Living With Animals: A Wonderful Madness
by Marjorie Dorfman
Are you an animal person? Do your furry friends walk all over you and you love it? Stand up, be counted, unite and most of all, learn to lick back, for they will win in the long run.
Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you. Mary Bly
Whether you love cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, birds, hamsters, gerbils or creepy crawlies with no legs or more than four, animals in a life can only enhance that life. This is not to say that they dont make it more challenging in new and different ways. I am a cat, dog and horse person, but I love all creatures great and small, save rats, snakes, scorpions and most insects, except for ladybugs and butterflies. It is true that all living things have their place in our vast universe, but hopefully, in some cases at least, their places need not be too close to my house. I own six cats (or do they own me?) and had one horse until she passed away last summer at the ripe old age of 29. She didnt live in the house, but more than a part of me wanted her too. I say this so that you can rate my animal perspective truthfully as over the top, which is where it is.
It is the day-to-day living with creatures that puts our humanity to its own particular test. One of my cats says hello by raising his rear end and tail up into the face of whoever is petting him. A person doing that would end up in jail. Not my Nero. Hes too cute (and so is his longhaired black rear-end, I might add). You also have to watch the milk cartons in my house. This adorable fellow likes to knock them over and then rush to the end of the counter and lick the milk up as it drips to the floor. But he is my baby and I love him unconditionally, just like most owners feel about their beloved pets. Animals provide a buffer against loneliness and a fine cutting edge between human frailties and emotions. Their love shines, fortifies and enhances our moods. Cats offer the additional gift of being the best alarm clocks ever not made.
Nero is only one of the six characters who live with me and all the others are as special to me in their own way as he is. They also all drive me crazy in their own unique ways, just as he does. What do you do with a cat that steals cotton swabs and plants them all over the house? (I even found some clogged in my treadmill. I guess the cat simply doesnt like exercise.) I feel like Christopher Columbus every time I clean behind the big sofa in my living room. I never know what I will find, just like he must have felt sailing across the vast ocean. Ive got another fine fellow who steals my make-up sponges. (What I cant figure out is how he opens the glass lid without seeming to move it.) I can always tell when theres been a party at my house after Ive been away. The cotton swabs and sponges are strewn like rose petals all over my not so neat house to begin with. (I once caught the culprit, (known as Spats by the local authorities), with three of them in his mouth! When he saw me he knew the jig was up and dropped the evidence, making a clean getaway under my bed. Ive got one nocturnal eater, one that wont eat with the other cats, one that I have to feed by hand and one that eats so fast that I have to put a golf ball in the bowl to slow him down. Would you say these guys and gals keep me on my toes?
So how do we come to a mutual understanding with the creatures that share our homes and create a peaceful co-existence? This is probably everyones intention, but its not always that easy to accomplish. I will attempt an overview for each set of creatures. If you have more than one set, dont look at me. Perhaps combining plan A with B might help. Perhaps it wont. Ask the animals. They wont tell you, but the passage of time and experience will.