I heard the delivery truck pull away and went to the front door to collect my Avon order. When I opened the door, Diablo, the neighbor’s black cat, ran out from under a car at the curb and jumped on top of my boxes. I greeted him in surprise. Unlike our fluffy, orange “Rent-A-Kitty“, Diablo usually isn’t socially minded. I was even more surprised when he let me pet him and scratch under his chin. I said, “What’s gotten into you?” That’s when he leapt from the box into my house, shot between my legs and across the living room. I thought, “Oh great,now I’ll have to chase him through the house and under the beds.” I followed him. He was sitting at the kitchen door waiting to be put out on the back deck. The neighborhood cats have taken to sleeping out there on the chair cushions. Since it is pouring rain outside, the quickest and driest path to our covered back deck was through my living room. And we call them dumb animals.
[Um, not a paid post. ‘Case you were wonderin’.]
Pet owners, and those who perceive an advantage from agreeing with pet owners (veterinarians, pet shop people, cemetery operators, Stephen King, psychologists – and not just the ones that treat the animals), constantly extol the virtues of having an adorably furry ball of unconditional love follow you around the house. Especially when you’re working the can opener.
The challenge, for the discerning human, is how to obtain these advantages while minimizing the side effects.
Like, fur. Everywhere.
Like, competition for favored places. The bed, for example. The whole bed.
Like, the cost of pet food. Including the cost of finding a pet food that the pet will actually eat.
Like, the litter box. Not to mention the missed litter box, or, worse, the ignored litter box.
The solution, once you think of it, is obvious. Why buy when you can rent? It seems to be working for the folks who sell bourbon.
That’s pretty much what we’re doing at the Q & A residence. We’re a pet-free household (Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba has had all the experience of missed litter boxes that he requires, thanks). But pretty much every day, a neighbor cat comes to the door, howling and scratching until somebody pays attention. One or both of us come out, pick up the cat (if we don’t, he’ll try to jump up), and there follows several minutes of purring and rubbing and cooing and scratching. And then the cat goes away. Rent-A-Kitty. It’s perfect.
Of course, we are talking about cats, here. There are serious questions about just how much renting a cat will tolerate. I reckon it’s much more like a free-agent market:
“Hey, Fred. What you got?”
“There’s a house over there, and they ain’t got a cat!”
“They also ain’t got dogs or kids. Unlike my current place. Hsssss.”
“That‘ll make your tail happier. Perks?”
“Not much. Water. Though I prefer to drink from the plant boxes. Freaks ’em out.”
“Scope out the house?”
“Won’t let me in. Believe me, I’ve tried. What I’ve seen is cool. I could turn their sofa into fluff in seconds. But they keep talkin’ ’bout a lease.”
“Not a leash, dummy. What kind of silly kitty do you take me for? A lease.”
“Dunno. But it seems to be anti-cat, and the union’d be looking into it if it’d listen to me.”
“Sounds like a lot to put up with for a few strokes.”
“Shows how much you know. Besides, look at me.”
“Hard not to, fatso.”
“Back o’ me paw to you too. So, you think this is the only gig I got going?”
According to the fossil record, dogs have been domesticated for at least 15,000 years (some paleontologists say 17,000) and are descendants of the gray wolf. Some anthropologists actually believe it may have been the wolf that domesticated humans — they propose that some of the possible effects of domesticating dogs could include the shift from scavenging to large game hunting for the purpose of gathering food; the establishment and marking of territories; living in small social groups; working and hunting as a synchronized unit; and facilitating partnership bonds.
Now that’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? As humans we prefer to think that we domesticated the animals, but if you are a pet owner, you are well aware of who has really been trained and who really does the fetching and carrying. Nor that it matters, however the two species came to be intertwined, the history of the pairing indicates that life greatly improved for both species after the union.
My family has had several pets over the years. One year for our wedding anniversary my now ex-husband brought me a sweet little Yellow Lab puppy. The puppy greeted me by jumping all over me, trying to lick my face, and peeing all over my shoes in his excitement. Clearly some behavior modification was in order.
