One day on the way to work, the radio DJ had one of those call-in contests: “What percentage of households in the United States own a cat?” Well, I immediately realized it was a trick question because nobody owns a cat! Since you are reading this, you most likely share your home with a cat — or several. For many years I had A (single) cat, but somehow in the past few years, I seem to be accumulating them. They keep moving into my house. I don’t invite them — they just show up and demand entry.
The most recent is Lop Ear — so named because, well, see for yourself. He was the neighborhood stray for a number of years, and finally settled on my yard, my patio and (eventually) my living room as his chosen abode. He’s a really sweet guy — at least to me. If he could figure out how to rid the household of the rest of the cats, his life would be complete.
He has claimed the big chair in the living room as “his” place. He also has a special corner of the office between the bookcase and the desk. I put a little blanket down there for him and while the other cats have ventured in for a quick “look-see,” none of them has challenged his right to that corner.
Well, then there’s Paddy O’Cat — the second most recent. Originally named Money (because he apparently cost a lot of it), he moved here from the house across the street. A pure-bred Rag Doll, he was thrilled to escape the chaos of a house full of children, dogs and other cats, and come to the oasis which is my backyard — grass and shade and always a bowl of fresh water. Paddy ensconced himself on the comfortable patio chairs and lived outside for nearly a year until my friend Jean became his champion.
“Why is this cat living on your patio? Why don’t you let him in the house?” she asked one hot September evening.
“Because I have two house-cats already. He’s my patio cat.”
She promptly re-named him Paddy O’Cat and convinced me that a cat wearing a long fur coat should not be living outside in 100+ heat, so he moved into the house, too. Paddy would dearly love to be friends with Smokey and Blackjack (my “real” cats), but they are having none of it. As Smokey so baldly puts it, “There’s room for two, but not for you.” For some reason, she feels it’s necessary to hurl insults at him whenever she sees him. Although I do not understand Cat, I believe I heard her sneer, “Your mother wears combat boots!” (You may remember that this was a real insult back in the day.)
Smokey — my original cat. She was born in my back yard courtesy of Patches, a cat who lived at the neighbor’s, but wisely birthed her kittens far from the inquisitive, grasping hands of the youngsters who lived there. I found homes for all the others, but Smokey was mine. The only female in the group, she would like to be the matriarch, but lop Ear and Paddy clearly intimidate her.
That doesn’t mean she has given up her place in the hierarchy, she’s just careful to keep her distance. She is still my Number One Cat and loves to snuggle and purr. However, she also expects to be catered to — I have now taken to serving her dinner in the bedroom where she can eat in peace, not worried about whether one of the big guys is going to try to eat her dinner. And heaven forbid, I should flip on the light while she is snoozing — she needs her 16 hours!
Last, and certainly least, is Blackjack. He is the sweetest guy, but (and I shouldn’t say this outloud), not all that bright. I believe the phrase is “one tuna shy of a casserole.” His favorite thing is to be petted.(somewhere I think there is a contract stating that he is owed 20 minutes of petting every day), and he always says “thank you” when I open the door for him.
Blackjack and Smokey are practically inseparable — she raised him from a kitten — and the two of them together present a united front against the other two who have not yet figured out that uniting would be a good thing. Paddy and Lop Ear have an uneasy truce, and neither of them likes the others.
I regularly look at the posts from http://catsatthebar.org. They have 18 cats. I cannot imagine! Their cats are so active — always running and getting into things — of course, their “owner” follows them around with a camera. If I followed my cats around with a camera, I would have lots of pictures of sleeping cats — Oh, come to think of it, I do!
So yes, Blackjack loves Smokey, Smokey hates Paddy, Paddy ignores Lop Ear, and Lop Ear just wants to be left alone to enjoy living in a house that’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter and where food magically appears in the dish every morning and evening.
As for me, I love them all and wish I could have another dozen, but working as a servant to four cats is as much as I can handle.