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Posted: May 20, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Just being "catty" here

 

So what's a broken vase here and there? The same for a dried arrangement or two. It's really only a few pulled threads on that new sweater.The screen on the kitchen window really didn't do anything but keep out the flies and mosquitoes. And why cry over the shredded arm of that upholstered chair? They're only "things."

 

And cats will be cats. Being cats means being a bit destructive, also deadly, if you had asked the newborn mouse or baby mole that turned up dead on the doormat, presented as prizes to the master and mistress of the house. The mistress promptly started shrieking, and the master had to leap into action to remove the evidence so the mistress would stop shrieking.

Before these two sibling kitten orphans adopted us last fall, I knew little about the ways of cats and, frankly, hadn't wanted to. Getting to know felines is far different from getting to know canines. A dog comes to you with face uplifted, eyes bright, a broad smile and tail swinging enthusiastically from side to side. He doesn't meet a stranger and just knows you're going to love him as much as he already loves you.

It's really very simple with dogs, but cats, not so much. You first must prove you are able to deliver food at appointed hours and then leave them alone. No friendly pat on the head or slurpy lick on the face. "I ‘vant' to be alone," said Greta Garbo famously, a line stolen no doubt from a cat. A cat will choose to get to know you on its own terms and in its own time. It is not for you to say or choose.

Interestingly, our gray babies offered us an olive branch quickly, and we assumed we'd made the cut. They cuddled a bit and followed us around the house, but just as quickly, they could turn chilly and nonresponsive. An olive branch can be withdrawn as quickly as it's offered. Expecting them to snuggle down on the couch with us just didn't happen until they figured out it was the best place to stay warm on a winter's evening. At least for a brief moment. Being nocturnal creatures, they demanded to be outside until they decided it was time to turn in. We could but sit and wait. Meanwhile Sonny the dog slumbered peacefully under our feet, glad simply to be close to us.

It's been seven months since they picked us out to be their caretakers otherwise known as servants, and the kitties have decided to bequeath their favors upon us. Sometimes they can't seem to get enough of us. They'll roam around on computer desks, inserting themselves between the monitor and us, tap dancing gently over keyboards to send their own messages and totally obliterating whatever was in the works. At the most inopportune times, they'll want to be picked up, held and stroked, to the point of falling asleep. And they don't bother to ask what else we might have been planning to do. On the planet from which cats come, they control time, not the way time controls us on this planet.

I am loathe to confess the following because my dear and beloved dad is going to roll over in his stately grave. He'll never believe his daughter has come to this. The cats, dear readers, are occasionally sleeping with us. I hang my head in my own disbelief. When the early spring brought those unexpectedly hot days and nights - before chilly temps returned - we decided that sleeping in the garage where we secured them overnight might prove to be too hot and uncomfortable for them. Rather than leaving them outside all night, prey to who knows what, we decided to try to bed them down with us.

This was a decision made inexplicably by two college-educated, traveled and professional people. Silly people. This is when we learned that cats at various points in the night choose to roam around the premises, stroll over your heads and across your pillow, sniff and purr in your ear, balance on your chest to determine signs of life, then settle into new positions that will force the human sleepers into contortions not seen outside a yoga studio. We also learned that 6 a.m. is their preferred hour to arise and battle each other for dominance on and off the bed. Perhaps we'll move into the garage.


Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.

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