if they weren’t around.

And I guess Kim really understands that love/hate relationship thing we share. She doesn’t even feel the need to lock me in a separate room when she leaves the house anymore.

Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com

 

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