Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm Still NOT a Cat Person...Maybe

                                                        Starlet Crush...with Eyeliner


This summer I got schooled by felines.   I'm a dog person.  Dogs know it.   Cats know it too.   Cats always know who the "I don't like cats" person is in the group.   They signal this knowledge by seeking said person out first and sniffing around her ankles.   This person is frequently a leo.

I have never understood why cats were ever domesticated and why anyone would want a litter box in their living space.   I have never understood why cats would terrorize their people and their people's guests.

Sure, I've met a few cats I've liked along the way.   Most notably Dulcinea and D'Elbow, felines of the highest order--those owned by English professors.   I was charmed by D'Elbow for the main reason that he did not want me to wear him like a hat or become a painful leg warmer when I walked across the floors...and he was orange, the transcendent color of joy.

So why am I telling you about this in my teaching blog?   Because I finally learned my lesson.   First, the next door neighbor's outdoor cat befriended me.   Baby understood how I felt about cats and behaved accordingly.   She didn't shed all over my shins.   She didn't treat me with any sort of aloofness.   She greeted me when I left for work at 6:30 A.M. and when I returned.   She walked around the yard with me during my summer chores.   When Baby had her litter of six kittens, she danced over to our back door to let us know that she was a mom.   Upon returning from a nearly two week trip to the Delta, we saw her run to our driveway with her last kitten to welcome us home before we could get out of the pick-up.   This was not what I thought cats were about.   Was I becoming a cat person?

Also helpful was a marathon of "My Cat From Hell"on the Animal Planet.   In this show, Jackson Galaxy pops open his guitar case full of tools and techniques and helps folks with their naughty cats.   After a few episodes, I was reminded of all of those parenting shows.   Basically, if you give a cats what they need, they will be happy and well-behaved.   Wow.   That was news to me.   Food, exercise, personal space, flat surfaces, warm flat surfaces, warm flat surfaces with a view and a clean place to take care of business.   When those t.v. cats had that, they snapped right into shape.   Nice kitties.

But I didn't need to know all this to continue my relationship with Baby.   She was an outside cat, and not mine, after all.

For reasons that are a too sad to mention here, we are sharing our living space with Baby's last kitten for a little bit.   So far, so good.   I've added Jackson Galaxy's lessons with a little Google research on nutrition.   Starlet is just plain behaving herself.   She hasn't had a single accident under our very watchful and allergic eyes.

And finally being curious about cats after 38 years of being put off by them, I was surprised by what can happen when you recognize "the nature of the beast" and honor that nature.   You'd think someone who has spent most of her time with 8th graders for 13 years would have already known all about that.   Turns out I was just an old dog who needed to learn a new trick.

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