Bonner Day: The cat is not for hugging
If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
– Mark Twain.
The cat is not for hugging
It has been several months now since Lucy, the cat, arrived. People have asked about her after an earlier column raised the threat of her being returned to the pound.
I can report she is still engaging in a war of nerves with the mistress of the house: “When she bites me, I just want to smack her.” But outright war has been replaced with an odd affection.
I feel the threat of banishment myself and it is punishment by itself. It is like being investigated by the law and having to wait until the decision to prosecute is finally made. I want to speak up for the cat, to rendezvous on the tarmac, so to speak. But I’m letting the facts determine. Nervously I watch the drama between them and whenever possible emphasize that I am on the wife’s side.
The sad part is the cat has no idea the sword of Damocles hangs over her. The wife feeds her two or three times a day and regularly changes her litter box. The cat takes it all for granted. I heard her sniff more than once while her dish was being prepared.
If cats indulged in people politics, her conduct might be explainable. The mistress thinks Lucy would be a Democrat, because she takes free stuff and doesn’t have any idea who pays for it and doesn’t care. I think she is a communist, or at least a Socialist Democrat. She knows the easy chair is mine but she curls up in it like it’s owned by the government and for anybody’s use.
A visitor who saw Lucy come in out of the rain recently says she must be a Republican, because her wet hair made her look just like Trump. Whatever her politics, she seems to be learning which side her catnip is buttered on.
When the wife tries to hug her, Lucy is less aggressive. The wife puts on gloves to play with Lucy, but when she tries to leave the room, the cat grabs her by the ankles. Is it fighting or is it flirting?
To the bystander it might seem like genuine displays of affection. But I am still not convinced Lucy isn’t trying to antagonize the wife.
Lucy’s predecessor was so aloof she was taken back to the cat shelter after less than a week. But Lucy is challenging the wife in a more sophisticated manner, and apparently winning. The other day I took Lucy out of my chair and put her on the footstool where my wife was sitting. Quick as a wink Lucy jumped off the footstool and came back to my footstool. And note this: She looked over at my wife and gave her a smile anyone would say was evil.
Lucy is a pretty cat, by Maine coon standards. But she has a personality that is, at a minimum, hard to fathom. My response is to have as little as possible to do with her. So she takes a perverse delight in following me around. If I leave the room for the home office, she follows and sits between me and my computer screen. This and other such outrageous behavior, surprisingly, seems to be winning the wife over.
If all mankind is divided between “huggers” and “nonhuggers,” Lucy falls into the “nonhugger” population. She at first resisted my wife’s hugging. Now she puts up with it, sometimes even purring. But she jumps down and seeks privacy when possible. There are other examples of a warming between the two. The cat comes to the wife when she opens a can of cat food. And she purrs when the wife pets her.
But with all the compromises and the hugging and petting, Lucy genuinely seems to enjoy keeping tension in the house. She is such a daredevil. It is not as if she has a friend in the government to come to her aid.
She can read the politics of the house, however. And because of the growing affection between the wife and cat, I would guess banishment not likely. Affairs of the heart, after all, do not follow the letter of some law, like a traffic cop stop or a Justice Department indictment.
Bonner Day raises cattle and lives in the valley with a temperamental cat and wife.