Voices


Front Porch: Cat coolness mystifies dog person

THURSDAY, AUG. 15, 2013

Georgie the cat lives in a nice house in Wenatchee.

Also living there is my sister-in-law Barbara, upon whom Georgie bestows what passes for feline affection when and if the mood strikes him. There are others in the home, but they are pretty irrelevant to him.

It has been made clear that it is Barbara’s prime responsibility to purchase only Georgie’s favorite brand of food, since he won’t eat just anything, and keep his dish full at all times, as he will eat only when he wishes and not according to anyone else’s schedule. She is also to keep the litter box refreshed and otherwise cater to his majesty in most all things – either that or good luck getting any kind of one-on-one purr time. From what I can see, while she is busy tending to his lordship, it appears to be his job to sit in the corner window and soak up the sun.

Not a bad life for him. Even so, frankly, I just don’t get cats.

Show me a dog – any dog – who won’t slurp down the vilest of chow or whatever you’ve got on hand (OK, there are some finicky designer dogs who are exceptions), won’t stop whatever he is doing for a good back scratch from you, comes whenever you call him from anywhere in the house or be eagerly awaiting your entrance into the house when he hears the car coming up the driveway. You are the center of his life. He loves you and shows it with every face slurp, tail wag, game of fetch or head placed gently in your lap when he senses you’re feeling low.

Georgie and his ilk, however, couldn’t care less about your mood or your time of arrival or whether you’ve dropped dead, and seem, to me at least, to have a perpetual “what’s in it for me?” look on their faces. Even how they saunter around the house, as if granting a brief royal viewing, shouts “unworthy though you are, you may gaze at my magnificence now.”

Obviously I’m not a cat person. To give them their due, I have seen Georgie curled up in Barbara’s lap, and the mutual enjoyment of the experience clearly evident. I have a friend living in a big city whose declawed and very domesticated never-goes-outside cat is that other heartbeat in the apartment, which is important. And I’ve seen cats do amusing things and make little children happy.

But they’re just so darn independent – arrogant, actually – that it’s hard for me to warm up to them. It’s kind of like having a friend who doesn’t care one way or the other if you show up for the lunch date as long as lunch is served either way.

And there’s something just so perverse about cats. It never fails that whenever my husband, even less an appreciator of cats than I am, enters a room where a cat is present, that cat will make its way directly to him, rub up against his legs and otherwise not leave him alone. The room could be full of people – even people who would welcome the attention of the cat who has affixed himself to my husband – even then, no cat can leave Bruce alone.

Bruce is never mean to cats. He mostly just ignores them, which seems to be the socially acceptable thing to do under the circumstances. But he is a cat magnet nevertheless.

We were at our niece’s house once when one of her cats was seated atop what I guess was a cat tree, a series of carpeted platforms at different levels on a post. The cat was at about shoulder height and kept leaning closer and closer to Bruce. Our niece said not to worry, Coda never ever jumps on anyone, as she is too shy and skittish. Ha.

Even Georgie makes a beeline for Bruce when we’re visiting. He plops himself down right in Bruce’s lap. Barbara will call him to her. Nothing. So if Bruce stands (one of the polite ways to offload a cat) and moves to another spot, guess who follows him?

I think Georgie is laughing inside, behind his superior little face in a passive-aggressive cat kind of way. Don’t like me, huh? Watch me drive you crazy, all the while looking ever so innocent and so adorable as I do it.

OK, I’m making a lot of this, too much probably. Cats are perfectly fine pets I guess, if you tolerate indifference well. But keep them indoors please. The reason is simple. Cats are hunters. It’s their nature and they’re not to be blamed for it. Yet, according to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service, domestic cats kill about 2.4 billion birds a year.

And that’s not so adorable.

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor @comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/ columnists/


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