Replacing the cats is an awww-some task

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am a dog person. I prefer to be adored simply on the merit that I feed a living being, keep it clean, and scritch it behind the ears.

Those of you with children might understand that all children are inherently cat people, meaning that if you do these same things for them (child or cat), it means that THEY are the center of the universe, not you.

I have nothing against cats. I?ll say ?awww…? just as loud as the next person when I see a cute kitten. Cats have their place, which brings us to this month?s story.

My husband and I used to have two cats. We lost both of them to old age earlier this year. The brief respite from cleaning litter boxes was almost as wonderful as not finding random hairballs (wet and dry) strewn about the house.

My mind soon turned to practical matters. You see, I have a sincere loathing for mice. As I saw it, having a cat or two in the house did keep the mice away. Also, everyone knows that where there are mice, there are snakes, and I?m not too fond of them in the house either. So obviously, we needed another cat.

At first I brought a likely candidate home from the farmers? market. She had serious ?awww? powers. Her little black and white tuxedo body with black speckles near her nose would have softened any heart. She loved to cuddle and purr.

She seemed like the perfect cat, until strange aromas started wafting from corners. Until little kitten-sized ?tootsie rolls? started showing up anywhere but the litter box.

But I was determined. I wanted her to be a house cat. I put the tootsie rolls in the litter box. I put her in the litter box. The kids put her in the litter box. She would make promising movements, then jump out and nicely as you please, wee on the floor.

I tried putting her in a large dog crate with a litter box. She soon figured out how to escape the somewhat rickety crate and did her business?you guessed it?on the floor. By this time, she wasn?t nearly so cute. I finally relented to my hubby?s advice to let her be a barn cat.

There we were, catless again. I was having nightmares about mice and snakes. In swoops my stepdad with the perfect solution. He had found a stray cat that he took in and fed, then took to the vet for shots and neutering. He said it was friendly. He said it was big.

The clincher? He said it was black. I?ve always liked black animals?after all, I have a black dog, a black horse, some black chickens…but I had always wanted a completely black cat.

Sure enough, the day and the cat arrived. Here was this giant thing with glowing yellow eyes staring out of the crate. I used to think our old cats were pretty big. Maybe they were. Maybe this one?s mother had an affair with a panther. But there he was, huge, pitch black, and litter trained as promised.

I was ecstatic.

Naturally, the friendly part took a while to come to light. First, he had to learn that the great black panting monstrosity of a dog that inhabits the living room couches was not going to eat him. Then he had to learn that being picked up by children was not an insult to his dignity.

He gained bonus points by not being one of those cats that is always trying to kill you by being where you plan to put your next step. He learned very quickly that the bed was not his and that he should stay off of it. He even hunted crickets.

He does have a few interesting quirks, but nothing serious. He simply adores sitting on the back of a bench that overhangs the basement steps. This is all fine and good until he falls asleep and rolls off the back of the bench. We used to keep houseplants there, but he has obliterated all of them.

Hubby even found him once dangling from the shelf by his front paws, but even then his feline aplomb made him give us the look that says, ?I meant to do that.?

Yes, we love him. I?m still a dog person, but I?ve just got to say ?awww? to this huge purring mass on my lap. Cats sure do have their place. I?m glad his place is with us.

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