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Life With A Troublesome Cat

Small Black Furry sits next to me.

“You continue to write about that annoying dog. When do I get a column? You know,” she sniffs, “when you aren’t looking” (oh, but I was!) “dog barks at me and, yes, even chases me. Oh, well, I do run and mostly hiss but she couldn’t catch me in a month of Sundays.”

I sigh for I know a column is indeed overdue but, dear Gloria, what’s to be said?

Coming up on the end of five years together, I don’t think either of us has changed much. All right, agreed, you haven’t bitten me since . . . well, it’s been a long time since you’ve drawn blood. I tend to attribute that more to my ability to quickly pull away when I see your thrust coming. And it does, oh, yes, it does, for every time I pet you (and you do purr — a little — sometimes), it ends with your trying to take a chunk out of my petting hand.

It was an amazing discovery then to see that her outstretched paw was instead only an invitation to touch. Gloria? My goodness!

She will stretch out to permit my strokes (I prefer to safely stick to her head; back is dangerous — for me) and purrs loudly. She rolls on her back and we do the same — only I am much more careful for that snake can strike at any moment. She’s even nicer when I’m dishing up fresh food. The purrs are loud and she rubs against me. (So like a woman, isn’t it?)

She may be mellowing though I’m not ready to say so out loud. She definitely goes out of her way to come to be coddled whenever she finds me sitting. She loves the area just above her tail to be stroked — fine, until she decides she’s had enough. Then I have to move quickly. Very quickly.

Gloria may have always been vocal but I doubt it. Now she’s gotten to be very much so. I think I’d remember. For now this cat talks . . . and talks. She’ll tell me if I’m getting her a meal — getting louder even while I’m dishing it up. “Hurry up! Can’t you see you’re making me wait?” This has become so regular that I try to interpret her cries as joy — or even — thank you. But I can tell you this isn’t the way we humans converse. This is 100% bossy.

If one of us spoke to another human being in that tone of voice, I presume it would be the end of any relationship. Who wants to be told what to do ALL THE TIME? And this by a cat at that?

Gloria is good about going out, frequently joining Molly and me on our walks. I remember when living in Warren, we’d take daily walks through the neighborhood — and Josie (named for her coat of many colors) would always follow but by about twenty paces behind. Did she feel at this distance to be able to shadow us invisibly? This, as I further recall, was the cat we frequently brought back and forth from house there to house here. Gloria would never make it. She detests being in the car.

Let me stop right now to assure readers Gloria is not interested in birds. Years ago an upset reader offered to clean my litter box DAILY if I’d keep whatever cat indoors. Nonsense — sorry, constant readers, I wouldn’t want to be penned up inside. Neither would Molly. For that matter, Gloria figured out the dog door as soon as she was big enough to push it open. We live to be free here.

And the birds too are safe. Gloria brought me a snake once. (Thanks a lot, cat.) Mice are playmates which I have to ultimately catch and remove from the house. I’m sure I have indoor mice but I suspect she adds to the normal indoor population. One of my favorite pictures has her patiently waiting beside a Havahart trap. One time, when the trap was on the deck railing, I did catch a chipmunk. It didn’t take long for Gloria’s curiosity to push the trap off. Away scampered the prey.

She used to join me on the bed at bedtime. Apparently, once she got comfortable, she didn’t relish having to share her space. Lots of bites as I’d forgive and welcome her again the next night. The bedroom is totally off limits now.

She is declawed so I don’t expect I’d ever be able to get another cat. (I wonder if declawing is still legal in Pennsylvania? Ohio?)

And she has short hair. One long-haired cat was enough. Lovely cat, nice cat — but that’s far worse than any retriever hair and far harder to pick up.

But she’s part of the family so she stays.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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