Why Do Cats Do What They Do?

Cautionary Tales from a First-Time Cat Owner



Part 3: Proof  that all men are alike, no matter what species, and why we shouldn't envy Angelina Jolie.

Why is it always the great-looking ones who feel like they don't even have to try to be charming?

I'm not talking men here. No, I'm talking cats.

Lookee here at this beauty, Atticus Finch. Gorgeous, serene, regal, intelligent... wouldn't you say? 

Hah. He may look like the Brad Pitt of cats, but he's actually Larry The Cable Guy. Oh, he's affectionate  -- loves to be stroked and patted and is content to sleep on your feet when it's cold. But he's a real frat boy. He farts. He belches. He has bad breath. Sometimes he poops in the bathtub. Worse, when I'm reading in bed he likes to lie down with his big ol' butt in my face, and he refuses to let me clean his furry 'tocks after he poops. At least, not without a struggle. His attitude is "What is your problem, woman? I took a bath only last month!"

I should have known. When I went over to adopt him, he farted so badly he almost cleared the room. But I'll overlook a lot for a pretty face (which explains the two marriages), and I took him home anyway, telling myself it must have been some other cat.

And, like most guys, he seems to think that his gaseous emissions are funny. I swear he holds it until the perfect moment when he can inflict the worst damage. The other night he was wrestling with his brother, Boo. He got Boo pinned down, then let it rip right in his face. Boo was so outraged that he flew into the open cat carrier and clanged the door shut with his paw. When Atticus ambled over with that "Dude, can't you take a joke?" attitude, Boo hung on to the door and ignored him, but eventually gave in.

But I still adore him, farts and all. And since he's grown his full coat, he knows he's prettier than ever.

Just shows what you can get away with when you're beautiful and male.

I bet Angelina Jolie has this problem all the time.


BREAKING NEWS FLASH!!! In the "Information You Could Probably Do Without" category: After about six months of experimenting with various diets, Atticus Finch no longer farts, thus lessening or eliminating entirely the dangers of gas explosions at my house. At last, I can burn candles again without fear of maxing out my homeowner's insurance, and the house plants are growing back. The groomers gave him something called a "Potty Patch," a shaved area under his tail, which means he no longer has to have his butt cleaned every time he poops. He's also had his teeth cleaned, which cured the bad breath. So now he's as sweet a cat as he looks. The joy is unrestrained.



Part 2:  More cats. More fun.  Less sleep.

Okay, so I got to feeling guilty. My cat, Boo Radley (Yeah, it became a permanent name change) had been used to having other cats around. And although he and I spend a lot of time together, and he stays close by me and acts like a Guard Cat,, he seemed a little lonely for his own kind.

So I went back to Cat Angels.

Remember the gorgeous white-and-red longhair I mentioned in Part 1, one of my original choices? He was still there! I don't know why. He's beautiful, his fur is incredibly soft, he's gentle, very affectionate, and he doesn't meow so much as he makes sounds like a Tribble from Star Trek. It's like he read a book called "How To Be An Adorable Pussycat."

At any rate, he's mine now. And, as it turned out, he's Boo's actual brother, a sibling from the same litter. I also found out a few things about the history of these cats, and it's grim. They were only two of 158 cats living in squalor in a small 4-room house. The city authorities were going to euthanize all of them, but several rescue groups stepped in and saved what cats they could. A local vet school donated services to the cats -- all of them had various ailments in greater or lesser degrees. Some didn't make it.

  Now most of them have found homes with people who adore them and are happy to indulge them. I know I am -- these guys caught right on to what a sucker they've hooked up with. The new cat's name is (what else?) Atticus Finch. And it's odd because Boo's very outgoing and Atticus is still very skittish and scares easily. But he's getting over it, and loves playing with Boo.

Now if only I could get them to stop walking on my head and styling my hair in the middle of the night -- they both groom my head with paws and tongues, and seem unable to agree on my best look. I wake up with cat spit in my hair and it looks like it was styled by -- well, by two indecisive cats. And people wonder why I don't post more pics of myself on the site.

But I'd rather have bad hair than give up these two crazies.




Part 1: Temporary insanity... but in a good way.

I've been living without a pet for some time. I had a fabulous Chow dog named Gatsby for 14 years, one of the friendliest dogs ever, and we were very close. Everybody who knew me also knew him, to the point where HE got a surprise birthday party and I NEVER did -- our birthdays were two days apart. I moved around a lot in those 14 years, and he cheerfully went with me in the car all across the country. When he died a couple of years ago, it was like losing a child. I thought about getting another Chow, but I knew I'd expect him to live up to Gatsby's high standards, whether I meant to or not.

So I went online, found an animal rescue shelter, and got a cat. And, I hadn't realized it until this minute, but I got him almost on the same day I'd gotten Gatsby: Valentine's Day.

I've never been a cat owner. Not as an adult. As a child I had the World's Nastiest Siamese Cat, an aloof beauty who hated people and bit everybody. She was a gift from my stepmother, which should tell you something about my relationship with her. The cat's name was Ming, but we called her Ming the Merciless, and -- believe me -- it suited her.

The cat adoption agency, Cat Angels in Cary, NC, had some beautiful cats on their website http://www.catangelsnc.org and I immediately picked out a gorgeous white Persian mix with green eyes. Alternately there was a white and red longhair, also with green eyes. I was looking for a big, cuddly cat.

Cat Angels is a terrific place, a converted office suite with individual rooms for about 10 cats at a time, stuffed with toys and beds and catboxes and room to play. Each room has a chair where you can sit and get to know the cats. The Persian and longhair were in the same room. I'd hardly gotten in the door when a sleek pale-ginger tabby with strange green-and-yellow eyes came over. He immediately jumped into my arms, put both paws around my neck, and tucked his head under my chin. He started to purr like a Harley with a faulty muffler. Every time I put him on the floor so that I could pick up another cat, he looked aggrieved, and jumped on my lap at the first opportunity.  At one point, he pushed the cat I was holding off my lap. I looked at every cat at Cat Angels, but nobody wanted to be adopted as badly as this guy. But... I was looking for a spectacular cat, a Persian, the cat you see in the Fancy Feast commercials.

  Finally I realized that what I was really looking for was a loving cat who'd let me pick him up and carry him around and pet him for hours. Somebody I could be close to. In other words -- this guy. So no question, he was my cat and he knew it.

The next day I went shopping. Basically, if Petco carries it, he now owns it. He still doesn't have a permanent name because I'm waiting to see what his personality suggests, but for now he's Huey P. Long, named for the  eccentric governor of Louisiana who also had his paws into everything. Most of the time, I just call him Boo. He has plenty of Boo Radley moments.

So I'm learning to live with a cat. He's already wise about how to live with me.


P.S.  If you're looking for a cat to adopt, and you live anywhere close to Cary, NC, I highly recommend Cat Angels. The cats are kept in very good condition, they're all spayed/neutered, and almost all of them have been "fostered" so that the staff knows each cat's personality. It costs $115 to adopt, which is a very reasonable price -- which includes neutering and microchipping.




Where are you from? (Sept. 06)

Halloween in the Witch City (Nov. 06)