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Front Porch: Cats continue adding fun to the home

Reader feedback regarding my foray into political analysis (“One parent’s humble fix for Congress,” Oct. 3) has been decidedly mixed with the majority of emails chiding me for my less than serious take on the government shutdown.

You might think I’d be dismayed by this chilly reception. You might imagine that I’d scurry back to safer topics like autumn leaves or little boys. You’d be wrong.

Instead, I’m going to revisit one of the most contentious topics a columnist can write about. A subject so controversial that when last I addressed it (July 19, 2012, for those keeping track at home) a reader wrote, “Cindy – I was angry and even embarrassed with your article in today’s Valley Voice….”

That’s right. It’s time for a State of the Cats address.

A cat update seemed necessary after my colleague Stefanie Pettit attempted to explain her cat-aversion in a recent column, as well as Rich Lander’s Outdoors missive this spring, in which he linked bird-killing cats to the Boston Marathon bombing. I am not even kidding.

This, though a 2004 Humane Society of the United States survey showed 75 percent of cat owners keep their cats indoors exclusively or only let them outside under careful supervision. To paint all cats and their owners with the same brush just isn’t fair. At least that’s what Milo and Thor say. And since cats have 100 vocal cords, they both have a lot to say.

Milo, a sleek 4-year-old tuxedo cat, has ruled our roost with a velvet paw since we adopted him at 8 weeks. To say that cats are arrogant, aloof and independent shows an extremely limited knowledge of feline personalities.

After all, Milo isn’t haughty, he’s just highly aware of his importance. He has several household duties which he takes quite seriously. Firstly, he is the greeter of guests. If the doorbell rings, he rushes to the top of the stairs to observe and approve those who wish to enter his domain. So far he has yet to deny entrance to anyone. Does that sound aloof to you?

He is the local representative of Cat Union 354, bravely bringing complaints of inadequate food service or interrupted nap time to our attention. Thanks to his leadership both he and Thor have designated places on our marital bed. The sleeping spots tend to be on our pillows, but we’ve worked with a mediator (our son Sam, 14) to reach a compromise.

In other words, they still sleep wherever they want, whenever they want. Cat compromises aren’t necessarily fair to all parties.

Milo is also taxed with ensuring our family wakes up on time. However, though highly intelligent, he still can’t tell time and therefore his wake up calls tend to come whenever he is most hungry – usually 5:30 a.m.

Perhaps his greatest talent is in adding class to every room he enters. His immaculately groomed tuxedo adds elegance (and fur) to every piece of furniture we own. Whether he’s lolling on the back of the couch or draping himself across the piano bench, this cat is one upscale accessory.

Thor, a rotund 2-year-old tabby, once seemed over-awed by Milo and rarely made a sound other than the steady motor-boat rumbling of his purr. I’m proud to say, Thor has finally found his voice. Unfortunately, it’s a high-pitched squeak that sounds an awful lot like Elmo.

He too performs vital household tasks – notably he supervises my personal grooming each morning. In his haste to assume his post on the bathroom sink, he has inadvertently sat on my curling iron several times, (stoically enduring a singed tail in the line of duty) and once overshot his mark and landed on the toilet. Thankfully, we always keep the lid down.

If I could translate Thor’s Elmo-like running commentary on my grooming it would sound something like this: “Is it teeth-brushing time? Oh, look at the water! Can I have a taste of the water? Yum! Thor likes water! Oh, are you going to wear pink lip gloss? Thor likes pink! Are you going to turn on the water again? Thor likes water!”

I really don’t know how I ever got ready for my day without him.

Thor also keeps my towel warm when I’m in the shower. A few pieces of fur sticking to my skin are a small price to pay for a nicely warmed towel on a chilly autumn morning.

Our younger cat doesn’t have an arrogant bone is his body. Well, that we know of anyway, at 18 pounds, he’s rather well-padded.

His girth makes him a bit less decorative than Milo, but his sweetness and faithful companionship have made him an invaluable member of the family.

Honestly, I just don’t get the dog vs. cat thing. I enjoy my friend’s dogs and don’t disparage them. I endure the slobbering licks their canines slather me with and try not to make an issue of their dogs’ propensity to sniff private areas of my person – though I wish they’d at least buy me dinner first.

It seems to me cat lovers are more tolerant and accepting of other’s pet choices.

To sum up the State of the Cats: Milo is still in charge. Thor is still fat. And while a few flies and a couple of spiders have perished under their household patrol – not a single bird has been slaughtered.

Contact Cindy Hval at Her previous columns are available online at columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.