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Thursday, August 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Front Porch: Cats have her wrapped around their little claws

Irony is when you’re writing a column about the joys of cat ownership while your son is yelling, “Thor, no! Thor, don’t poop there! Oh my gosh, look at all that poop on the rug! What are you, a dog?”

Even the sweetest of kitties can sometimes behave like an undomesticated wildcat.

Over the years Milo, our svelte tuxedo cat, and Thor, our tubby tabby, have developed quite a devoted fan following. At a recent book-signing event, several folks asked for a State of the Cats update. Honestly? The State of the Cats is, currently, spoiled.

I recently purchased an indoor water fountain for them. The purchase was necessitated by hairballs. Milo hacked up a few, which is unusual for him. I worried he wasn’t drinking enough water.

Thor has long-preferred running water from our bathroom faucet over the stale water in his bowl. Every morning he follows me into the bathroom and hops up on the counter to sip from the sink. Have I mentioned Thor is rather bulky and our counter rather small?

So, I bought them a fountain featuring freshly filtered continuously running water. Sam, 16, assembled it and set it up on the basement floor.

“Uh, Mom,” he said. “Did you notice it kinda looks like a toilet?”

He was right, but both cats took to it with gusto. As usual, Thor exhibits more gusto than necessary, preferring to place his mouth and tongue directly on the spigot, while Milo laps delicately from the reservoir.

I’m not alone in wanting my cats to have nice things. According to the American Pet Products Association, last year Americans spent $60.28 billion on the care, feeding, grooming and entertainment of their pets.

My splurge on the water fountain seems to have paid off because we haven’t seen a hairball since it was installed. This is great because Milo’s sneezes provide more than enough grossness for us to deal with.

No one in our family is allergic to cats, but I’ve long suspected Milo is allergic to us. He’s been prone to sneezing fits since we adopted him at 8 weeks. Our living room windows haven’t been streak-free since he arrived, and I’ve often been awakened in the morning by juicy cat sneezes covering my face with a not-so-fine mist.

He is otherwise healthy and doesn’t seem bothered by his sneeziness, but woe unto anyone who achoos in his general vicinity. Milo finds human sneezes appallingly offensive and will loudly yell at the perpetrator, while exiting the room with his tail held high.

I may have splurged on the fountain, but at least my cats haven’t taken over my television. The other night my husband was channel surfing and discovered the Cat Relaxation Channel. The description read in part, “Your cats will instantly enjoy comfort for separation anxiety, stress and more! Gorgeous photographs of adorable cats accompany each video! Classical music, nature sounds, all designed for instant comfort now! Humans love our music, too!”

First of all, that’s more exclamation points than I use in an entire month’s worth of columns. Secondly, this human found the channel with its kitschy photographs and elevator music absolutely unbearable. Besides, one of the reasons we love our cats is the entertainment they provide us, not vice versa.

Thor does enjoy television. Each evening he stretches out across my lap and purrs contentedly as I stroke his head until he falls asleep. Usually he falls asleep about the same time as my legs.

For all their much talked about aloofness and indifference, cats can be very tuned in to their owners.

Last week when I suffered a bout of food poisoning, it was Milo, not my husband or sons, who never left my side. He sat near me, patting my hair with his paw, rubbing his head against my cheek and murmuring constant worried meows.

When at last I crawled into bed, he curled protectively around my head, bestowing kitty kisses on my forehead until I fell asleep.

That’s why, when shopping on Saturday, I found a sign I had to purchase for my home. It reads, “Behind every successful woman is her cat.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Contact Cindy Hval at She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” Her previous columns are available online at columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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