Cat affection from a dog person

In a world that likes to classify people, I would have put myself in the dog-person category, thanks to my beloved long-time companion Luke, a golden retriever. My only (brief) experience as a cat owner was in Austin almost four decades ago, and it more closely resembled a housemate relationship. Sweet Pea wandered in and out of the house at will, occasionally supplementing his mouse diet with kibble and accepting a modicum of human adoration before returning to his autonomous doings in the great wide world.

            McGregor, Hamish and Heather enjoy a very different existence. They’re sequestered indoors, though Hamish endured a ten-day “Survivor” drama in the CB South wilds after slipping out the door a year or so ago.

            These three live in a veritable feline Disneyland. The humans in this house have their furnishings, and so do the cats: multiple climbing structures; cubbies and beds; both covered and open litter boxes; cabinets of canned, dry and teeth-cleaning treats; play tunnels; and countless furry, feathery, crinkly, noise-making toys.

            In sharing close quarters with my buddies, I’ve come to realize why cat people are so charmed by their companions. My three housemates are quite distinct, but each is Curiosity on Four Paws. I can open no door – cabinet, dryer, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, toilet lid – without a cat or three appearing as my co-investigator.

            Heather, for all her queenly aloofness, is irresistibly fascinated by the water coming out of the tap. As long as I let it trickle, she crouches beside it, swatting, licking or staring as though she’s receiving some watery divination from the Great Faucet.

            Along with their curiosity comes the inescapable instinct to hunt. When I pull out the toys, even Heather is lured from her lofty perch by the compulsion to chase and pounce. I can see the internal battle playing out in her face: “It’s just a bunch of feathers on the end of a string. Pay no attention. It’s just a bunch of feathers on the end…. ATTACK!”

            Cat curiosity trumps all respect for personal space. McGregor alights on my sleeping form at 4 a.m. most mornings to prod, smell and paw. If he receives no acceptable response, he pokes his nose in my face and sniffs like a suspicious mother checking her teenager’s breath for whiffs of Boones Farm.

            Whatever language cats speak, there’s apparently no word for the concept of obedience. When I command Hamish to get off the kitchen counter, he looks at me with a certain pity. “Oh,” I imagine him saying, “another clueless human who thinks it’s all about what SHE wants.” Luckily, I’m the only one around here who can use the can opener, so I AM allowed to make suggestions.

            I’ll soon return to my own house, which might seem a bit boring without three cats a-prowl in it.  Thanks for hosting me this pet-sitting season, Heather, Hamish and McGregor. 



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