1980-02-21 Sense and Nonsense

There is an oid saying, “You don’t own a cat – it owns you.”

I am sure that is true and it is also true that our feline friends vary as much in character and personality traits as most other animals do.

A few years ago an itinerant tom adopted us and became the sole occupant of our attic. “Old Yellow” (he doesn’t really have a name, but will answer to anything accompanied by food) is not your average male cat.

He seldom strays to other people’s houses to court their resident tabbies. Instead he is content to curl up next to the chimney and allow the girls to come to him. He entertains some of the noisiest partygoers I have ever heard; in the dead of night; right above our bedroom ceiling! The party usually ends abruptly when a stick of firewood is hurled furiously by an unclad human, up and into the midst of the merriment. There is a blur of cat-shapes as the guests leave by air, barely touching the porch on their way out.

Old Yellow peers innocently down from the attic with a “I can’t help it if I’m popular” look on his face.

Cats have spent so much time around dogs that some of them seem to have developed certain aggressive canine tendencies. One lady complained that her chained German Shepherd dog was being mentally and physically abused by a neighbour’s sadistic tomcat. The cat would deliberately arouse the dog’s natural cat-hating instincts. He would flaunt himself a bare chain’s length away. When the dog approached, mouth open; frenziedly barking; teeth gleaming: the cat would scientifically try to rip out the other animal’s tongue. I don’t think the dog ever did learn to keep his mouth shut. He had a sore mouth most of the time.

My husband’s parents live on a farm in Central Alberta. Some years ago they sold their cattle and when their collie dog died, they felt there was no longer a need to replace him. Last summer they almost wished they had a dog again. The deer were becoming a real nuisance in their garden. One day they observed yet another deer nonchalantly nibbling on the tender raspberry canes. Surprisingly, the family cat became quite agitated at the sight of the big buck. She composed herself into a ball of ferocious energy. Hissing and spitting she propelled herself in the direction of the cloven-hoofed intruder. The deer took one amazed took at the small furry aggressor and decided that discretion was the better part of valour. He bounded off with the cat in hot pursuit.

“Old yellow” in the attic is a coward at heart. He is afraid of hummingbirds, rabbits and other male cats. But the fact that he is a “real pussycat” doesn’t seem to matter to his girlfriends.

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