Luckily Georgie was remarkably easy to train. He’d obviously read the dog training manual I checked out of the library because at every instance it seemed he was one step ahead of me. He potty trained in one lesson. Inside of a week he knew sit and stay, plus lay-down and roll-over. Shortly after that he realized he wasn’t allowed in the kitchen or dining room without explicitly being invited. He taught me to play fetch. He learned to shake paws, speak on command, and wait politely while his food was dished out and placed on the floor.
If you are looking for a best-friend, you can’t do better than a well-trained dog. He or she will love you unconditionally, even if you aren’t well-trained.
When I went home last week to spend some time with my family, I met up with a couple of old high school friends. Tory had just moved into his new home and was anxious to show it to me. As we moved from room-to-room I couldn’t help but notice that Tory had some interesting turtle figurines in just about every room. I asked about them and was treated to a wonderful story about Houston, Texas and a borrowed Acura TL.
Tory and his brother, along with their mother and significant others, were visiting Houston, Texas where baby sister was getting married. Tory’s mom is a wedding planner and she was quite busy with the arrangements for Alenna’s upcoming wedding, however the boys and their mates were ready to do a bit of sight-seeing. Their future brother-in-law loaned Tory and crew a cute little Acura TL for getting around.
I don’t know what sights they were seeing, but sometime during the second day of their stay the trouble light lit up the car dashboard and Tory decided the polite thing to do would be to take the car in for an oil change. Since the car bore a sticker from a prominent Houston auto-repair shop that’s where Tory called to schedule the maintenance. Happily, they weren’t too far from a shopping plaza so lunch and souvenir buying were scheduled as well.
Tory said several hours passed. They were shopped out, tired of carrying packages around, and still waiting for their car. He called the repair shop a number of times only to be told the car wasn’t ready yet. It was taking so long they suspected a local refinery must have been manufacturing the car oil especially for them. Finally the mechanic called and told them that their brake job was done. Since he’d taken the car in for an oil change, that wasn’t the announcement Tory wanted to hear.
After much arguing and kerfuffle-ing, the car received it’s oil change and that is the repair bill Tory paid. The family reclaimed their borrowed car and drove away, however they hadn’t gotten very far when one of the ladies let out a shriek and announced there was a reptile under the seat. Since Texas is known for rattlesnakes, nobody asked any questions. Tory pulled over and they all bailed from the car.
They stood alongside the road trying to decide what they should do when Tory’s SIL said she didn’t care how they got rid of the beast, she wasn’t getting back in the car with that ugly turtle. Tory was flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe they had bailed out of the car over a turtle. He double checked and sure enough, there was a little turtle about the size of a tea saucer under the front passenger seat. Tory called his future brother-in-law who denied all knowledge of a turtle in his car. Tory called the car shop, who denied all knowledge of a turtle in the car. Concerned that he might have someone’s illegal pet, Tory took the turtle to a pet store and was told it was an ordinary turtle, not a desert species or endangered.
So, to bring this long story to a close, Tory purchased an aquarium and supplies for the turtle. He spent a week trying to find the turtle’s owner, and finally came to the decision to keep it. Tory shipped the turtle and the aquarium home. And now whenever he travels he picks up a turtle, but after the expense of that first one he’s restricted his collection to brass, glass, wood, ceramic, etc.
Cats love to scratch. Cats love to climb. Cats love to get as high as they can and look down upon their kingdom. Many moons about I had a regal, turquoise-eyed, Flame-Point Himalayan named “Bum” whose preferred perch was the top of the 6 foot high bookcase. From there he ruled the house.
Then we got one of those Cat Condos and put it in front of the living room window. The top floor was his favorite place for bird watching, the the middle ring was his favorite place to lie in wait for the dog to pass by. It was the perfect height for ear bopping.
We also had an ordinary Cat Tree in our bedroom. It had shelves at various levels and Bum seemed to love them all. His favorite though was only a few inches off the floor. It was the perfect height for tacking the ankles of unsuspecting humans.
You have your own chair, right? Why not get your little Fluffy or Tiger his or her own Cat Furniture? I guarantee you the cat will love it and love you for it. (Okay, strike that last bit. You cat may not love you for it, but s.he will appreciate it just the same.)