For the larger part of my life I never considered having a cat as a pet. If I had to feed and care for a pet, I would have preferred it be a dog. Dogs are utilitarian pets – they produce a net worth be it as companion, fallen food eliminator or discourager of unwanted guests . They make for a good foot rest, too.
But my daughter wanted a pet. Knowing the effort that goes into the proper training of a good hound, I hesitated. Maybe for too long.
One day a black kitten became available in the neighborhood and, well, I don’t know exactly how, but it wound up at my house. To be honest, I knew it would be a hit with my daughter. Girls love kittens and that is pretty much ‘low hanging fruit’ as far as the whole ‘daddy = hero’ thing goes.
Unfortunately, the farking cat didn’t take to well to her. It would seem that getting swaddled in a blanket and stowed in a basket with only his head showing is not to his liking. Nor are lung crushing hugs or snuggles that impede blood circulation, no matter how much love they imply.
He likes to hide under things when he wants to be left alone. That didn’t stop my daughter from ‘noodling’ for him, reaching under the sofa and catching hold of a leg or tail and extracting him to the light of day. Her only purpose is cuddling him, whether he likes it or not.
His only concern is evasion and escape.
Of course, with this type of behavior on both child and cat’s part we had some issues with scratching and biting. I managed to quell those tendencies with a little properly applied ‘tough love’. It was used on me, and I turned out alright (there isn’t an emoticon made that can accurately depict the amount of sarcasm that was just implied).
Although the cat belongs to me and falls under the general rules of protection (don’t fark with me or mine), there is a hierarchy. You know, a pecking order. It took some time for the cat to understand his place, that being at the bottom. Everyone understands their boundaries now.
But he was born a barn cat and no amount of air-conditioning, sleeping on the bed and puking on the rug will be able to flush that out of him. And why bother trying? To paraphrase Popeye, the Sailor Man ‘he is what he is’.
I will say this much: The rodent population has plummeted around the compound. And that’s a good thing. That, and he hides his own droppings, a big plus. Say what you want about your dogs, but you still have to clean up after them. But the cat – he buries his own. Let’s see your hound do that.
Here I have compiled a list of the before and after details of cat ownership that I have noticed.
Pre-cat: No animals to care for or bills for such.
Post-cat: Vet bills, food bills, food and water fill ups, litter box cleaning.
Pre-cat: Rodents running rough-shod about the compound (27 mice caught in traps one winter).
Post-cat: Automatic rodent control.
Pre-cat: Rugs and carpet in good condition.
Post-cat: Rugs shredded and tufted.
Pre-cat: Laundry room reserved for dirty clothes and the cleaning of same.
Post-cat: Litter box in laundry room emitting horrifying odors.
Pre-cat: Household allergens limited to dust and seasonal pollen.
Post-cat: I am allergic to cats.
Pre-cat: Unbroken skin on fingers and arms.
Post-cat: Scratches and bites.
Pre-cat: Poison ivy danger limited to woods walks
Post-cat: Poison ivy oils linger on cat’s fur, transmits to arms, causes anguish.
Pre-cat: Tendency to sleep through till the alarm.
Post-cat: Awakened by being walked on at 5:30 am or sun-up, whichever comes first.
Then there is the hair, of course. The cat sheds constantly, the better to mark his return path.
I have been able to correct some of the aforementioned items. For instance, he prefers to relieve himself outside. Unless we leave him in when we are gone overnight, he doesn’t use the litter box. He scored big points for that. My allergic response seems to be under control. He does seem to have an issue with binge and purge. He comes in, eats his fill, walks into the living room and pukes on the carpet.
I’m still working on that one.
Being of barn cat lineage he also is naturally tough. Oh, he got his ass kicked at first and we have the vet bills to show for it. But it would seem he came back and established his own pecking order with the locals.
I have him trained to a whistle, so when it is time to come in for the night I don’t have to sound like some kind of lunatic calling for him. And anyone out there who is calling ‘here kitty-kitty-kitty-kitty-kitty’ late at night can be assured that there is someone within earshot muttering, ‘shut the hell up already, you idiot.’