Future Cat Owners, Listen Up!

February 28, 2012
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Just let me make something clear: Cats are NOT lazy. And I would be happy to repeat this if some of you do not believe me. Cats are the most spirited creatures I know. They have their own unique personality, and believe me when I say unique. Some cats can be like your best friend. They can lend a listening ear when you are upset, they can pat your back in an effort of encouragement, or they can scratch your face if you cross their path. How do I know all of this? Well, I have had many cats in my fourteen years and no two were anything close to being alike. We had Spice, and I admit she was lazy. But she was an avid mouse hunter when the need arose, she was a playful friend right about noon, and she was a cuddly companion just before the covers were tucked snugly below your chin. She was also very large. Although if you said that to her face, you could expect a cold drift from her whenever you walked into a room.

And then there was Cosmo. Boy was he something. He was a fierce competitor, and tried to eat my kitten Mojo! But I’ll come back to that later. Cosmo was the kind of cat who sprinted out the porch door before the dogs, wanting to have bragging rights about being the first one to explore the new scents. Oh, was he a proud cat! If he caught a mouse, or any other small animal for that matter, he would prance around the house with a pride fit for a king. He was not cuddly, like Spice, and he had boundaries. You were not allowed to pet any lower than his mid back, and only on Tuesdays and Thursdays were you allowed to brush him. Monday, Wednesday and Friday were his hunting days. The weekends were specifically for playing with his feather toy, and nothing was to disturb his routine. In my opinion, he was a great cat. My parents, however, thought he was a bad influence on our dogs, so out the door he went.

By then we had our little kitten, Mojo. Not to be exclusive, but he was my favorite by far. He had such a unique personality you had to wonder if he was a cat at all. He was also large like Spice, but he did not mind. In fact, I created his nickname Fat Cat. Clever, right? Every Saturday morning when I would watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Mojo would sit on my lap. He was weird about how he sat though. He sat in an upright position like a human, and requested that he be cradled if you were going to carry him. Anyways, back to Saturday mornings. While we watched the show, he would do kitty sit-ups. He did not benefit much from this exercise, considering I had to lay him down then sit him up, but it was entertaining to see his sense of accomplishment after he finished his set of 3 sit-ups. He was also an avid eater. I am serious when I say he took his food seriously. If you were in a range of 5 feet from his food bowl, he would lay down on top of it to try and catch my foot with his paws whenever I or anyone else came too close.

Mojo also loved to dress up. One night after cleaning out my closet, I set all of my American Girl doll stuff in the hallway outside my room. Just before I fell asleep, I heard something rummaging around in one of the buckets. When I went to check, Mojo was sitting in the clothes bucket with a pink frilly dress in his mouth. “Oh please!”, I said to the cat, “There is no way you will fit in that dress.” But sure enough he squeezed right in. I went to show my parents, and they about died of laughter. He strutted about their bed, showing off his fabulous dress. That is, until he fell off the bed and landed on his butt. That’s another thing about cats: They do NOT always land on their feet. Mojo is prime example numero uno. Whenever that cat would start to fall, he would stick out his front paws like he was getting ready to dive into the deep end of a pool rather than save himself from a fall. He would land on his belly and glare up at me, accusing me with his eyes. Why didn’t you save me? the eyes accused. The best response is to shrug your shoulders, then walk away. Will he be angry, you ask? No, he’ll get over it. After all, cats attention spans only range from 2-10 minutes, so he is likely to forgive as quickly as he becomes angry.

Another example of cats not always landing on their feet is my grandma’s cat, Poppy. He was very muscular for a kitty, and he had some of the strongest legs on the block. However, when it came down to falling off the couch or rolling off onto his feet, he made the easy choice. Every time he started to slide off the couch, he curled into a little ball and pretended to sleep. When he hit the ground, it was always on his side. He would then extend his legs and pounce back up onto the couch to resume his nap. Sometimes I have to wonder what genius scientist came up with the stereotype of cats always falling on their feet in the first place.

Another major thing about cats that you should know: They have NO interest in being controlled. That is where cats differ from dogs. Dogs feel a sense of pride if they have a master, but cats feel restricted. They like to be the boss of themselves, and occasionally boss you around. Whatever it is, let them do it. I remember Cosmo needed to be able to control. He loved controlling the porch door. If one of the dogs wanted to come inside, I had to wait for his approval. He would bow his head slightly, and that’s when I knew it was safe to go. I learned the hard way one time, though. He was waiting by the door, as usual, and I went to let in our dog. He did not approve, but I let her in anyways. Boy, was he mad! He made a menacing growl deep in his throat, then proceeded to storm outside. We later found out that he had dug a hole and nested himself in it, prepared to go on strike. I got down on my knees to apologize to this royalty, and he replied with his nod of approval. What a strange cat.

One of the best things about cats, I think, is this: They have some serious spunk. My mom had a cat named Murray, and was he an adventurous one! He won fights against raccoons, Rottweilers, and even an arrow from a bow. He was a tough kitty, filled with lots of courage, but he was also a jokester. One night, when my mom was about 18, her younger brother, who was about 15, had some friends over to watch Pet Cemetery. That movie really freaked the girls out, so they traveled in packs to the bathroom. Little did they know that Murray was outside, and he had a special way of letting them know he wanted to come inside. Just as those girls were walking past the screen door, only five feet from the bathroom, Murray pounced on the screen. His claws dug deep into the screen, and he let out a low, moaning meow. The girls shrieked in fear and sprinted in all directions. Poor Murray just wanted to come inside, and he was left hanging. Literally! My mom let Murray in, laughing the whole time. Most cats cannot achieve that level of spunk, but some come pretty close. From that day on Murray was known around the block as the Cat Master of Spunk.

And to conclude my short lesson about cats, do NOT forget the main things that make them tick. Number one: They are NOT lazy. Number two: They do NOT always land on their feet. Number three: Do NOT even attempt to control them. And number four: They have some serious spunk, so do not cross their path. If you did not learn anything from my previous advice, then take some words of encouragement right now: You are NOT suited to own a cat. Thank you, and thank your cats.

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