In the reign of cats

By PollyAnna
Reader Contributor

In desperate times — or daily times — I’m not above binge-watching a solid stream of cat videos. 

Has anyone figured out just why cat videos are so appealing? I haven’t got it pinned yet, but there’s something to do with felines’ fierce struggle for constant dignity that makes us want to poke them and tease them and watch them get catapulted through the air. 

Cats have always entertained me — possibly because my parents hate them with a low-simmering passion. Their disdain, of course, means that every cat they come across instantly falls in love with them and follows them around, and tries to sit in my dad’s lap or rubs itself around my mom’s ankles. 

When I was about 11, my parents caved and let us get our first cat. 

“Outside! Outdoors only!” was the refrain. 

“Just try to rub my belly. I dare you!”

So, of course, Wild Thing became an expert at sneaking into the house at any given opportunity. Soon my mom’s shriek of “Aaarrrgghhhh! Come get your cat!” could be heard regularly coming from all corners of the house. 

Maybe Wild Thing would be sitting on the deep freeze in the dark pantry, so that his retinas flashed brightly at her from the dark as she opened the door. Maybe he’d be sprawled across the countertop — splayed over the damp, freshly washed and chopped head of cabbage that she’d just prepped for supper. Maybe he’d be crouching under the ledge outside, where we kept his food bowl, waiting for a sparrow to land on his leftovers so that he could enjoy (from his perspective) a “real” meal. 

Somehow, he always managed to ruffle my mom exactly wrong.

My current cat, Rory, has tried to win her over with his full range of flirtations, but it’s a lost cause. He’s a chipper little guy, heading toward pudgy but still climbing trees after his squirrel buddies with gusto. 

Rory lives with the desperate hope that if he’s good enough, he’ll grow up to be a dog someday. He’s not beyond walking into any of the houses or businesses in our neighborhood for a quick “hello.” Fortunately, my neighbors tolerate his invasions with laughter, for the most part — though I began to worry that he would disappear, especially after the time he hopped out of a parked RV up the block to greet me. When he was young, he developed a stressful (for me) habit of walking up to strange dogs for a friendly nose-sniff greeting. Even now, some days he shows up at my workplace and sits outside the door to walk me home. There are evenings where we cannot walk the dog without locking Rory in the bedroom first, or he’ll waltz right across Fifth Avenue with us for a stroll to Eichardt’s. 

Rory’s newest trick? Busting excitedly through the dog door with a stick in his mouth. It started this winter as the snow melted, with him bringing home bits of straw or gloriously large maple leaves to pat around and shove under the throw rugs. Now, his expertise in prey selection has taken him to the advanced level of twigs. In fact, best we can tell, he has abandoned all living prey for the love of the stick, and meows proudly as he places one on the floor and looks up for affirmation. 

The dog, who’s not allowed to bring her own sticks in the house, watches our oohing and ahhing with confusion — then, as soon as our backs are turned, she jealousy-eats his newest prized possession. 

Honestly, living with bits of stick underfoot is so much better than bird feathers or bits of mouse. We might be the only family in Sandpoint that mulches inside our house instead of outside. But my friends love Rory’s “Twig of the Day” photo feed. 

And hey, we all need to do what we can to keep the peace around here. Even if that means allowing a cat to pretend he’s a dog. 

PolyAnna lives, writes and loves from Sandpoint, where she recently caught Rory covertly dealing catnip to his neighborhood buddies from the herb garden in her front yard.

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