Friday, May 23, 2008

Becoming a cat's human

A cat has joined my menagerie of pets, and she has quickly developed her own personality and, may I say, attitude.

Deadline wandered up to the Winona Times offices one Tuesday night as the staff and I worked late to make deadline for that week’s paper. The name fit perfectly for this very persistent feline.

The entire evening, Deadline waited at the front door – meowing and howling to get our attention. If we went outside to appease her, she would aggressively try to get into the building, and then howl and meow when we did not let her inside.

The next morning, she was still waiting at the front door. Then I fed her, and she was officially mine.

Afraid of what would happen to her if she wandered into Summit Street, I took her home. I created a comfortable living environment for her in my storage room with old bed pillows and blankets, and occasionally, I allow her to come into the kitchen for a few minutes. I am somewhat allergic to cats, and prolonged exposure to their dander tends to make my eyes swell shut (not a good look for me).

Recently, she has decided she would like to live inside the house, and she is once again being very persistent and annoying with her decision. We fight on a daily basis. She comes in, stretches out on the sofa, and glares at me in defiance.

When I tell her “out,” I get a firm, growling meow. When I pick her up to put her out myself, she all but grabs hold of the door frame with her paws.

Cats are odd little things, and I admit I have never caught the cat person’s devotion. Personally, I think cats are too smart to be pets. They are moody, set in their ways, and refuse to follow instruction. Let’s face it – cats are nearly impossible to train.

Several years ago, I visited the Southaven Animal Shelter to adopt the largest cat in the facility. The night before, I was sitting on my sofa watching television, and a rat ran across the floor, stopped, gave me a smug look, and continued on his way. I truly believe that vile, plague-carrying creature smiled at me.

Of course, my family thought I was exaggerating, but unless that rat was wearing white gloves and lived in a castle in Florida, I did not want him for a roommate.

At the shelter, I found a not-so-lean-mean-fighting-machine in a grey, tiger-stripped male cat with an enormous, fat belly and a tiny little head. I named him Ignatius J. Sexton after a character from my favorite book, Confederacy of Dunces.

Ignatius was a strange creature. He would escape from the yard (he was too fat to climb) and prowl the neighborhood in search of food. He would go door to door, and all of my retired neighbors would feed him chicken skins, cans of tuna, and leftovers from the fridge. I was even scolded by my neighbor that Ignatius was starving to death.

His once-enormous belly became colossal, and it would actually sway from side to side as he walked. He looked like a bowling pen when he sat – with his tiny head and enormous belly, and he towered over my dogs in height and weight (around 30 pounds).

He refused to use a litter box and chose to go outside with the dogs. He even licked people like he was a dog.

Ignatius hated my mother, and I am sure it was mutual. He would glare at her and flick his tail in disgust until she left the house.

Once she was babysitting the critters, and Ignatius propped his fat fanny on Momma’s head during the night. It took me a long time to ask her to baby-sit again.

My point is cats are unpredictable. They are stubborn, arrogant, and elitist. Sometimes I get the feeling that they think they are smarter than their human. I know Ignatius did, and I suspect from the cussing I get from Deadline about sleeping in her own room, she does as well.

My question is now that the cat has chosen me as her human, how do I show her I’m the boss? Can you hear me, Cat Whisperer?

1 comment:

AngelMc said...

you can't show your cat who is boss. see the cartoon Garfield....and i quote, "cat's don't ask, cat's take."
that's what makes them a cat. someone said cats were worshiped in ancient Egypt, and cats have never forgotten this.