Friday, October 1, 2010

Four-Legged Friends

My son Tom recently came home for a cozy weekend of home-cooking and lots of laundry. Everything was jellybeans and pixie-dust until the last day of his visit when his nervous comment to me, spoken through a mouthful of from-scratch cinnamon rolls, was, “Mom, you’re kinda talking to the cats a lot lately.”

“So, what?” I responded, immediately taking away his cinnamon rolls and dumping them into the garbage. “Are you here every day purring and drinking water from the bathroom faucet, huh? Who else is there to talk to?” I think Tom was just jealous of the fact that I offered them cat nip and didn’t ask if he wanted any.

I am alone a lot. This is not a complaint and I don’t mind the solitude. I’m rarely bored; there’s plenty to do. There is, however, no one but the cats to talk to and it’s important to keep one’s communication skills sharp. So, while we’re at it, let’s just get it out into the open: I have five cats. My husband doesn’t like me to admit this because he feels it conjures up images of braless women with crazy hair who “collect” very large numbers (more than five) of friendly felines. While it’s absolutely true that one never has enough cats, I am managing to hold at five.

I grew up in a household that had cats. One of them, a giant calico with a wise expression, was so smart that she was allowed to baby-sit for me when I was little. There were several strays we fed in the backyard every evening and I grew up assuming that cats were a part of everyone’s lives. My sons feel this way, too. I have encouraged them to think of our cats as siblings without opposable thumbs.

Our two girls, Fritzi and Cookie, are the elders of the group. Fritzi, in particular, has a few issues involving inappropriate litterbox behavior and is clearly aware, when pooping in the shower, that it is wrong. After two or more such episodes, she is sent to the sanitarium (my bathroom) to spend a few days alone with a litterbox and her thoughts and the problem is solved for a while. Then there’s Nifi—22 pounds of solid muscle—he has the head of a bison and the maturity levels of an infant. We also have Nifi’s biological sister, an obese matted blob named Elfie. Elfie sleeps, suns herself and, during the day, requires no attention whatsoever. She is, however, convinced that Seth is her husband and, upon his arrival from work at night, attacks him with relentless affection which involves deafening purring and drooling. I am not in the least jealous and am glad that Seth is able to receive this type of affection from another woman, er, I mean cat. He’s happy, she’s happy and I get to watch Jeopardy undisturbed.

This leaves Buzzy, my secret favorite. It’s perfectly alright to say this here because I do not allow the cats to read the Citizen News (particularly around election time—too much unpleasant infighting). Adopted from the local shelter when Charlie insisted on continuing his damn education and leaving home, Buzzy is the apple of my eye. A sleek, shiny boy with very round eyes, he has never lifted a paw in anger to anyone even during the ugly hazing inflicted upon him by the resentful Nifi. He sleeps on my lap, likes to have his tummy rubbed and needs nothing more than an open window when it’s warm enough and an occasional brushing. In other words, he is the perfect man.

Why should I be ashamed of my pets? People don’t look at dog-owners with raised eyebrows when the canine population in their homes grows to more than one or two. It’s like football—it’s okay if you paint yourself blue and stand, bare-chested, in the frigid winds on game day. But get a few cats and wear a caftan to the supermarket and, all of a sudden, you’re a weirdo. Why? Cats are typically fastidious, independent, affectionate, entertaining and, other than Elfie when Seth is around, rarely drool.

Unconditional love is not something to be sneezed at and I, for one, appreciate a warm friend in my lap while watching DVR-ed episodes of Glee. They prefer Animal Planet or the Game Show Network and do outnumber the humans in residence here but, hey, she who has the thumbs, operates the remote.


  1. It's about time someone took up the defense of the cat lady! I've told Charlie this before, but I envy your home full of cats. I still can't convince my roommates that no apartment is complete without one.

  2. We have two cats and have had them for about 7 months. I never knew I was such a cat person! It's perfectly normal to talk to cats. People talk to plants, right? Garden people? That's not me but I do talk to my cats. Especially the youngest, Deathstar, because he is a whiner and I never know what he is meowing about. Otto is the older sophisticated one and is more attached to my husband, which is fine with me :)

  3. 5 sounds like a very good number to me - you know why ... mentioning no names.