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There’s a cat gnawing on my shoulder

I love pets.  I really really do.  I’ve always had pets, from the time I was a child through the childhood of my children, through the inheritance process by which good old Mother gets to take care of the existing pets when the children go off to college.  University dormitories tend to be less than understanding about cats and dogs sharing dormitory space.

I think our high water mark was about ten years ago.  I remember telling my children (who were always enthusiastic about acquiring animals, less enthusiastic about feeding them, cleaning up after them, etc. etc.) that I was absolutely maxed out. At that point we were sheltering four children, three cats, one dog, a tank of tropical fish, and a mentally retarded hamster that kept escaping.  In a house with three cats?  I ask you.  Eventually he vanished altogether.  Since the cats were too well fed to actually eat the prey they brought home — they simply brought the warm bodies for me to admire — I can’t believe any of them ate a whole hamster.  It is my youngest daughter’s theory that he disappeared down into the basement, which certainly had a lot of places to disappear into, grew six feet tall,  read the Encyclopedia Britannica which was stored down there, and consequently had to wear glasses.  Well, we did have the odd pair of glasses disappear, so she might be right.

The other thing is that our pets live forever. The last three cats lived to the ripe old ages of 21, 18, and 17.  But eventually that crew of domestic animals all died/had to be put down, one after another.  The children were gone by then, at least temporarily — the youngest two still showing up periodically to do laundry.  My house was pet free.

And I hated it.

I guess I was too gloom-stricken to be much fun to have around.  My husband, who didn’t grow up with pets and viewed them with distant benevolence, finally had had enough.  My birthday was coming up, and he asked me — no, begged me — to go get a kitten for my birthday.  Please!

So off we went to the animal shelter, my visiting son and me, and that’s how we got Autumn.  It was in the fall, and all the kittens in the litter had been given seasonal names, plus words associated with Halloween — I remember there was a Spook and a Leaf.  We took Autumn, who is technically a torti-tabby, which means she sort of has stripes but mostly has blotches of orange and black and grey with some white.  One big orange blotch on her forehead.  She was a wonderful kitten.  For some time she and my third grandson were about on the same mental level and played very similar games, often together.  But the grandson advanced beyond the idea that knocking things off tables was high humor.  Autumn hasn’t got that drift yet.

What Autumn does do now, or rather attempts to do, is to show her deep affection for me by chewing on whatever bits she can get hold of.  I carry her food to the mat where I feed her, and Autumn, in highest ecstasy, wraps her front paws around my shin and tried to chew on me.  I get irate and kick her off and she looks at me, aghast and betrayed.  I’m sitting watching TV with Autumn on my lap, absent-mindedly petting her, and Autumn, purring with content, bends her head around and sinks her teeth in my hand.  I shriek and toss her to the floor.  I’m sitting at my computer and Autumn brings her favorite toy to keep me company and then jumps up on the arm of my chair and from there to the top of the back — she gets traction here because I keep a cardigan sweater there to put over my shoulders if I need it — and leans down to purr lovingly, and, yes, to gnaw on my shoulder.

Damn cat.  Does anybody have any handy training tricks I could use?  It’s not that it happens every time she sees me.  She and I exist side by side in the day time while my husband is at work, and she sleeps (mostly) and I work (mostly).  It’s only at moments of deep affection that I’m in danger.  Damn cat!  Why do we keep animals around?  My youngest daughter has a quote from some comedian or other that she loves to declaim:  “What’s going on?  Did we lose a war?  We have cats pooping in our houses!”

Too true.  The pooping I can handle, given clumping cat litter and odor removals.  But chewing?  Why does my beautiful cat have to chew?

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12 Responses

  1. Cats..they’ve not always been my fav animal. I’m much more a dog kinda gal. But, we do have the best cat. We picked her up at the shelter. They’d already named her Sweetheart, so we kept it. She lives up to her name. She has been known to nip affectionately. What she does do that’s a bit painful is flex her paws when she’s content. Oftentimes, it’s when she’s lying on me. Ouch.

    The only other bad habit, which is not a bad habit, is she has a fondness for bringing home mortally wounded baby bunnies. I just wipe the tears from my seven year old’s face and explain it’s just in her nature to kill cute furry things.

  2. I do love dogs too, and if we lived anywhere else, we’d have one. But we’ve got the penthouse condo, and it’s four flights up. (Fortunately we have an elevator for heavy stuff like groceries!) Also this is Michigan. Knowing me, my enthusiasm for taking a dog outside for a walk — down in the elevator, down the front steps, out into the bitter cold of January, back up the steps, up the elevator — would wear thin very, very soon. I have given some thought to having a tiny dog — maybe a chihuahua or something? — that could reasonably get enough exercise running around the place and have an indoor bathroom like the cat — but how do I know that Autumn wouldn’t go carnivorous on me and assume it was, like mice, etc., edible? Sigh. What I really want is a pug. Our last dog was a black pug, and I loved her with all my heart.

