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Fanciful Feline Foibles
I want it clearly understood without apologies, that I am a Cat Lover, and I think in moderation, all our daughters are. That feeling, I think, is shared by their respective husbands.  Although my feelings on them may be tainted by prejudice, I think there is something wrong with anybody who doesn't like cats.

Having said this, I hasten to say, we do not like wholesale cats, and living next to the road as we do we have been cursed from time to time with a surfeit of cats, all on welfare, which has taxed our patience and our food budget.

"Get Free Cat Stuff @ I-Love-Cats.com!"Sometime back someone dropped off two cats with us, a mother and daughter, a pair of motley, disreputable and of indeterminate ancestry.  They had two things in common, they were both promiscuous, and quite frequently they came up with a litter of nondescript creatures of unknown parentage and expected us to feed them. In return, they had not the slightest desire to earn their own keep, and their response to our handout on the back porch held no vestige of gratitude for the free meals, but rather a reproachful, angry, demanding for more and better.

I remember early one morning when it was pouring down rain, I was awakened by a pitiful meowing in the back yard. I finally got up to investigate, and I found a tiny three-week-old thoroughly soaked kitten crawling through the wet grass. I sneaked up behind it, carried it in the house, wrapped it in a dry towel, dried it as best I could, and took it to bed with us to finish warming it. Lucille found a box, put some carpet in it, and put it on the back porch, where eventually it's mother, the daughter cat, found it and gave it some nourishment. Afterwards, when I reached my hand in the box, it struck at me and hissed. Such ingratitude!

I told Lucille the moral was plain; the grandmother cat should have told her daughter, "Find a dry place for your children and keep them out of the weather."
"Lucille," I said, "let this be a lesson to you, just because your daughters are grown up and have children of their own doesn't mean you have no responsibility for your grandchildren."

Lucille said, "If you are talking about mother cats and grandmother cats, what about the daddy cats and granddaddy cat’s responsibility? And if you are talking about people and mothers and grandmothers, what about fathers and grandfather's responsibility?"

And I said, ''Lucille, I want you to know, on behalf of the human male, I resent you comparing us with tom cats."
This may have been a cruel, heartless solution to our cat-welfare problem. I’m not sure it was the right thing, but I finally gathered up these able-bodied freeloaders and carried them away—way off from any human habitation.
I turned them loose with some free groceries and told them, "You are healthy, able-bodied creatures capable of earning your own keep while balancing the environment. When this food is gone. You are on your own."
Now our daughter, Karen, and her husband, Roy, own a very high-pedigreed cat named Bianca. Her pedigree dates back past the Mayflower. She had only one fault, which I am told is common to the female of the species. She had a cycle that she went through periodically during which she gave forth with prolonged and anguished cries of emotional need together with other symptoms of unrequited love. Karen who was around the house more than Roy found this frequent aberration particularly disturbing and annoying, so she suggested a surgical procedure that would take care of this situation.
Roy said, "NO WAY!"

I said (will I never learn?), "You, Karen and Brent love cats. Why not turn this establishment into a feline cat house. Buy breeding stock, a whole bunch of high-priced registered female cats, and a very high-priced registered tom cat, then throw away that expensive bulldozer and sell $150 cats."
Nobody listens. I believe the surgical procedure referred to earlier is known as "tying off the tubes." The more acceptable term is what Karen did, she got Bianca "fixed". And I think when Roy found what a lovable forgiving cat Bianca had become, he may have finally forgiven Karen. At least I hope so.

We now have a black and white cat that is a Prince of a fellow. In fact we call him "Prince." (click for picture). He meets us at the carport, stands on his hind legs to be petted, escorts us to the front door, and hopefully wards off copperhead snakes from the front porch. We feed him well, but he supplements his diet with mice and other game, and we have a little concern of him becoming a highway casualty as so many of our prized cats have been. His mother must have told him at a very early age, "Stay off the highway, boy. Those cars, trucks and tractors will get you."
Nevertheless. Lucille has said from time to time, "If we aim to keep Prince, I really think we should have him fixed.''

I said, ''By the term "fixed," you mean have him CUT, CASTRATED, EMASCULATED? OUR FINE MALE CAT-IN-THE-PRIME-OF-LIFE PRINCE? NO WAY. FORGET IT!"

Lucille said, ''Well, I still think if we want to keep him we should have him fixed." Sometimes you have to be firm.

I said, "No, and that's final. END OF SUBJECT."
Perhaps a month later a friend of Lucille's was visiting and while admiring our lovely cat asked Lucille, ''Have you had him fixed?''
There was a moment of silence and Lucille finally said, ''Well, I really wish you hadn't asked me in front of O’Brien, but I'm not going to lie about it. Yes, I had him fixed."  END OF SUBJECT.
I will admit it, Prince has a forgiving nature and he has no more inclination to "tomcat'' around than I.

NOTE:  Prince is still alive and kicking today. 07/11/05.



Printed in The MESSENGER magazine, July/August 1997