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Man with cat and kitten

Bubba still rules the roost around these parts

Franny Syufy
True cat aficionados will assume the quote above refers to their beastie in residence. Nothing is more humbling than sharing an abode with a crafty feline companion. An example: When you go to the store and buy a pack of gum, do you own it? Yes, by virtue of your purchase. When you go to a "Pet Store" or a breeder and "buy" a cat, do you own it? (I can hear the laughter resounding already.)

Why do municipal leash laws apply to dogs and almost never to cats? "Hah!, you reply, "Cats just can't be contained." Neither can they be trained against their will, outwitted by a mere human, or owned. (I can sense a great deal of head-nodding here.)

Many years ago, a Superior Court Judge in Alameda County, California, heard a case that made headlines. It was a civil suit against the "owners" of a cat whose name escapes me (I'll call him Horace). It seems that Horace had a penchant for romancing the ladies in the wee small hours, and the ensuing racket aroused and incensed the neighborhood. (In those days, people were not so aware of the virtues of sterilization, nor of keeping cats safely inside.)

The Judge, in a historic ruling, judged that Horace was within his catly rights to roam and romance, and that cats are independent individuals that cannot be confined. His humans were not quite so fortunate. They were judged monetarily responsible for their cat's actions in disturbing the peace of their neighbors. Go figure.

Case in point:

Bubba considers my husband Asa, his personal companion/manservant, whose duties are to feed, entertain and comfort him, day and night. You might say that Bubba views Asa as his exclusive "pet" in his own human "Habitrail." Since cats are notoriously nocturnal, you can imagine the repercussions of being Bubba's "Human". He is an indoor-outdoor cat (we live safely at the end of a long cul-de-sac), and likes to go outside several times a night to patrol his territory.

Now, I am a strong sleeper, so can only relate the following by heresay: Bubba and Asa go to bed, commune for awhile, and drift off to sleep. A couple of hours later, Bubba scratches on the door. (We have two sliders in our bedroom with vertical blinds that make a lovely clatter when dislodged.) Asa awakens and groggily staggers to the door and lets Bubba out; staggers back to bed and falls asleep again. An hour or two later, Bubba scratches on the door again; Asa awakens and lets him in. This little scenario will repeat itself several times a night, but sometimes there are variations:

Variation 1:

Bubba scratches on the door; Asa awakens and stumbles to the door and opens it. They stare at each other, then Bubba does a little flip, heads out of the bedroom, meowing over his shoulder at Asa, who in a stupor, blindly follows. Bubba leads Asa through the kitchen to the utility room door, which some idiot had closed. Bubba jumps up on the dryer, where his food dish resides and invites Asa to watch him eat. Asa stumbles back to bed.

Variation 2:

Shannon (my kitty), who is much mellower than Bubba, sometimes partakes in this play, only Shannon is shyer about coming back inside. He will sit outside for hours, staring patiently at the door, until Bubba notices him. Then, Bubba bangs on the blinds and waits until Asa drags himself to the door and lets Shannon in, and they all go back to bed.

Sometimes all three scenarios play in one night, in which case Hubby complains to me in the morning, "I'm just worn out. Those cats had me up and down all night."

My reply is invariably the same: "Honey, you've just gotta be smarter than the cat."

    The cat that comes to my window sill
    When the moon looks cold and the night is still -
    He comes in a frenzied state alone
    With a tail that stands like a pine tree cone,
    And says: "I have finished my evening lark,
    And I think I can hear a hound dog bark.
    My whiskers are froze and stuck to my chin. I do wish you'd git up and let me in."
    That cat gits in.
    Ben King

Author's Note: This piece was written when our only two cats were indoor-outdoor cats, as was common in the "old days." Shannon left us in 2001, and Bubba confines his outdoor time nowadays to daylight hours only, and only under supervision.

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