  3. grew up with animals, but my love is and always will be with horses. I love them to death. the husband is for the most part, terrified and totally uncomfortable around them. He sees them as a huge muscly animal that can kick the sh*t out of anything. I see them as lovable creatures. On rainy days as a kid, i remember stretching out on my horse’s back in the barn and dazing. I think my love for horses is part of my love of writing regencies. I get to bring that to that life.

  4. I’m with your husband. Now that I think about it I’d rather have the cat munching on me than a horse.

  5. Beppie,

    My hubby and I didn’t like cats until one icy February night he brought home a little black stray cat that was so scrawny. Hubby said, “It’s only for a few nights until the weather gets better.” We named him Maximillian and Maxie for short, had him spayed, and he was so grateful for many years, then he forgot and became unapprective and took over as boss. He talks to us as much as we talk to him. If we get mad at him, he gets mad right back. lol My husband says he would never have believed a cat could be so smart. He orders us around like you wouldn’t believe. He does love body massages, and he’ll give little love bites to tell you how much he’s enjoying it. lol

    I loved horses as a kid. When I got married, my husband saw my horse almost kick me in the head, and he told me, “It’s me or the horse. I’m not going to be married to a vegetable. The horse is gone.

  6. Maybe Autumn’s in the phase of forgetting to be appreciative and taking over as boss. She is soft, and she loves to have her stomach rubbed. So much that occasionally she tries to take a bite . . .

    Sigh.

  7. Who was it that said, dogs have owners, cats have staff? So true.

    Beppie, In my experience, it’s that extra X chromosome in torties that makes them a little, well, unpredictable, shall we say. I had one tortie, Scully (X-files fan here) who every so often would just go mental on my other cat Boy. She’d hunt him down and pound the crap out of him. Then, like nothing, she’d be all lovey dovey for months. I’ve known a lot of torties over the years and most of them have had that same characteristic. I currently am catsitting my mother’s cabby (calico tabby), and even tho she’s still got that extra X thing happening she’s not so bad. Course, she’s also only 3.
    My little black cat Topaz likes to bring home gifts of baby bunnies too. Only he likes to leave their body-less heads in my back yard.
    We currently have one lonely, depressed dog, but I just got word today that one of my friend’s dogs had 8 Border Collie puppies, so by Halloween, we’ll have the pitter-patter of little paws running amuck once again.
    I love horses too, and today was one of those rare days when I saw both of mine.

  8. I miss having a cat. They can be so entertaining…when they are awake! My husband SWEARS he’s allergic but I don’t believe it. He has a parrot and I think he’s worried that the cat would eat the bird. In my opinion, our house would be a lot quieter without Panama adding his two cents to very conversation.

    We have two dogs. One of them (Maggie the Border Collie) would pretty much ignore a cat. The other (Jill the Flat Coated Retriever) would eat the cat.

    How come no pictures of Autumn with today’s post?

  9. Jordanne, that’s fascinating. I never knew that! I had one other calico years and years ago, and as far as I knew he was fairly normal, but I have to say Autumn is one of a kind.

    I envy you the new puppy in October. How I’d love to have one! Sigh.

    Cyndi, I’ve never lived with a parrot, although I had friends who had one. In a huge cage in the kitchen. This household was sort of out of sight anyway — they had 17 children. They made the front page of the Wall Street Journal at one point. He was a cardiovascular surgeon, so I guess they could afford them.

    And I would have put up a picture of Autumn if I had any idea how to do it! I am a technological idiot.

  10. We’ve always had cats as far back as I can remember. And they have always had their own personality and flaws. LOL One was so mean we had to give her away because she kept attacking my middle daughter when she started walking. To this day I can’t figure out what got into that cat! We have the sweetest black and white cat now that doesn’t give us any trouble. Her name is Meow Meow, and she on has issues with the dog. The cat is the boss! Just ask Brandy our 70 pound Golden Retriever! 🙂

  11. Well, there are cats and then there are cats, aren’t there? For years we had multiple cats and so the quirks of one or another of them weren’t quite so noticeable. The trouble is now that if I want to cuddle a cat, it has to be Autumn, gnawing and all.

  12. We've always had cats as far back as I can remember. And they have always had their own personality and flaws. LOL One was so mean we had to give her away because she kept attacking my middle daughter when she started walking. To this day I can't figure out what got into that cat! We have the sweetest black and white cat now that doesn't give us any trouble. Her name is Meow Meow, and she on has issues with the dog. The cat is the boss! Just ask Brandy our 70 pound Golden Retriever! :)…

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