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Sat, Aug. 17

Pete's Doorman

Ask anyone. A cat is notoriously independent. I can live with that. I have several cats; or rather there are several cats that live in my house. You don't own a cat. You can own a dog, or a horse, but you can't own a cat. They will tolerate you, and sometimes even make a show of affection, but as soon as their needs are met, they're off.

A number of years ago we found two kittens that had been abandoned in the desert. We brought them home and cared for them, and because we could think of no better name at the time, named them "Pete" and "Repeat", or just "R-P."

As all kittens are, they were cute, cuddly and playful. As they got older, they became less cute and playful. They still liked to cuddle, usually at night when we went to bed. They would stake out their spot, and we would have to arrange ourselves around them. Should we fail to accommodate them, they would wait until we were asleep, and then begin to walk on us. It is very difficult to sleep when a cat is walking up and down your body.

We had Pete and R-P for about two years. R-P was yellow and white; Pete was gold with white marks. Both were males and were very unhappy when we had them neutered. I remember Pete sitting on the floor glaring at us. Now I have no idea why he was mad at me, I had had nothing to do with it. My wife and daughter had performed that chore, I was nowhere around. I can only surmise that he felt that guys are supposed to look out for each other.

A few weeks ago while talking with my older sister Frances, she startled me with the comment that she did not think I was a cat person. I guess I should not have been too surprised; my parents did not care for cats. As near as I can recall this resentment began early in their marriage.

They had been married for a short time, and had somehow acquired a cat. One evening, they had occasion to step outside with dinner still sitting on the table. When they came back in, they found the cat on the table helping itself to dinner. Dad went ballistic, mom was appalled, the cat was given a new home, and they both swore that they would never allow another cat in the house.

My dislike was only cursory, and when my new bride wanted a kitten I easily acquiesced. I think that I have always had at least one cat around the house. I never got close to them, it would be my wife's cat; we (the cat and I) would develop a mutual toleration agreement. You sleep on your side of the bed, and I'll sleep on mine.

Perhaps because now that I am older, or maybe because the cats are older, I find that I am much more tolerant of them. I am amazed when they jump in my lap and permit me to pet them, or give them some of my milk, and, perhaps share my bologna sandwich with them.

Have you ever noticed that a relationship with a cat is totally one sided? They will allow you to do for them. Feed them, love them, clean their litter box and buy them catnip and toys, but never they never return a show of affection?

I have tried to understand my cats. I really have. I bought some books that were supposed to help me. The first had the ominous title "Everything cats expect you to know." That sounded good. I was astounded at all the stuff I was supposed to know. No wonder my cats don't like me. They must think I am pretty dumb.

This book covered all the ways for me to cater to their every whim, need or desire. I have only thumbed through it, reading parts. If my cat expects me to actually read it, then I'm afraid he's going to need more than nine lives. They should just be happy that I buy them food and let them sleep in the house.

Another book I bought was "The official cat I.Q. test." This book offers a number of situations, and possible reactions by the cat to each scenario. I gave my cat this test. It only took three days; he would get bored and start staring out into space. I was not surprised at the result. If this test is accurate, my cat is severely retarded. I guess that is why he will only go in and out the front door instead of using the doggie door on the back porch.

I just received a catalog from a book club I belong to. They had a new book listed. "How to entertain your cat." I won't buy that one. My feeling is if the cat doesn't want to watch the ball game, he can go help my wife clean house.

I am basically a dog person. Dogs are loyal, obedient, eager to please and quick to respond to any display of affection. Whenever I want to go somewhere they are ready. I never have to wait for them to dress or fix their hair. If I want to play ball or go for a walk, they are at the door waiting for me. I've never seen a cat do that.

You can also teach a dog to perform various tricks. You can't teach a cat anything. I have several books on dog training. I have never even seen one on training a cat. I will admit, however, the dog books haven't been very successful, I can't get the dog to read them.

If you were to look in the dictionary under "aloof, stand offish, condescending, and demanding" you would find a picture of Pete. Pete is the epitome of feline condescension. He will wait until I start walking down the hall, them he will jump out and saunter along in front of me. If I suggest he move his butt, he will stop and give me a look like "So what's your problem?" he doesn't understand that my problem is I am trying to get by and he's in the way. But that's Pete.

When I remodeled our house, I installed a "doggie door". Pete will not use it. He insists that we get up and open the front door to let him out, and later to let him back in. I tried to explain to him that I was not a doorman, and was rewarded with "the look", "so what's your problem?"


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