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cat familyFeline Foibles: Well, No One’s Purrfect!
by Marjorie Dorfman

Isn’t it amazing how cats each have their own distinct eccentricities? As the owner of seven (or do they own me?) I am always amused by their creativity. Read on for some thoughts and a chuckle or two.

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be many kittens.  – Abraham Lincoln

I once heard someone refer to cats as the epitome of sophistication without civilization. I completely agree, but would also like to add that civilized can be defined in more than one way. H.L.Mencken called the civilized state a "concentrated effort to...check the practical joking of God." If the Grand Being who made us all is a prankster, then surely some of his creations are as well, and, if jokers exist in the animal kingdom, then I am convinced that seven of them live in my house.
cat gardener
Yes, all seven of my cats, (and to this day I do not know how that happened), have significant senses of both the ridiculous and the sublime. Their personalities are acutely etched into what I sometimes refer to as my brain. Their individual idiosyncrasies both amuse and keep me on my toes at all times. I have found that their eccentricities fall into two distinct categories: food and drink and habits and hobbies.

Let’s start with food and drink, for in this corner I certainly am owned by some very strange creatures indeed. My black Persian, Nero, has a thing for juice and milk cartons. What’s that, you say? Well, in my house one cannot leave a milk or juice carton on the table or counter because the cat will stop what he is doing, jump upon the counter and knock it over on its side. That’s not the worst of it either. He then rushes to the edge of the counter or tabletop and laps up the liquid as it drips to the floor (only the milk, he hates juice). Pitchers don’t help. He knocks them over too. At casa mia, one pours, replaces the carton in the refrigerator and hopefully, drinks in peace within a few swift but very significant movements.

But Nero does not stand alone while his empire burns. (He doesn’t play the fiddle either.) My darling mackerel tabby, Spats, has his own way of indicating to me whether or not he likes his food. If he likes it, he eats it, but if he doesn’t, boy am I in trouble. (And from day to day likes and dislikes change. I told you they keep me on my toes!) If he is unhappy with the daily special, he knocks it out of the plate and covers the empty bowl with his paws in a cross-wise position. That’s telling me, alright. Too bad I can’t make him clean up the mess!

a fine pairThen there’s my black shorthair, Jezebel, who, maddened by the bright yellow light of the moon, won’t eat dry food. And then there’s Atticus who can’t eat the wet food because he has no teeth and Jasmine who eats nocturnally and Chloey who barely eats at all. I think that history repeats itself because the whole situation reminds me of a story my Aunt once told me about her three finicky sons who were a few years apart in age. One liked the white of the egg, one the yolk and the other liked both over easy cooked for exactly one and one half minute. One morning they drove her so crazy with their specific preferences that she poured the egg batter over their heads and left the kitchen, instructing them to make their eggs however they liked. Should my cats be watching the Cooking Channel? (It won’t be easy weaning them away from CNN.)

My Atticus, a white shorthair, drinks his water in a most bizarre fashion. First, he splashes it out of the bowl with one paw and then licks it off as it drips from there. He is also a hoarder, or better put, a cat who thinks he’s a squirrel. Often he takes a clump of food and transports it to another part of the house. I am always amazed at all the little brown and gray things that my broom picks up. It’s a good thing I sweep and vacuum once in a while. Maybe I should hold off on that. Perhaps there’s a new wonder drug like penicillin just lying around my house waiting to be discovered. Could my vacuum cleaner be standing in the way of scientific progress?

cat playAnd now onto the next category: feline habits and hobbies. My little calico, Chloey, collects Q-tips and hides them all over the house. The game is that I throw one up in the air, she catches and runs away with it, hiding it God knows where. A few months ago, I was sweating away on my treadmill when it made an ominous crunching sound. Careful scrutiny revealed five Q-tips stuck inside the mechanism. I find them everywhere with one cotton end pulled off. I never find the ends she has removed and often wonder what she does with them. My Spats collects and distributes my make-up sponges (little celluloid wedges) to all other cats in need throughout the house. Not only do I find them everywhere as well, but I cannot figure out how he manages to remove them from their glass-covered box in my bathroom! I shudder every time I vacuum behind my living room sofa because I never know what surprises are in store for me. Between transported food, hundreds of Q-tips and make-up sponges, I have also recovered single gloves, various objets-d’art, small play balls and thousands of pens. Sometimes I think if I search hard and deep enough that I might be the one to uncover the mystery about what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa!

And now for the last and most unpleasant foible. What can you do with a cat that won’t use the litter-box? I once owned a cat who hated litter, but would accept shredded up newspaper in its stead. I think before she died at the ripe old age of 19 she was the most well read Persian cat in town. She would slip occasionally and leave me presents in the bathtub and even once in the bathroom sink, but I eventually learned to live with that. If a cat slips, whether deliberately or accidentally, I have found that placing a bowl of dry food where the incident occurred often prevents it from happening again. Cats do not like to eat where they do their business. There is no guarantee, however that they won’t pick another place, but it worked in my case and it’s worth a try.

cat playYes, my cats keep me very busy. They are also special friends who give me a lot more than I give them. I value their companionship, love and adorable personalities. So they make a few mistakes. No one’s purrfect and, after all, it wouldn’t be very interesting if they were. We all need a little drama in our lives even though Bette Davis is dead. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?

Did you know . . .?

animal news

Some books about cats that you'll enjoy:

Living With Cats

by Hugh Wirth

Living With Cats

Dr Hugh Wirth, President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is one of Australia's most well-known and respected animal advocates. This book is a must for cat owners, or those thinking of buying a cat.The author provides caring and sensible advice – on different breeds, behaviour traits and what they mean, cat health and answers to the most common questions asked by cat owners.

Why Cats Do That

by Karen Anderson

Why Cats Do That

Why do cats get stuck in trees? Why do cats bring us their latest catch? Why do cats always land on their feet? Why do cats torture their prey? These and 36 other curious cat behaviors are informatively and lightheartedly answered in the handsomely illustrated Why Cats Do That. An original pencil drawing illustrates each insightful explanation of odd but characteristic cat actions, social graces and sometimes kooky quirks.

Check this review by Marjorie of a must-have collar:

When the cats and dogs are away, the information tags will play.
Rescue Collar